Joe Ward has turned professional.
The 25-year-old will make the switch to the paid ranks immediately, ruling him out of contention for Tokyo 2020.
Ward has signed a pro contract with Times Square Boxing based in New York with promoter Joe Winters.
The Moate boxer was regarded as a strong contender for a medal in Japan, but has somewhat surprisingly opted to turn pro now rather than wait until after next summer’s Olympic games.
Ward represented Ireland at Rio 2016, and is also a two-time World silver medallist.
In 2017, the Irish amateur captain became the first ever Irish male boxer to win gold medals at three European Championships – 2011, 2015, and 2017 – and he has also amassed gold medals at the World Junior and the World Youth Championships.
“My decision to turn professional was not easy,” the Westmeath man said in a statement via the Irish Times.
“I will miss my team, however, I felt the time was right for me and my family.
“I loved fighting for Ireland and had a very rewarding amateur career. I was happy that I could bring success and medals to my country, and that in the past few years I could help mentor some of my younger teammates.
“I’m excited to represent my country in the professional ranks and bring a world championship home to Ireland.
“I believe it is important to surround yourself with the right people and I found great partners in Joe Winters and Adam Glenn at Times Square Boxing, who understand the sport and business of boxing.
“I’m confident Times Square Boxing will help me achieve my professional goals to become a world champion.”
David is the editor of The Season Ticket.
He is a qualified journalist, and a long-suffering Meath and Liverpool supporter.