Rio Olympian Joe Ward will remain in the amateur ranks up until the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The Westmeath southpaw, who has been attracting the attention of pro promoters since winning his third European Elite light-heavy gold in the Ukraine last month, confirmed that he will remain in the amateur code until the 32nd Olympiad.
Irish elite men’s and women’s boxing is building up toward a crucial August, with the women’s squad slated to compete at the EU Women’s Championships which begin in Cascia, Italy on August 4 and the men’s team preparing for the AIBA World Elite Championships which gloves off in Hamburg, Germany on August 25.
Both squads have training camps lined up France and Sheffield for July and August.
Ward, who will be aiming for his third successive world medal in Hamburg, and European Games and European Elite medallists Kurt Walker, Brendan Irvine and Sean McComb, will represent Ireland at the 19th World Championships.
And Ward said he was honoured to be handed the role of captain in the Irish men’s squad going forward.
“There was a lot of interest to go professional, and a lot of interest to stay amateur,” Ward told RTÉ Sport.
“I sat down with my family and with Bernard and I saw Bernard’s vision – what he wanted to achieve and the role he wanted me to play in the team.
“He wanted me to be captain of this team and to lead the team to Tokyo. To get that opportunity is a massive honour.”
The Irish quartet-qualified for Hamburg at the European Elite Championships in the Ukraine last month.
Three medals were claimed in the Ukraine, combined with six medals at the European Women’s Youth and Junior Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria last weekend.
High-Performance Director Bernard Dunne hailed the performances of the Irish squads in Kharkiv and Sofia and described the performances of Ireland’s female prospects in the Bulgarian capital as world class.
The former Irish Elite and WBA world champion said that the development of Irish women’s boxing, which delivered Ireland’s only Olympic gold medal in all sports this century courtesy of Katie Taylor, is a top priority.
“The future is bright for Irish female boxing and we have to make sure that we bring it along in the right way and give our female boxers as much support as we possibly can,” he said.
Irish head coach Zaur Antia, who along with the Irish coaching staff, helped steer Ireland to 4th spot in the medals table in the Ukraine, expressed confidence that Team Ireland will perform well in Cascia and Hamburg.