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The boxing world was thrilled to see the return of Andre Ward this past Saturday in beautiful Oakland, California and he did not disappoint. A calculated Ward gave fans 12 rounds of nearly flawless boxing as he was able to dictate the entire fight while giving a prime example that he will be a recognized force within his new weight-class of the light-heavyweight division. Ward has stated many times that a fight with Sergey Kovalev “is not a matter of if but when.” Following this fight, it might not be the worst idea for Ward to take on a more offensive pressure fighter prior to facing Kovalev. Ward was able to use his superior timing and patience vs. Sullivan Barrera as he could stay in the pocket and deliver precise counters to the slower Barrera.
In the early rounds Ward established that he was no-doubt the A-side attraction to the HBO Boxing fight as local fans and other athletic celebrities showered Ward with cheers for even the slightest connecting jab following an electric knockdown of Barrera in the 3rd round. Ward is a methodical fighter and being teamed up with a very intelligent trainer since childhood Virgil Hunter has been a combination of success measured at historic proportion. Now sitting at 29-0 as a pro, Ward knows nothing but victories within the ring, and after his dominating unanimous decision win over Barrera, opportunities will continue to come in as the probability of a Kovalev match-up is now seemingly imminent.
Taking a more in-depth look at the Ward vs Barrera fight, nothing came off as much of a surprise within pre-fight analysis in the ring itself. Jim Lampley and Max Kellerman of HBO Boxing established from the start of the telecast that this was a tune-up fight for Ward showing very little respect for Barrera. While promoting network fighters Kovalev and Ward throughout the entire fight, it served as a distraction as a side agenda was more than evident. Within the fight, game networks, referees, and even judges will play favorites for future fights and larger pay days. If a scenario of Ward losing came about vs Barrera, HBO would certainly take a hit financial and credibility wise as it would’ve been a shock and disappointment of immense proportions. Protecting fighters to build up to larger pay days is the entire point of boxing being at war within the major networks. The main problem with networks playing promoter is they don’t understand necessarily what will look good, but only sell high. Style makes every fight, not hype of style and the convenient aspects of both fighters being contractually linked to fight on the same network.
The future for Andre Ward certainly looks bright as we can expect an immediate rise to possible pay-per-view (PPV) status as HBO will look to replace Manny Pacquiao as their main PPV star-attraction when he is set to face-off in his final fight vs Tim Bradley on April 9th; a third and final fight that will be remembered as an excellent trilogy within the welterweight division as fans were starved to see Pacquiao vs Mayweather for five years since the original fight discussions began many years ago. Following the fight Saturday of Ward vs Barrera, Sergey Kovalev has since created promotional ideas for him to fight Barrera; a brilliant tactic into mental games as he knows Ward will see him soon. Kovalev being the boogie man of boxing sets to do what Ward couldn’t do against Barrera; knock him out cold. Kovalev may be the most feared man in boxing currently; with a better showing and knock out win over Barrera will certainly create a bit of doubt for Ward, a feeling rarely felt by the undefeated gold medal winning American prize fighter. Stay connected for more Ward/Kovalev fight info as this blockbuster fight could take place later this year.