Sunday, August 7, 2016

Big Fight Report: Ward Vs. Brand: Ward Wins But Fails To Shine

AP Photo-Eric Risberg

By Peter Silkov

Andre Ward (30-0, 15koes) last night, August 6th, ticked off what should be his final ‘warm up’ match, in his build up to an eagerly awaited showdown with Sergey Kovalev on November 19, for Kovalev’s World light heavyweight titles. As warm ups go, Ward’s have been lengthy and ultimately uninspiring. Indeed, it could be said that Ward’s whole career, since his brilliant performances in the “Super 6” Tournament, now 5 years passed, has been in essence, a warm up for his promised November encounter with Kovalev.  Harsh perhaps, but Ward’s 5 opponents since he beat Carl Froch in the Super 6 final in December 2011, have all failed to raise the temperature against the ’SOG.’

Last night was no different. In front of his home town fans at the Oracle Arena, in Oakland, California, Ward jousted with Alexander Brand (25-2, 19koes) for 12 rounds, and posted a shut out, winning every round, but as in his recent fights, his dominance wasn’t coloured by brilliance. The fight was dull and Ward failed to shine. Ward’s technical gifts are beyond dispute, but when a fighter is considered one of the top p4p boxers on the planet, something extra is expected of him against fighters of Brand’s calibre. It is not so much Ward’s failure to stop Brand that is troubling, rather his failure to show much, beyond the ordinary, for most of the fight. We only saw flashes of the kind of ability that Ward showed over 5 years ago now in the Super 6 Tournament.

AP Photo-Eric Risberg
Brand himself was game and came to fight, in what was his chance of a lifetime shot against Ward.  Yet the 39-year-old, who has spent his career fighting at super-middleweight against opponents several levels below that of the ‘SOG,’ was out-matched in every department. In many ways, the match looked like a fight between a full light heavyweight and a super-middleweight, with the difference in size and strength, compounding Ward’s advantages in speed, and skill.  Yet despite being out-classed, Brand never seemed in danger of being stopped, and with his gutsy efforts, he at times threatened to drag Ward into the kind of physical fight that would have suited him. It does beg the question as to how the fight might have been different had Brand been a full- fledged light heavyweight, rather than a pumped up super-middleweight.
After 12 rounds of uneventful boxing, where each round tended to gel into each other, Ward won an unanimous point’s decision via three scores of 120-108.

In his post interview, Ward was joined in the ring by Sergey Kovalev to confirm and talk up their November 19 showdown. Refreshingly, both fighters are respectful of each other, giving a nice throwback feel to their the November 19 match.  This is a genuine match between two very talented fighters for a genuine world championship, with not a catch weight clause in sight. While Ward will deserve credit for taking on Kovalev, whether he wins or loses, one must question the opposition that he has chosen for his warm up fights. There is a nagging feeling having watched Ward’s most recent fight that he would have benefited from being matched against a genuine world class light heavyweight contender, rather than the inexperienced, and overmatched opponents of his last 3 fights. Also, are 5 competitive fights in five years enough preparation before taking on someone like Sergey Kovalev.

It is true that ‘The Krusher’ himself was not overly impressive in his recent title defence against the slippery and defence-minded Issac Chilemba. The difference between Chilemba and Brand is that Chilemba is a full-fledged world class lightheavyweight, who is capable of making the very best fighters look ordinary, while Brand is simply a gutsy, but limited fringe contender, who usually operates at super middleweight.

Ward stated recently that he didn’t even watch Kovalev’s recent title defence against Issac Chilemba. If that is to be believed, then one must wonder whether Ward is taking ‘The Krusher’ too lightly. The truth, however, is that Ward has probably been poring over every minute, every round of Kovalev’s most recent performance.

It is hard to see how Ward’s most recent opposition will prepare him for what he will face against Sergey Kovalev. It will take brilliance from Ward for him to beat ‘The Krusher’ on November 19 later this year. It is a brilliance that Ward has not had to show for almost 5 years. One thing that is for certain is that against Kovalev, Ward will face his first real live challenge since he met Car Froch , an the ‘SOG’ still shine?

The highlight of the Ward vs. Brand undercard was lanky light welterweight, Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker’s (21-0-2, 16koes) 1st round demolition of Ty Barnett (23-6-1, 15koes.)  After dropping Barnett with a vicious left-hook, bombarded Barnett with bombs when he beat the count, until the referee had finally seen enough after 2:17 of the round. With this win, Hooker retained his NABO Light welterweight title and showed that he is one to watch.

Also on the undercard:

Light heavyweight Junior ‘The Young God’ Younan (10-0, 8koes) koed Jinner Guerrero (8-7, 6koes) in the 1st round.  A spectacular left hand flattened Guerrero.

At Heavyweight, Darmani ‘Rock Solid’ Rock (4-0, 3koes) was taken the distance for the first time over 4 rounds, by Mike Kyle (1-3-1, 1ko.) Rock had Kyle down in the 4th round but couldn’t keep him there. Scores for Rock were 40-35, 39-36, and 39-36.

Junior lightweight Daniel ‘Twitch’ Franco (14-0-3, 9koes) koed Marcelo Gallardo (7-4-2, 3koes) in the 5th round, after having him down in the 1st.

Ward Vs. Brand:

Copyright © 2016 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

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