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Ward vs. Brand: Andre ready to win

Andre Ward

By Scott Gilfoid: Andre Ward will be looking to show his stuff this Saturday night in what amounts to be the sacrificial lamb against the brave but limited Alexander Brand on HBO Boxing on August 6 at the Oracle Arena in the very, very beautiful Oakland, California. Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) will be making his third fight at light heavyweight after moving up to the 175lb division in 2015 in search of bigger mountains to climb. Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) will give it his best shot in this fight, but Ward’s size advantage and talent will make it tough on him.

Honestly, the talented Ward would still likely be at super middleweight if he could get the top fighters to face him, but after nine years in that weight class, Ward decided to move up to 175 in order to get bigger fights.

At 168, Ward could no longer get the best fighters to get in the ring with him. Once the Super Six tournament ended, Ward was unable to get rematches with Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch. It’s too bad because it would have been nice to see those fighters race each other again. Ward soundly beat Froch and Kessler in the Super Six tournament in proving he was the better fighter than those guys. But once the tourney ended, Ward found few takers that were interested in mixing it up with him, which is understandable because he was clearly the No.1 fighter in the super middleweight division.

Ward, 32, has trained hard, very hard, for his fight this Saturday night against the capable Alexander Brand, and his ribs are showing now. That’s a clear sign of how hard this talent has worked in getting ready for the 39-year-young Brand.

“My ribs are showing, I’m hungry. I’ll see you all Saturday night,” said Ward. “This man [Brand] is coming, this is his super bowl. Because this is his super bowl, it has to be my super bowl. I’m excited about the future. I want to be the light-heavyweight champion of the world, a two division champion. Everyone knows that, but it’s impossible for me to overlook this man (Brand),” said Ward.

I totally agree with you, Mr. Ward. This IS Brand’s Super Bowl on Saturday night, and you can bet that he’s going to be swinging for the fences with every punch he throws. You cannot afford to take it for granted that you’re going to whip Brand, because he could get lucky with one of his big power shots and score a knockout.

Brand is one of the super middleweight division’s best kept secrets. Not much is said about him mainly because he hasn’t been matched up against guys like James DeGale, Badou Jack, George Groves, Callum Smith and Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez. I think Brand has enough talent to pick off some of those guys. I’m not saying he could best them all, but I think he has the talent to possibly whip Groves and Smith. Beating DeGale, Ramirez and Jack would be a tougher ask for him. However, on a good night, I think Brand could possibly pick one of those guys off and add their scalps to his collection.

For Ward, this is his last hurdle before he faces unbeaten Sergey Kovalev on November 19 in a fight slotted for HBO pay-per-view. Kovalev is the IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion. He’s a decent fighter, but as we saw in his recent win over Isaac Chilemba last July, he’s very, very flawed. Chilemba gave Kovalev a great deal of problems in that fight, and it was painfully obvious from watching it that Ward will be far too talented for the Russian fighter once they meet up. I see the Ward vs. Kovalev fight as an official handing over of the belts with Kovalev losing to Ward and losing his light heavyweight straps in the process.

Brand is going to fight tooth and nail against Ward, to be sure, but at the end of the night, I see Ward as being far too good for him. I don’t expect Ward to clown Brand, because he has too much respect for his opponents to showboat and intentionally rub it in while dominating them, but I do see it being such a one-sided fight that Ward will be able to stay in 1st gear for the most part. I hope for Brand’s sake, he doesn’t get dispirited and just give up the ship and let Ward have his way. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that we’re going to see just that take place on Saturday night due to Ward’s talent being just too good for Brand.

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