On Saturday, August 6, 2016, Andre Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) earned a dominant unanimous-decision victory against Alexander Brand (25-2, 19 KOs) at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
By winning this bout, Ward has safeguarded his November showdown with Sergey Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KOs) which will air live on HBO Pay-Per-View.
There is no longer question any question as to if and when Ward and Kovalev will meet in the ring, as the two are in agreement to meet on November 19, 2016 from Las Vegas, Nevada. This fight is highly anticipated by boxing fans everywhere, as it is said to determine who is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
After Ward’s Saturday night victory, both Kovalev and Ward met inside the ring and did so very cordially as two gentlemen, even shaking hands are exchanging polite greetings. The two were then asked by HBO’s Max Kellerman if they now felt sufficiently tuned up and ready to face their toughest opponent in one another.
“I had to get past this step, he had to get past his step, so I’ll see you in November,” said Ward.
Both Ward and Kovalev have now defeated their scheduled preparation bouts, thus, they can each shift their focus onto how to prepare for what is undoubtedly, for each, the biggest fight of their career.
What makes the anticipation for this fight so high is not only the resume of both fighters, but also the juxtaposition of their fighting styles.
Ward has always had a very calculated fighting style that focuses on his immaculate defensive skill set and calculated counter punching. Ward’s style is the prime example a ‘make them miss, and make them pay’ fighting style.
“I think I am a combination of Roy Jones, Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather. And that may sound arrogant but those are the guys that I really studied… I can fight inside, I can get rough, (and) you know I can be flashy, I can do certain things when I need to,” stated Ward after the fight.
But on August 6, Ward brought out a new weapon from his arsenal of boxing abilities. Ward was able to seamlessly and effectively fight from his typical orthodox stance and also the southpaw stance. This can be extremely dangerous because a given opponent will be forced to prepare to fight an ever-changing style–something Kovalev will now need to prepare himself for.
When Round By Round Boxing asked Ward about this new endeavor in switching between stances, he explained it wasn’t actually his idea.
“My wife man, she’s been getting on me, ‘like why haven’t you been turning southpaw?’ And then Virgil [Hunter] has been pushing me in camp a lot to start doing it. That is something I did a lot more as an amateur and even early in my career. I feel very comfortable from that stance and I have a very strong left hand and it’s something that I got to keep doing because it is very effective,” said Ward.
Also effective against Brand was Ward’s defensive ability. Ward was able to roll and slip away from the powerful punches of Brand for all 12 rounds with an ease and effortlessness in his motion. After making Brand miss with his defense Ward was then able to land his ever calculated counter punches with even more accuracy than normal.
“When you go into a fight like November, this is what I have been groomed for. This is what I have sacrificed for all my life to be able to be that guy in that moment. That’s what I am going to be working towards,” said Ward.
Kovalev has the more aggressive and powerful fight style with a dog-like attack when he smells fear or weakness. Kovalev is a dangerous fighter and Ward is a smart, calculated fighter which makes their upcoming fight all the more exciting to watch.
“This is a career defining fight that is the kind of pressure that I have put on myself. There is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to get that task handled and that takes nothing away from Surgery Kovalev, because he is everything that people say that he is, but this is Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Tommy Hearns all over again where it is 50/50, who is going to rise to the occasion? I plan on going through whatever I got to go through to get where I am trying to get,” stated a confident Ward.