By Marc Livitz: Andre Ward’s performance fell somewhere between expected and masterful on Saturday night in front of a hometown crowd at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. His twelve round, complete shutout win over Alexander Brand left no surprises. Perhaps most importantly, the win over Brand officially put into place a signed, sealed and soon to be delivered light heavyweight mega fight between he and lineal champion Sergey "Krusher" Kovalev on November 19.
Ward (30-0, 15 KO’s) controlled the pace from the opening bell and displayed a clear advantage in speed as well as timing. His opponent from Bogota, Colombia appeared out of sorts and threw a handful of off balance, unorthodox shots. Andre’s left hook scored some points in the second as did his jab, which caught "Cachaco" Brand (25-2, 19 KO’s) across the face just before the end of the period. Alexander did show a bit of ring savvy towards the end of round three. As Ward landed body shots, he knew just the right way to lean into his undefeated foe from Oakland and effectively tie him up in order to buy time.
He caught Andre with a flush left hook early in the fourth, yet his punches held little to no visible power. Toward round’s end, "S.O.G." Ward returned the favor, only his hook clearly moved the 39 year old Brand back just a bit. The fifth saw Andre Ward take the fight to his South American adversary. The fact that Brand continued to set his shoulders almost entirely square in front of Ward meant he’d find himself on the receiving end of hard jabs and hooks. A hard right to the body was followed by a quick left hook to the chin. Andre looked to slow him down with drill-like punches to the chest, an old trick very becoming of a one time Olympic gold medalist (2004). The pattern continued through the sixth. Brand was clearly being outclassed.
As the seventh was underway, Alexander Brand had developed a cut over his right eye. Ward appeared content through the first half of the contest to score points via single shots as opposed to combinations. He caught Brand again and yet again with his right hand, usually in a countering fashion throughout round eight. Whether or not he may have been going for a knockout was anyone’s guess. Sergey Kovalev was sitting ringside as Ward continued to dominate the contest through nine full rounds. Brand appeared exhausted as was exhibited by his fall to the canvas after wildly missing on a left hook.
The combinations finally surfaced in the tenth. Left jabs and straight rights found their target just before Ward switched to southpaw for the second or third time in the contest. If anything, Alexander Brand was showing a knack for taking everything Andre could throw at him. The popping right hook to the face he absorbed from the former super middleweight champion from Oakland delighted the fans in attendance. The twelfth and final round would be no different. There will be those, likely many who will insist that Andre Ward should have knocked out Alexander Brand this evening and that a clear shutout would not suffice.
As expected, the three ringside judges turned in uniform scorecards of 120-108 to award Andre "S.O.G." Ward with a dominant, one sided walkover win. "We knew this guy was going to be hard to knock out. I didn’t get it, but it was good to get the rounds", said the victorious Ward after the bout. Naturally, Sergey Kovalev was standing in the ring during the post fight ring interview. "See you in November", Ward said to Kovalev who replied, "Yes, he’s ready and I’m ready, too". The date is set: Saturday, November 19 for Ward versus Kovalev.
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August 6, 2016