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  Ward Proves Nothing With Shutout Win Over Brand

By Andrew LaPachet - FightNetRadio.com
Photo: Richard Lopez

 

Oracle Arena, Oakland Ca - Going into last night’s fight the expectations were that the undefeated former undisputed super middleweight champion Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KO’s) would make easy work of journeyman Alexander Brand (25-2, 19 KO’s). Brand, a super middleweight moving up was listed at 5’10 1/2”, but looked much smaller than his 6’0” opponent. Brand also had not been that active as of late, having only 4 fights in 3 years. He is short, heavy and slow, the perfect opponent for a Pound for Pound fighter like Ward. His opportunity to look invincible for his loyal hometown crowd of 8,653 one last time before the plane flies to Las Vegas for what will be the biggest fight of the 2016. All Ward had to do was show up and perform.

Ward did just that with a shutout victory on all 3 scorecards. (120-108). The fight was never close or competitive. Each round looked the same as the overmatched Brand found it difficult to land punches throughout the night. A total of 45 landed punches are what Compu-box credited Brand with after the fight. Never touching Ward ten times in one round. In three of the twelve rounds Compu-box showed Brand landed less than three punches per round. As for Ward, the story played out much differently. Landing 190 punches out of 490 total thrown. He landed at will and looked flawless in almost every aspect of the fight except for the fact that for the second fight in a row Andre’s right hand has been a non factor.

In 2012, Ward had surgery on his right shoulder to repair a tear. Reports indicated that the surgery was a success but with little evidence as Ward would only fight two times from September 2012 to March of this year. Both fights were against limited opponents but Ward was given a pass simply because of the situation he was in. Not only facing rehab from surgery, Ward was in an ugly dispute with late promoter Dan Goossen. It wasn’t until this year under new promotional company Roc Nation that we have really had a chance to gauge where Andre is at this point of his career. His first fight in a new division was in March when he went up against undefeated but also very inexperienced Sullivan Barrera. During and after the fight many ringside observers felt Ward had hurt his right hand. The question was asked but Ward assured everybody the right hand was fine; we believed it and moved on, again blaming inactivity.

The excuses have run out this time. In last night’s fight, Ward not only tried beating Brand with one arm he also tried switching to southpaw where he had little success. A few big straight left hands landed but Brand also landed more punches when Ward fought from the southpaw stance which made the former champ rethink his game plan. Ward had huge lapses during the early part of the fight where he didn’t throw a right hand at all, a major flaw going into a fight against the best right hand in the division. After the fight Ward said it was his wife that asked that he switch back to southpaw, but seeing how ineffective the right has been this year makes one suspect it could be something else that is making the Ward team rethink their approach. Was he trying for fun or because he has no other option? That should be the big question going into the November 19 fight with Undisputed Light Heavyweight kingpin Sergey Kovalev.

From the outside looking in, Ward is either still fighting with a hurt shoulder or taking poor advice outside of the ring on how he approaches his new career, in a new division. Whatever it is, the outcome will not be good against Kovalev if he doesn’t figure it out soon. The rehab is over, in less than four months Ward will be in the biggest fight of his career. It is hard to imagine him coming out on top without being 100%. Last night was supposed to be a showcase, but when your hometown crowd boos at the end, it was anything but that.



 

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