Andre Ward faces Alexander Brand on HBO
By Dan Ambrose: It’s now official: Light heavyweight contender Andre Ward (29-, 15 KOs) will be putting his unbeaten record on the line in less than two months from now against #10 WBA Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) on August 6 on HBO at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. This isn’t the fight that the boxing world wants to see.
The fans want to see Ward fight iBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev. However, the two fighters agreed to take interim fights before facing each other later this year on November 19 on HBO PPV. Fans were hoping that Ward would take on a tough opponent for his tune-up, but it looks like he and his promoters at Roc Nation Sports decided to play it safe by choosing the 39-year-old Brand, whose only loss of his career was to Badou Jack in 2012 in losing an eight round split decision. Jack was also Brand’s only true quality opponent he’s faced during his career.
Brand has a lot of knockouts in his seven-year pro career, but his knockout has come against lower level opposition for the most part. Brand was unable to KO Badou Jack Madzhid Beltemirov, the best opponents he’s faced. Even though Brand is badly over-matched against Ward, he could surprise him if he can land one of his power shots with full force.
Ward has been hurt in the past in his fight against Darnell Boone in 2005 in getting knocked down in round four. Ward got up and was badly hurt, but Boone was unable finish him off. Brand has the kind of power that could give Ward problems if he can land enough of his shots.
Ward’s last two opponents Sullivan Barrera and Paul Smith weren’t able to connect with many shots against him, although Smith appeared to shake him up with a big right hand in the 7th. Smith didn’t pounce on Ward the way he needed to after stunning him with a right hand and this enabled Ward to retake control of the fight.
Ward’s promoters at Roc Nation kept Brand in the pipeline after they were unable to make a fight with him last November due to Ward suffering a knee injury. They were going to fight on HBO PPV on the Miguel Cotto vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez fight card. Roc Nation obviously think Brand is the perfect opponent for Ward for them to want to reschedule the fight nine months later.
It would have been a lot more interesting if Roc Nation had fought a better opponent than Brand like Artur Beterbiev or Marcus Browne. Either of those two would have made it very interesting for the fight fans to see how well Ward could go against fighters with the power and the size to knock him out. After all, this is what Ward’s going to be dealing with when he faces Kovalev later this year.
“We can get it on, right now,” said Ward. “August 6th, I will be ready, so come out to Oracle Arena or tune in live on HBO. Don’t miss it.”
You have no idea how many opponents we had to go through to get here. It's done & I'm excited to go to work on 8/6. pic.twitter.com/ilR6au5E0V
— Andre S.O.G. Ward (@andreward) June 28, 2016
It’s interesting to see Ward talk so boldly in facing an opponent so out of his league and so old as the nearly 40-year-old Brand is. I could understand Ward talking like this if he were facing someone that had the talent to make it a competitive match, but this isn’t the case. Brand is a step down from Ward’s last opponent Sullivan Barrera, who he beat by a 12 round decision last March at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. Ward, 31, won the fight by the scores 117-109, 119-107 and 117-109. Barrera didn’t have the hand speed to compete with Ward. Brand is surprisingly faster than Barrera and just as powerful. However, Brand is also very easy to hit. Ward should be able to hit him with everything he throws in the fight.
“We were set to face each other last November, but he was forced to pull out of the fight with an injury,” said Brand. “Now the time has come to fight him and I can’t wait to derail his future plans. I’ll work hard to spoil them.”
If Brand is able to land his shots, Ward is going to have problems. Brand has power that is close to some of the top fighters Ward has fought in the past like Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch. I don’t think Brand can punch as hard as them, but he’s pretty close and he’s got better hand speed.