Ward vs. Brand – Andre taking fight seriously
By Allan Fox: Unbeaten #1 IBF, #2 WBA, #2 WBO light heavyweight contender Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) will be taking what he expects to be a tough fight next month against #10 WBA 175lb contender Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) on August 6 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. This is a fight for Ward to get him ready for his November 19 bout against IBF/IWBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. Ward needs a win to get to the fight with Kovalev, which will be televised on HBO PPV.
Ward, 31, isn’t taking the 39-year-old Brand lightly, even though he’s almost 40-years-old and has fought only once at light heavyweight in his seven-year pro career. Ward has missed too much action in the ring in the last four years for him to take anyone light, even the 39-year-old Brand.
Ward hasn’t looked particularly impressive in his last two fights against Sullivan Barrera and Paul Smith. Some of that is obviously rust on Ward’s part in him missing so much time inside the ring in the last four years, but another part of it is obviously age starting to rear it’s ugly head. Ward is no longer the young fighter that won the Super Six tournament five years ago in 2011. His youth is passing him by and he’s starting to slow down.
“I have to focus on one guy and that’s Alexander Brand on August 6. I will not take him lightly,” said Ward. “If I’m not successful August 6, there is no fight down the road with me and Sergey Kovalev and I’m very clear about that, it’s not just a fight for me. It’s very important for me to look good in the fight, to my standard and to my team’s standard. I have a certain amount of pressure on myself to go out there, perform and hopefully, look good doing it.”
While some boxing fans think Ward looked great in his last fight against Sullivan Barrera, the reality is that he didn’t look good; not when you compare him to how he used to look in the past before he started missing long period of time. Ward in 2011 was clearly a much better fighter than what we saw from him in his last two fights. You can try and whitewash it by pretending that Ward hasn’t lost a thing from his game, but he definitely has lost a lot.
I don’t think he’s going to get the things he lost back by beating an old guy like Brand. For Ward to be the fighter that he was years ago, he would probably need a time machine to go back in time and bring that Ward back with him to fight Brand and then Kovalev in back to back fights.
Bring that, we probably will see Ward tasting defeat for the first time when he gets inside the ring with Kovalev on November 19. I think Ward has enough left to deal with Brand without too many problems on August 6, but I doubt that Ward is going to look good in this fight. He’ll win, but he’ll likely struggle much of the time and not look like the Ward that dominate in the past.
“I can’t wait to derail his future plans. I’ll work hard to spoil them,” said Brand.
The way for Brand to beat Ward is for him to jump on him from the 1st round and look to throw a lot of punches. Ward was never any good at throwing a lot of shots. Now that he’s about to turn 32, Ward is entirely limited to throwing pot shots and covering up. He doesn’t seem capable of throwing more than a handful of punches per round.
If Brand wants to pull off the upset in this fight, he needs to get in Ward’s face, stay close to him, and unload with continuous shots. Ward is best when he’s got an opponent on the outside that he can hit with his pot shots. When they come in close, he tends to tie them up. Brand would need to be able to fight off Ward when he tries to hold on the inside, and continue to land shots. Ward will take a lot of punishment if the hard hitting Brand fights him like that, and I can’t see him being able to win the fight. The problem that Brand has is he’s likely to give up on the inside if Ward starts clinching him frequently, and this will keep him from being able to outwork him the way he needs for him to win.
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