Ireland’s hopes of a medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have suffered a setback with the news that Westmeath boxer Joe Ward is to turn professional.
Light heavyweight Ward has signed a deal with management company Times Square Boxing in the USA.
He will be managed by Joe Winters.
Ward’s decision means Kellie Harrington is now the clear hope to win a boxing medal for Ireland in Japan.
The 25-year-old said: “My decision to turn professional was not easy. 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.”
The Moate man said he is “confident” Times Square Boxing will help him to become a world champion.
He said: “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.”
Winters said Ward was “a rare talent that only comes along once in a generation.
He said: “We are excited for Joe’s future. We believe he will become a superstar and a future world champion.”