Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) defeated 39-year-old Alexander Brand (25-2, 19 KOs) in an incredibly boring 12 round unanimous decision victory on Saturday night in Ward’s tune-up fight on HBO Boxing from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. The final judges’ scores were 120-108, 120-108 and 120-108.
It was impossible to give the 40-ish Brand any rounds in the fight because he came just to survive and didn’t bother trying to initiate any real action. Ward looked slow, inaccurate with his punches, hesitant, and not the fighter he was five years ago. The years of inactivity and his advancing age has taken a huge part of Ward’s game. He’s now just a pot shot fighter that throws a lot of jabs. Ward didn’t put his punches together tonight, because he doesn’t look like he can do that at his age.
Brand’s right eye was reddened in the 7th after taking a stabbing jab from Ward. Other than that, there wasn’t much damage done to either fighter. Ward had a bump on his forehead from a clash of heads. He got out of the fight unscathed for the most part.
With Brand looking too timid to let his hands go, Ward’s confidence began to grow starting in the 8th round. Ward started loading up on single rights and lefts and nailing Brand occasionally. However, Ward was missing with a lot of his power shots, and immediately tying up after he’d throw a punch. He was’t trying to put his punches together in any real way. It was the same kind of performance from Ward that we saw in his previous fight against Sullivan Barrera last March. Ward would throw a single punch and would then tie up his opponent. Ward didn’t seem capable of throwing more than a single shot, which often missed.
In the 12th round, Ward pressed the attack looking to land a big knockout shot. However, Brand nailed Ward with a hard left hook to the head in the last minute of the round that stopped Ward’s momentum, causing him to back off a foot. It’s unclear whether Ward was hurt or mentally shook from the punches. Whatever it was, Ward stopped throwing throwing any meaningful punches after getting nailed with that shot. This emboldened Brand, who came forward and landed several more nice shots before the round ended. Brand finished the round looking good, and you have to wonder why he didn’t go after Ward like that earlier in the fight. Ward did not react well to that one hard left from Brand, and I think it took something out of him. It looks like Ward can’t take a hard shot at the light heavyweight level. The thing is, Ward wasn’t even fighting a light heavyweight. He was facing a powerful super middleweight, who looked like he had just come to survive rather than to try and win. But that shot that Brand hit Ward with seemed to really take something out of him.
The size difference was huge between the two fighters. The smallish 5’10” Brand was too short to land his power shots, and his limited reach prevented him from being able to connect with his punches. In watching Brand whiff with his punches all night long, it was pretty obvious why Ward’s management hand-picked him rather than someone that had the height and reach to land shots against Ward. As limited as Ward looked tonight, 19-year-old super middleweight contender David Benavidez would have given him a ton of problems had he been in the ring with Ward tonight instead of the tiny, 39-year-old Brand.
After the fight, IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev met with Ward inside the ring to discuss their November 19 fight on HBO PPV. Kovalev looked bigger and taller than the 6’0″ Ward, and it was pretty surprising given that they’re both listed at 6’0. If Alexander Brand had Kovalev’s size tonight, I think we would have seen a much different fight than the boring one that transpired. Kovalev has to like what he saw in looking how vulnerable, one-dimensional and old Ward appeared. Kovalev’s last opponent Isaac Chilemba looked more impressive than what we saw from Ward tonight. Chilemba is a pretty sharp fighter and he hasn’t taken huge stretches of time away from boxing like we’ve seen from Ward in the last four years.
All in all, I think Ward fought poorly tonight against Brand. Ward showed that he can only throw one punch at a time, and that he’s afraid to throw more than that because his accuracy is poor and he appears to be afraid to get countered. If Ward was afraid to ge countered by the smallish Brand, I think it’ll really bad for him when he’s inside the ring with murderous puncher with the size and punching power of Kovalev. It’s not only Kovalev that would give Ward major problems. Adonis Stevenson, Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. would all be real problems for Ward at this point in his career. All of those fighters have knockout power in each hand, and they would have no issues in going after Ward in looking to score a knockout. Ward doesn’t have enough offense to keep those guys off of him. Ward was never a really offensively oriented fighter during his career, but the age and the inactivity had robbed Ward of his once impressive skills. He’s now just a limited fighter that throws pot shots and looks to hold nonstop.
If Ward were smart, he would look to get another tune-up out of HBO before he faces Kovalev because I don’t think he’s ready yet. Ward needs to fight someone with the size, power, and the skills that would approximate what he’ll be seeing from Kovalev. If Ward’s promoters at Roc Nation Sports could dig deep, they could get the likes of Beterbiev to fight him in the next three months. That would be a great tune-up fight for Ward. I’m not sure if Ward could win the fight against Beterbiev, but at least the boxing fans could save the money that they would have spent on watching Ward fight Kovalev on HBO PPV.