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Ward vs. Brand next Saturday


By Allan Fox: Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) will be making his tune-up fight against Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) next Saturday night on on August 6 HBO from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. This is a rust-ridding fight that Ward wanted to help sharpen him up for a title shot against unbeaten IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev for their November 19 fight.

Kovalev’s trainer John David Jackson says that Brand, 39, probably wasn’t paid very much money for the fight. For Ward to have gotten a good opponent, his promoters at Roc Nation Sports would have needed to come up with good money.

Brand isn’t supposed to give Ward any problems, and Jackson feels that he’ll end up taking away the Columbian fighter’s best weapons and wind up frustrating him.

“I’m not so worried about this fight with Brand with him getting upset or hurt or injured,” said Jackson to” I think it’s the right fight that they had to take to move Andre forward. I don’t think he [Alexander Brand] is being paid that much, so they had to get a guy to accommodate…they may have wanted somebody tougher, but they probably couldn’t have gotten anybody for what they got who they have now. I think this is more or less a fight to get some of the rust off of him.”

It’s unclear how much Brand is being paid for the fight against Ward. The most disappointing thing of all is the fact that Brand isn’t even a light heavyweight; although he is ranked in the 175lb division. Brand is a super middleweight, so it’s a fight that really won’t prepare Ward in any real way for the size, power and the kind of shots that he’s going to be getting hit with by the 6-foot Kovalev on November 19.

The best guy for Ward to fight as preparation for Kovalev is unbeaten contender Artur Beterbiev, but he’s obviously too dangerous and too good for him to be used as a tune-up opponents. Beterbiev would have too much of a chance of beating Ward, and that obviously wouldn’t work out too well for Ward.

“Sergey has to come out and establish his pace early and make Andre fight his fight early,” said Jackson. “He has to let Andre know right away, you’re not going to dominate me the way you dominate everybody else. We’re not going to play your game. Listen, Andre’s good, but Andre makes three major mistakes, and I won’t say what they are, but he makes three major mistakes and if Sergey can expose any one of those three, it’s lights out!”

It’s obvious what one of the mistakes Ward makes in his fights. He doesn’t throw enough punches. He’s too much of a pot shot fighter, and he resorts to a lot of wrestling to smother his opponent’s offense. Earlier in his career, Ward used to be able to move around quickly in the ring, and he had fairly fast hands. But the inactivity that has impacted Ward’s career in the last four years since 2012, it’s slowed down his hand and foot speed.

Ward now looks like 30+ year old fighter trying to do the things that are best left for fighters in their 20s. It’s difficult for fighters in their 30s to move a lot without tiring themselves out. For that reason, it’s not surprising that Ward doesn’t move around the ring like he did four years ago. He’s older now, and not the same fighter that he was in his youth.

If Alexander Brand’s trainer is aware of the same flaws in Ward’s game that Kovalev’s trainer Jackson is, then Ward could be in for a lot of problems next Saturday night. It doesn’t matter that Brand isn’t a light heavyweight or someone that is well known; he could still give Ward a lot of problems. Brand appears to be a better fighter than Paul Smith and close to being as good as Sullivan Barrera, the two guys that Ward has beaten since he resumed his career in 2015 after a two-year layoff. If Brand can walk Ward down and put a great deal of pressure on him the way that Barrera was doing last March, then this could be a really tough fight for Ward. I can’t remember the last time that I saw Ward get hit so often in a fight. Barrera landed a lot of shots, and he didn’t have an inside game to take advantage of Ward when he would miss a shot.

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