“Mighty” Joe Ward finally got in the ring against Oscar Riojas, stopping the Mexican-based veteran in the fifth round at the Dome in Rosemont, Illinois, in their delayed scrap. The light heavyweight contest had earlier been scheduled for March 25 in Montreal, Canada.
Elsewhere, there were wins for Dubliners Tony Browne and Ryan O’Rourke in their respective American debuts, in upstate Schenectady, New York. Browne, a light heavyweight, outpointed recent Ward victim Leandro Silva. O’Rourke, a welterweight, outclassed Frenchman Faycal Rezkallah.
Ward was relentless against Riojas in his eighth professional fight. The southpaw out of Westmeath was on the attack from the first bell, pressuring his foe. He pummeled Riojas with combinations that he often punctuated with right hooks to the body.
In round five, a jab-straight left combination hurt Riojas. Ward followed up with another vicious combination on the ropes that resulted in the stoppage at 1:38 of the fifth stanza in what Ward’s first scheduled eight-rounder.
He upped his ledger to 7-1 with four KOs while Riojas’ dropped to 28-14-1.
Co-promoter Lou DiBella, who’s hailed Ward as the next John Duddy, was delighted by his charge’s victory.
“As former Irish Olympians go, Joe Ward is one of the best and undoubtedly one of the must-watch prospects in the light-heavyweight division,” DiBella told the media. “Since the devastating injury on his pro debut, Joe’s comeback has been extraordinary and he’s at full strength -- 2022 will be a year of growth where he can establish his credentials as a championship contender.”
BROWNE & O’ROURKE
At The Rivers Casino in Schenectady, 6-foot-3 Tony “Super Fly” Browne had his way with Leandro Silva in their eight-rounder. The Brazilian, a former UFC competitor, was coming off a six-round loss to Ward on Long Island last November. Browne improved to 4-1. Silva is now 3-5.
On the same Schenectady card, Ryan “The Silent Assassin” O’Rourke produced an early signature win with his unanimous points decision over previously over Faycal Rezkallah, who’d only lost once before.
O’Rourke, who’s 22, is now 8-0 with one KO. Rezkallah slipped to 6-2-1.