Andre Ward outclassed Alexander Brand in a comprehensive victory in front of his hometown of Oakland, California, on Saturday night to win the WBO Intercontinental light heavyweight title. Judges Steve Morrow, David Sutherland and Michael Tate all scored the fight 120-108. International Business Times also scored the fight 120-108.
It was a clinical performance from the highly disciplined Ward, who was never truly tested by the unorthodox style of the 39-year-old Colombian. Ward routinely used his left hook and a consistent jab to win rounds in convincing fashion.
Though Ward was able to come way with a win after a long layoff, there was perhaps some disappointment that the 32-year-old wasn't able to knock out, or even knock down, a heavy underdog like Brand. According to CompuBox, Ward connected on 38.3 percent of his punches compared to 17.2 percent by Brand.
"We knew this guy was going to be really, really hard to knock out," Ward told HBO reporter Max Kellerman. "He's a veteran. People got to realize that when a guy with his experience doesn't want to get knocked out, it's hard. He's throwing punches from crazy angles. He's got nothing to lose, so I tried to press it. It was good to get the rounds."
While the attention was on the fight, there was also plenty of thoughts on Ward's prestigious next opponent. Champion Sergey Kovalev was watching in the stands at Oracle Arena, and when the cameras were on him he received a chorus of boos.
Ward and Kovalev are scheduled to fight on Nov. 19. in what is expected to be among the most anticipated bouts of 2016. Both Ward and Kovalev are considered among the best pound-for-pound boxers.
Kovalev was in the ring after the fight and responded to questions from Kellerman. The two boxers stood together and discussed the upcoming fight.
"Yes, (Ward) is ready, and I am ready, too," Kovalev said.
Preview: Light heavyweights Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KO) of Oakland, California, and Alexander Brand (25-1, 19 KO) of Bogota, Colombia, meet Saturday at Oracle Arena in Oakland in a nationally televised boxing event on HBO. A victory for Ward, among the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world, will mean a pay-per-view title fight against WBO, WBA, IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev on Nov. 19.
Brand, 39, is seeking a huge upset against Ward, who had not really faced top competition in the super middleweight division. Ward, 32, often looks bored in the ring and he has not fought often due to injury and for a lack of top opponents in his division.
Ward and Kovalev are the two best boxers in the division. Kovalev awaits if Ward can simply take care of business.
HBO coverage begins at 10:30 p.m. ET, but the Ward-Brand bout should begin a little after 10:55 p.m. The judges are Steve Morrow, David Sutherland and Michael Tate. The referee is Jack Riess.
Here is how International Business Times scores the Ward-Brand fight:
In the opening minute, Ward took a body shot but Brand stumbled a bit. Not much to this round, with Ward a little cautious. Ward was slightly more active.
Another rather slow round. Ward was able to land a decent left hook. Brand has been erratic with his punch selection.
Brand continues to go to the body, and actually landed a right hand cross that landed, though Ward shook it off. In the final minute, Ward was able to land a decent body shot. Hard round to call.
Brand showing more aggression, but Ward is still in command of this fight. None of Brand's punches seem to do much damage. Ward was able to an excellent left hook, a decent body shot and a straight right hand.
Ward's punches are starting to do some damage as Brand continues to use an orthodox punching style. Brand has absorbed some solid punches to the body with Ward switching to a southpaw style. Brand still hanging in there, though.
Ward landed an excellent left hook to Brand's chin at about the 1:40 mark. But to Brand's credit, he has stayed in this fight. Ward continues to outsmart Brand and get in some good jabs. It's very clear who is the better boxer.
This continues to be Ward's fight. He had an impressive combo in the opening minute and Brand has a cut over his right eye. Brand is not showing enough but there is no sign that this fight will be called by Riess.
Ward has shown enough caution that he can win by way of decision. But Ward landed a couple of solid power punches that showed he is capable of winning by knock out. Brand doesn't have much balance with his awkward punching style.
Very slow round, though Brand went down near the bell due to a slip. But Ward is making this look easy. He has been effective from start to finish.
Brand got hit by an excellent right hand midway through the round, but he stayed on his feet with his excellent chin. Ward used his southpaw stance to keep the pressure on Brand. The rounded ended with Brand being backed up into the ropes after Ward's powerful left hand.
Ward landed an excellent counter right hand near the 1:25 mark. Ward got in another good shot near the end of the round. Brand is tough for staying this fight, but he will need a knockout punch.
Ward once again controlled the action, though Brand landed some decent shots. Ward was the more active fighter from the opening bell. This fight wasn't close.
IBT Final Scorecard
Ward wins the fight, 120-108
All three judges scored the fight for Ward, 120-108