Joe Ward’s pro debut was meant to signify the start of what he hoped would be a promising career for the Irish fighter.
Fighting at Madison Square Garden, on the undercard of Gennadiy Golovkin’s middleweight title win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko in 2019, it wasn’t supposed to get any better than that.
However, things took a turn for the worse just four minutes into the fight. Having already won the first round against Marco Delgado, Ward seemed to be on his way to a victory until he landed awkwardly on one leg and dislocated his kneecap, immediately ending his debut. What’s worse is that the fight result ended up being a TKO loss for Ward, despite it being a freak injury.
For more than a year, it was the only thing he could see on his pro fight resume. Even after taking several months rehab his injury and having a fight set up in spring 2020, the current pandemic ensured that he had to wait until the end of the year to fight again.
Ward said the recovery was tough, but it was one where he didn’t slack off. Ward said he spent his time in the gym, making sure he was more than ready for his eventual return.
Once he did, he took full advantage of not one, but two fight opportunities in the span of 13 days in Mexico. Ward didn’t just pick up a win, but left Mexico with a win streak (scoring two TKO victories in the first round) and back on track.
“We were scheduled to fight in Mexico and see how that first fight went. It went really well and I wanted to be active and the only way to be active is to take as many fights as I can. I felt ready to go the day after the first fight and I had to wait a week before the next fight. It felt great to be back,” Ward said.
Now, he’s got one thing on his mind: avenging the “loss” to Delgado. The Irish prospect now has that opportunity as the two are set to fight in Puerto Rico on March 18 as part of Ring City USA’s broadcast on NBC Sports Network.
For Ward, it’s a fight he’s been looking forward to for quite some time. Once he got the call that he was getting to fight Delgado a second time, this time in Puerto Rico on national television, he couldn’t be more excited.
“It was a fight that I really wanted ever since I got back on my feet. I’m really looking forward to fighting Delgado. It’s not different from any other fight. I just have to prepare myself really well. I’m going to be ruthless. I fought Delgado at Madison Square Garden. Everything was going well. I just need to take my time. It was a freak injury, but outside of my control. Since then, everything’s gone really well.”Joe Ward
“I was really excited. It gave more motivation to work hard in the gym and get it right because we all know what happened in the end back in 2019. Everyone talks about it, so I just want to make things right and move on to bigger and better things. My amateur record speaks for itself, but this is the pros. I need to get the ball rolling and get as many fights as possible,” Ward said.
With a win, Ward not only puts the first bout with Delgado behind him, but also starts his journey to become a contender. At 27 years old, Ward knows he needs to stay active and his plan is to be a ranked contender by the end of 2022.
However, those plans will matter if Ward doesn’t get a win over Delgado in their second go-around.
“This year’s going to be big for me. I need to beat Delgado on the 18th and then move on to hopefully have a busy year. I need to get more fights and hopefully shoot up the rankings and be a contender in the next 12 to 18 months,” Ward said.
Ward vs. Delgado takes place on the March 18 Ring City USA card from Puerto Rico, airing on NBC Sports Network.
Full interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27GFhm56H2Q