Joe Ward claims stoppage win on Irish homecoming

Former Irish amateur champion Joe Ward won the headline fight at the Rumble in the Hills professional boxing night in Letterkenny on Saturday evening.

Fighting in Ireland for the first time as a pro, Ward had promised a “ruthless performance” against Prince Oko Narty, and duly delivered by stopping his opponent in the second round with a devastating left hook.

Narty arrived in Donegal with ten of his 11 previous wins coming inside the distance, but Ward on the offensive from the first bell.

The Ghanaian shipped a series of heavy blows in the opening round where an early stoppage looked very much on the cards. He managed to survive the first round onslaught, but the end was soon in sight as a relentless Ward ensured a second-round stoppage and has his sights set on making up for lost time on the treatment table.

The three-time European gold and three-time World medalist as an amateur dislocated his knee in the second round of his pro debut at Madison Square Garden in 2019.

A 14-month period of inaction followed, but the Moate southpaw is keen to press on.

“It’s very special to be back home,” Ward said afterwards.

“I was very confident. I stuck to the plan of good, clean, hard shots. The writing was on the wall – it was just a matter of when it was going to happen.

“I’m ready to take on any of the top guys. I’m ready to fight and I’m excited for 2024.”

In the co-main event of the night, Belfast’s James McGivern (8-0, 2KOs) won the BUI Celtic lightweight title.

McGivern entered title territory with a unanimous decision win over Josh Sandford, whose record drops to 6-1.

McGivern had the belt strapped after taking scores of 78-74, 79-73, 78-75 from the judges.

Liam Walsh stopped David Tancos (1-1) early in the second round of their super-middleweight meeting.

His brother, ‘Pretty Boy’ Paddy Walsh was taken the four-round distance by English journeyman Dale Arrowsmith with Walsh (3-0, 1KO) taking a 40-36 points win from their welterweight joust.

Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Tyler Jolly blasted his way to a third stoppage from three professional bouts. The 24-year-old Scot, who is coached by former three-weight world champion Ricky Burns, dropped Poland’s Damian Haus (4-11-1) three times in the first round for another swift victory.

London-based Danny Boyle returned to Donegal to claim a 60-53 points win against Bulgarian Evgeni Borisov.

Navan super-feather Cain Lewis moved his thus-far unbeaten record to 4-0-1 as he claimed a first stoppage win of his pro career. Lewis cracked Jan Gorol (4-3) with a right-hander after 54 seconds of the third round and the Czech opponent was counted out.

Galway cruiserweight Jason Myers (1-0, 1KO) demonstrated the ‘Hands of Stone’ moniker he fights under with a debut win over Bulgarian Martin Milev (1-1).

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