By Tom Donelson (BWAA)
Author, Member of Boxing Writers Association of America
After his defeat of Chad Dawson four years ago, Andre Ward was one of the top pound for pound fighters but after only two fights over the previous four years; Ward is now moving toward a match against the best light heavyweight in the world; Sergey Kovalev. Ward faced a number one contender, Sullivan Barrera, and won an easy decision but the fight left more question than answers.
Ward inactivity showed itself as Ward did not look like the old fast quick self of four years ago. Ward was the quicker of the two fighters against Barrera but to the naked eye, it looked like Ward was millimeter slower than he was against Dawson. The old boxing skills was in place and Ward looked healed from shoulder surgery as he nailed Barrera with both right hands and left hooks with ease. Barrera connected on less than 20% of his punches and while he went down from a left hook, he was back up quickly.
Barrera was never in trouble but while he provided Ward a competitive bout; he was not in Ward’s class but Kovalev is a different fighter whose power can hurt Ward and Kovalev has enough boxing skills that he won’t be easy to hit.
Going into the Showtime Super Middleweight tournament seven years ago, Ward was a decided underdog but over the next three years he defeated some of the best of Super Middleweights including Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Allen Green, Sakio Baku and Carl Froch before he stopped the then undefeated Chad Dawson.
Throughout the bout, Ward hands and feet speed allowed him to escape any heavy punishment against Barrera but Kovalev will be another story. Right now, Ward is looking for one more fight before the super bout against Kovalev and the next bout will tell us whether Ward is the one to put a zero on Kovalev record or it will be Ward who will have his first loss.
Kovalev has been cleaning out the light heavyweight division with the exception of Adonis Stevenson, so we have the potential of some great bouts in front of us with Kovalev facing Ward and eventually the winner facing Stevenson to unify the entire light heavyweight.
As for Ward, did we see the end flame of a meteor passing us or does Ward have the ability to gain the form that made him the best Super Middleweight three years ago?