Joe Ward agonisingly lost out on a place at the London Olympics after losing on a countback to Ehsan Rouzbahani of Iran at the World Championships and Olympic qualifiers in Baku, Azerbaijan this morning.
The current European light-heavyweight champion and Rouzbahani were tied at 15-15 at the end of the three rounds but the Iranian got the nod on accepted scores.
Both boxers received public warnings for holding in the second and third rounds by Uzbekistani referee Dahodir Jumaniyazov. The first frame ended level at 4-4 but Rouzbahini was 12-8 up going into the third.
Ward won the third 7-3 to tie the bout at 15-15, but Rouzbahini was handed a ticket for the 2012 London Games on a count back.
“I’m really, really disappointed. I just can’t believe that I’ve been beaten. Four of the judges had me winning (in the last round) and one judge had me losing and I lost on a count back. It’s devastating, said 17-year-old Ward.
“I wasn’t stepping back as usual, counter punching. I don’t know what really happened, what came over me at that time.
“That definitely destroyed the fight, added Ward in relation to his public warning in the second round. “I didn’t deserve it. He was doing most of the holding and pulling.”