Andre Ward vs Sullivan Barrera & Joseph JoJo Diaz vs Jayson Velez
BY KID HERSH
From the Oracle Arena in Oakland came HBO World Championship Boxing. First up was a big step up fight for Joseph "JoJo" Diaz (19-0, 11KO's) vs Jayson Velez (23-1-1, 16KO's). In the first round Diaz was using his speed to go to the body Velez, who was not getting off until near the end of the round when he landed a righht hand that cut Diaz under his right eye. In the second round Diaz turned it into a fight two minutes into the round when he landed a very powerful left hand that thudded home on Velez's head flush, snapping his head violently. Diaz followed up with more left hands that he loaded up on - unable to miss as he placed them very accurately. He also went to work with an arsenal of different punches that landed such as uppercuts on the inside. Velez hung in there very well though - ever the veteran - as he no doubt felt the shots but never showed any outward effects of being noticeably hurt from them. In the third round Diaz continued throwing the left hand one at a time because he just could not miss with it. This was also true in the fourth round but Velez was then landing straight right hands occasionally on Diaz, such as the one midway through the round that stunned Diaz momentarily. In the fifth round Velez looked like his motor was really warmed up as he looked the fresher of the two fighters - perhaps hitting his second wind, or perhaps warming up. Diaz was breathing heavy but still outworking Velez and landing the more crisp punches. Velez was having himself a good seventh round, with Diaz looking winded, until in the final minute of the round when Diaz landed a right hook to the body that clearly hurt Velez, backing him up and sapping his energy and momentum that he going. The damage Diaz did earlier in the fight was not enough to hold off Velez in the later rounds, who was still getting tagged with shots that Diaz had everything behind, but it was a combination of Diaz not having the punch to take him out combined with Velez having an iron jaw. Diaz closed the show in the tenth round by landing his super accurate power punches and ending the fight with a UD win. It was hard fought but he advanced his career with this win despite not looking "scintillating", to use Max Kellermans favorite word.
Main event time featuring Andre Ward (28-0, 15KO's) vs Sullivan Barrera (17-0, 12KO's). This is Andre Wards debut at the full light heavyweight weight class limit. The first round was pretty slow as Ward controlled the action - starting off the fight exactly how Ward wants to as the ring general. Barrera was slowly following Ward around the ring, not using his size advantage and looking like he wants to box with Ward, which of course will not work. In the second round Barrera got more aggressive and did land a few shots but took far more for his efforts as Ward countered him with plenty of left hooks. The left hook was a punch that Ward could not miss - as evidenced in the very next round when midway through it he landed a left hook with his back on the ropes that was high on Barreras head but put him down on his rear. He got up and was not affected by the punch, with Ward of course backing off and not gunning for the knockout. He is always very calm in those types of scenarios and is only going to put in a minimal amount of effort for the knockout. Barrera came on strong in the very next round as he let his hands go more in the fourth round at the urging of trainer Abel Sanchez. The best shots he landed were left hooks, with one nice one two minutes into the round buckling Wards legs momentarily. Ward took control of the fight back over in the very next round though, using a vast array of single shots to pick apart Barrera, making him leary to unload. The fight rolled out in typical Ward fashion over the coming rounds as Ward used his jab to be the ring general and was just too sharp mentally and physically for Barrera to overcome, with the championship rounds being no exception. He won the shutout decision and in the post fight interview with Max Kellerman gave himself a B- grade for the fight and claimed he was still a little rusty.