It's time to start beating the drums for Ward-Kovalev
By Hector Franco
Last Saturday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, Andre Ward (29-0) made his return to HBO and faced light heavyweight contender Sullivan Barrera (17-1). Ward won a dominating unanimous decision with scores of 117-109, 119-109 and 117-108.
The first two rounds of the bout were relatively slow rounds. Both men were attempting to establish their rhythm and find their distance. It wasn’t until the third round that things picked up. Barrera backed Ward up against the ropes and paid for it with a left hook behind the ear that sent him to the canvass. Barrera got right back up, but it was clear that Barrera wasn’t the only puncher in the ring on this night.
Throughout the entire fight, Ward was brilliant in spots. He was able to constantly adjust his range to keep Barrera from landing clean punches consistently. The left jab and left hook were the most consistent punches landed for Ward. He kept Barrera apprehensive. Ward kept Barrera second-guessing from throwing punches because the counter punches coming back were hard and accurate.
In the eighth round, Ward landed a low blow and an overhand right that knocked Barrera down. Ward was deducted a point by the referee. This point deduction was a non-factor in the overall scope of the bout, as Ward continued to dominate Barrera. Ward, who is from the Bay Area, was on point defensively for all 12 rounds, avoiding punches from all distances and ranges. Ward was not perfect on this night, but he certainly improved from his performance against Paul Smith.
Ward as always was his own worst critic. When assessing his own performance against Barrera, Ward wasn’t afraid to be honest about how the ring rust may have affected his performance.
“Probably a B-minus,” Ward said in the post fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman when asked to assess his performance.
Now that the Barrera bout is behind Ward, it’s time to look to a showdown with light heavyweight kingpin, Sergey Kovalev. Ward may likely take another bout before facing Kovalev, but if he can put on a performance equal to or better than the one he put up against Barrera, fans can start beating the drums for Ward-Kovalev.
“You know me Max. You know my track record,” Ward said regarding a potential matchup with Kovalev.