If former super middleweight champion Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) puts in another less than impressive performance in his next fight against 39-year-old Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 KOs), it won’t be due to him not being full prepared for the fight.
Ward is working hard in training camp to get ready for his interim fight against the little known Brand at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
HBO will be televising the fight, which figures to be a mismatch. Ward has taken flak for fighting an old 168lb fighter rather than a guy from the 175lb division.
Ward, 31, hasn’t looked great in his last two fights against Sullivan Barrera and Paul Smith after coming off of a two-year layoff.
The time out of the ring has left Ward looking like a changed fighter for the worse. Ward doesn’t look as good as he did before his long layoff, and it’s doubtful that he’ll ever be able to get back what he lost through inactivity.
“Regardless of his age, he’s no bum,” said Ward about the 39-year-old Brand. “He’s the type of guy who puts his head down and swings for the fences. Those are very dangerous guys, and to be honest with you, it’s easier fighting the top guys with more form and more technique than it is fighting a guy who has nothing to lose.”
It’s interesting to see Ward trying to build up his nearly 40-year-old opponent as a dangerous guy. I don’t think it’s going to work for Ward to try and build Brand up to the media and the boxing fans. That’s Brand’s promoter’s job. When you see Brand’s opponents building him up as the best thing since sliced bread, then that’s a big, big hint that this fight is a mismatch. Instead of Ward building up Brand, he should be getting on his promoter’s case at Roc Nation Sports to make sure they don’t keep putting him in with guys that have no chance like Brand.
“It’s a dangerous fight. It’s a fight that I have to be on point for and that’s just how the cookie crumbles,” said Ward. “He loads up on a lot of shots. He doesn’t have a lot of nuance about him. He’s not trying to set things up. He’s just swinging hard, that’s what he does. He’ll try to move and get some space when he wants to rest. Because of different things like that even if he gets hit with a good shot, he is able to survive. I’m going to have to be really determined just to let him do everything that he is going to do, however he does it, and stay locked in on hitting him and hitting him until the fight is over, and hopefully, being the first to stop him.”
Ward didn’t show much in his last fight against Sullivan Barrera last March. Ward looked like a super middleweight with no power and the wrong fighting style for the 175lb division. Ward’s pot shot fighting is not a good one for the light heavyweight division where you have to be able throw combinations and flurries if you want to succeed. Ward is still using the Floyd Mayweather Jr. fighting style, and that’s not going to work in the light heavyweight division.
Once Ward beats Brand, he’ll be set to face IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev on November 19 on HBO PPV at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ward will surely lose that fight if he doesn’t show that he can do more than throw pot shots. He’s not going to beat a fighter like Kovalev by throwing one punch at a time and then looking to grab. That old style worked for Ward in the Super Six tournament against limited fighters like Carl Froch, Allan Green and Mikkel Kessler, but it’s not going to work against a smart fighter with power like Kovalev.
Ward needs to use his fight against Brand as practice for the Kovalev fight. My advice is for Ward to show that he can let his hands go against Brand, because he’s not going to beat Kovalev by using the punch and grab technique against him.