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Ward pledges to come back fighting to collect the gold

 

By Sean McGoldrick

A palpable sense of disappointment was evident among the Irish boxing party on the journey back to the hotel at the conclusion of the 2017 World Boxing Championships late on Saturday night.

Half an hour earlier, Joe Ward became the first Irish boxer to secure two World silver medals.

His collection of three World medals - he has a bronze from 2013 - represents almost a quarter (3 out of 13) of the medals Ireland has won at the competition since its inception in 1974.

Still, finishing second best - even to the best in the world - fell below expectations.

Ward was on a mission to beat the only light heavyweight who has consistently beaten him since the Moate man broke into the elite circle at the age of 17.

It also happens that Cuban Julio La Cruz is arguably the best amateur of his generation.

Ward was cursing his luck afterwards that his career coincided with La Cruz's, who has won four World titles on the spin and with seemingly ridiculous ease.

"Without the Cuban I would be a three-time World champion and that's the reality. There is just that one guy who has the edge over me now," said Ward, who is five years younger than the Cuban.

Even though he went down to another unanimous 5-0 loss, this was Ward's best performance against La Cruz, who also beat him at the World Championships in 2013 and 2015.

On three of the judges' cards, Ward won one of the three rounds.

"I will get better as I get older and hopefully he will slow down. I am telling you that within the next couple of years, I will get him," promised Ward.

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