Joe Ward got himself off to the perfect start at the 41st European Amateur Boxing Championships in Samokov, Bulgaria, today. The Moate light heavyweight had an impressive win over Russia’s Idris Shakhmanov in the Round of 32.
21 year old Shakhmanov was a decorated under-age boxer – almost rivaling Ward’s achievements – having won European and World Junior gold as well as World Youth bronze, however he could not handle the skill levels of the Westmeath southpaw who scored a comprehensive unanimous decision win (30-27, 30-26, 30-25).
The opening round was cagey in the beginning but Ward was always in control – first to the jab, landing the cleaner shots, and scoring with a few big lefts.
The second was more of a fight, and Big Joe’s stint on the AIBA Pro Boxing circuit certainly seeming to help him as he sat down on his shots more, steamrolling the young Chechen, who was hanging on towards the end of the round.
Shakhmanov came out fast in the last round, but Ward quickly reasserted his dominance, landing at will from the back foot. There was little doubt as the scorecards were read out after what was a successful return to the vest and the 3×3 minute rounds format for Ward.
Ward will now face Nikoloz Sekhniashvili of Georgia – who had an impressive stoppage win today – in the Round of 16 on Tuesday evening.