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Ward vs. Brand: Andre will have size advantage

Andre Ward

By Allan Fox: In a fight that many boxing fans see an unfair match-up, unbeaten light heavyweight Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) will be facing a nearly 40-year-old fighter named Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 KOs) this Saturday night on August 6 on HBO Boxing at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. The fight won’t be a title fight, and it’s scheduled for 12 rounds.

Ward, 32, will be bigger, younger and faster than Brand. Why Ward ever agreed to fight Brand rather than one of the more viable contenders in the 175lb division is unknown. It’s hard for boxing fans to get motivated to see Ward fight guys that are out of his league and still fighting in a division that he left a long time ago.

If Ward has problems beating Brand on Saturday night, then you have to conclude that he’ll be over his head when he gets inside the ring with Sergey Kovalev on November 19.

“I’ve never seen Brand in person,” said Ward. “It’s tricky; in my last fight, Sullivan Barrera was a little bit bigger than me. Everyone made a big deal about that, and Brand is smaller than me. You’ve got to be able to get it done, short or tall, explosive or wild. Brand is wild, so it’s going to take a few rounds to break him down and tame him before we start doing what we want to do,” said Ward.

If this is all Ward’s promoters could get for him to fight, then it’s kind of disappointing, because this was supposed to be a tune-up to get Ward ready for a much tougher fight against the tall unbeaten champion Sergey Kovalev on November 19. Brand is the type of fighter that Ward should be fighting to get ready to fight a super middleweight champion, not a light heavyweight guy.

Ward probably should have rejected the fight completely when it was offered to him, but that would have likely resulted in him not getting the payday from HBO. This is a tune-up fight after all, but if Ward is going to be fighting older fighters like Brand and over-matched super middleweights like Paul Smith, then it’s not going to be too much fun watching his future fights.

Since moving up to light heavyweight last year, Ward has fought one super middleweight in Paul Smith and one 175lb fighter in Sullivan Barrera. Ward’s fight against Brand on Saturday night will be his second fight against a super middleweight since moving to the 175lb division.

Basically, Ward is taking the Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. approach in moving up in weight, but still fighting guys from his old division. Chavez Jr. moved from middleweight to super middleweight in 2013, but he’s continued to fight middleweights for the most part rather than fighting super middleweights.

As a championship-caliber fighter, you’ve got to be able to deal with everything, every style and size. I’ve never seen the guy in person, so it’s hard to gauge,” said Ward about Brand.

The 5’10 ½” Brand will be giving up close to two inches to the 6-foot Ward when he gets inside the ring with him on Saturday night on August 6. This isn’t the first time that Ward has fought a smaller guy than him in his boxing career. He’s always done well against smaller guys than himself, and I suspect that he’ll continue that trend on Saturday night with hi easily out-boxing the smaller 40-ish Brand.

The good news for boxing fans that can come from the Ward vs. brand fight is that we won’t see Ward fighting another soft old guy in his next fight after that, because he’ll have to step up and face Kovalev. After three mismatches, Ward will need to take a risky fight that he could very well lose. If he loses, which I think he will, then he’ll need to make up his mind whether he wants to continue to stay up with the big boys at 175 or go back to 168 and continue to be avoided by the best fighter sin that division.

It’s possible that if Ward looks bad against Brand and loses to Kovalev that the super middleweights won’t mind fighting him. Ward may find that the super middleweight contenders smell blood in the water and will go after Ward eagerly in a feeding frenzy as they sense weakness that comes with old age.

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