Andre Ward vs Alexander Brand
BY KID HERSH
HBO World Championship Boxing from The Oracle Arena in Oakland brought us Andre Wards "tuneup" fight against Columbian Alexander Brand. Ward is a heavy favorite - as heavy as one can get at 100/1 odds despite Brand being a bit of a spoiler in the past.
Ward came in at 29-0, 15KO's while Alexander Brand sports a 25-1, 19KO's record. In the first round Ward was pressuring Brand and picking him apart with sharp shooting. Brand was circling the ring, looking awkward but not throwing any punches. In the second round it was more of the same and then we saw in the third round we saw Brand landing some counters in return sporadically. Still, the action was controlled by Ward who was clearly the ring general. In the fourth round Ward started to land harder shots as he got an up jab going and landed some powerful hooks and the right hand. He also landed some good body shots in the third and fourth rounds. In the fifth round Ward landed more hooks that the crowd cheered heavily as they whipped the sweat off of Brands head. Then Andre did something that we have not really seen any time recently, that I can remember off hand, as he turned to southpaw in the final minute of the fifth round and landed straight left hands. Ward continued picking his man apart with the left hand being the main weapon of choice whether it was a straight from the southpaw stance or a hook off orthodox. Brand couldn't get anything going. In fact, I would even say that his standard "awkward" style was not anything like it usually is - he is not bending at the knees as much as usual and swinging from all angles. Almost like he is tightening up to try and hit Ward. In the ninth round he went down from a wild swing and miss so that could be the further proof of his style just plain not working tonight. To end the tenth round Ward landed a right hand that BRand did not see coming and it sent him reeling back into the ropes. I saw this as a knockdown but in any case it matters not because Ward is so far ahead at this point a point does nothing for the scorecard and Brand wasn't really hurt by the shot more than off balance. In the championship rounds it was more of the same, with the fight in a real pattern at this point of Ward pressing forward and picking Brand apart but not being able to hurt him. The cards would come in at an obvious shutout for Ward. Sergey Kovalev was on hand for the post fight interview, where both Ward and Kovalev showed massive respect to one another.