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[author image=”https://www.the3pointconversion.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/2015-01-21-12.32.22-1-e1454992109579.jpg” ]Ryan Foley, [/author]
Fight fans have been waiting for the return of Andre Ward for quite some time now and his confidence has never wavered. Following his quick rise to fame in the Super Middleweight Division, Ward was at the top of many pound for pound lists but due to recent inactivity, that notoriety has been on hold until he gets back into the ring and proves again he belongs in that elite topic of conversation. The 2016 Ward has a focused demeanor and has put his promotional problems of the past behind him as he awaits his fight with Sullivan Barrera in his hometown of Oakland, CA on Saturday March 26th. Ward is no stranger to fighting in his hometown of Oakland and the beautiful Oracle Arena as he won his first Super Middleweight Title by technical decision (a head-butt resulting in damage causing the fight to go to the score card; common with a south paw vs traditional fighter) over Mikkel Kessler. Following his win over Kessler in the Super Six World Boxing Classic in the 11th round, Ward took on and defeated consecutively Alan Green, Sakio Bika, Arthur Abraham, Carl Froch, Chad Dawson, and Edwin Rodriguez. The only problem with that win streak, granted Ward has never lost as he is also the last American Gold Medalist in Boxing (2004), is that it started in 2009; much too inactive.
After being stripped of his Super Middleweight belts, Ward is well rested at the age of 32 and has risen in popularity with casual boxing fans since an outstanding cameo in the movie “Creed”, the latest installment of the Rocky franchise. Now with more notoriety and something to prove, Ward looks to move up to the Light-Heavyweight Division and start a new run to the top of the division and back on the pound for pound list beginning with a victory over Sullivan Barrera. Barrera is coming in saying he will “Knock out (KO) ward in the later rounds” as reported by John J. Raspanti of Seconds Out Sports. Should that take place, it would definitely be a huge blow to the career of Ward as it would absolutely give his haters more reasons to justify the anger surrounding his inactivity the past years being in late 2011 following his victory over Carl Froch.
This fight will be interesting for many boxing fans as it will have an impact on the landscape of the sport for at least the rest of 2016 where fans ultimately want to see a championship fight against Sergey Kovalev. Depending on how good Ward looks, it will determine whether he’ll need another build-up fight prior to Kovalev to get used to the division and build more hype for a showdown with Kovalev. Ward has fought Light-Heavyweights already, just not on signed contracts as both Paul Smith and Edwin Rodriguez came into fights against Ward well over weight. Without the question of stamina and chin, the remaining quandary is whether or not Ward will possess KO power within the division. His style of fighting may change to a more defensive style as he will not be able to stay in the pocket against an elite power-punching boxer such as Kovalev; remember he did kill a man in the ring (RIP Roman Simakov).
With the stage set and fans eagerly awaiting the return of the American star, Ward has the chance to resurrect his career and continue to rise with fame and fortune as he still hopes to captivate audiences across the world and become an International Pay-Per-View star. The last standing American gold medalist in boxing is ready to put his past behind him and opponents back on the canvas. Look for an aggressive yet calculated Ward this Saturday night against Sullivan Barrera as he looks to entertain a hyphy Bay Area crowd that would love to see great championship boxing at Oracle Arena for years to come. Make Saturday night a return to greatness Andre Ward, and prove to fans why they supported you over the years and believe you are still the next great American champion.