Andre Ward dominates Brand over 12, sets up Sergey Kovalev clash
Former super middleweight champ Andre Ward made easy work of overmatched Alexander Brand on Saturday in his hometown of Oakland, California, shutting out the limited but durable Colombian over the 12-round distance in an HBO-televised bout.
The fight, a gross mismatch that was tolerated by the U.S. cable network (and most fans) because it’s the final tune-up to an anticipated showdown with unified light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev, marked the first time Ward has fought twice in the same year since 2011, the year he won the Super Six World Boxing Classic 168-pound tournament.
Ward’s Super Six performances and his subsequent super middleweight title defense against then-light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson in 2012 elevated the talented 2004 Olympic gold medalist to “Heir Apparent” status within the sport. Most fans and media believed that it was only a matter of time before he assumed Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s role as the best boxer in the world. However, inactivity due to injuries and a protracted promotional legal battle, postponed Ward’s coronation.
However, by outpointing Brand (25-2, 19 KOs) the 32-year-old ring technician set up the fight in which he can regain all of his lost momentum and instantly fulfill his promise. Ward’s HBO Pay-Per-View headliner with Kovalev takes place on Nov. 19, at either the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas or Madison Square Garden, and a victory over the unbeaten Russian boxer-puncher can elevate him to the No. 1 spot on most pound-for-pound lists.
Ward and Kovalev, who was ringside at the Oracle Arena and joined the American during HBO’s post-fight in-the-ring interview, agree that the winner of their fight should be atop the mythical rankings.
“I’m looking forward to it, I’m looking forward to being the light heavyweight champion of the world,” said Ward (29-0, 15 knockouts). “I’ve been doing this for 22 years, if I’m not ready now, I’ll never be.”
Kovalev agreed with his rival.
“I think he is ready and I am ready too,” said THE RING’s No. 1-rated light heavyweight.
Ward, who is rated No. 5 at 175 pounds by THE RING, may have had his November date in mind as he carefully walked down Brand so as not to invite any accidental head clashes or injure his hands on the Colombian’s hard head.
He took his time with Brand, spearing the painfully awkward slugger with a sharp jab during the early rounds before zeroing in with accurate power shots in the middle rounds (lead hooks and rights from an orthodox stance and straight lefts from a southpaw stance, which he occasionally switched to in Rounds 5 and 6). In Round 8, Ward stepped up his aggression and pressure and did his best to hurt Brand down the stretch of the fight but the unheralded underdog was able to last to the final bell.
“I tried to press it, didn’t get it, but it was good to get the rounds,” Ward said.