Saturday night, HBO sees a consensus top 10 pound for pound fighter in action as Andre Ward (29-0; 15 KO) faces Alexander Brand (25-1; 19 KO) in a 12 round Light Heavyweight (175 lb.) fight. Ring Magazine has Ward ranked at #5 in the division, #4 pound for pound; Brand is unranked. HBO World Championship Boxing Ward vs. Brand airs this Saturday, August 6 on HBO with a fight time of 10:30 p.m. ET.
The past few weeks have seen some great, evenly booked fights in boxing - Santa Cruz vs. Frampton, Crawford vs. Postol, Thurman vs. Porter... This fight is not that. Instead what we have here is a showcase fight for Andre Ward as he gets ready to take on Sergey Kovalev on HBO PPV this November. Essentially, this is Hulk Hogan vs. Dino Bravo on Saturday Night's Main Event before Hogan goes on to WrestleMania. That's not inherently a bad thing - it's just important to recognize it for what it is.
How do these two stack up?
Ward: 32 years old | 6'0" | 71" reach | orthodox stance
Brand: 39 years old | 5'10" | 71" reach | orthodox stance
What have these two done recently?
Ward: W - Sullivan Barrera (UD) | W - Paul Smith (KO) | W - Edwin Rodriguez (UD)
Brand: W - Medzhid Bektemirov (SD) | W - Bernard Donfack (UD) | W - Rey Recio (KO)
How did these two get here?
Andre Ward is undeniably one of the best technicians in the sport today - maybe the very best. The 2004 Olympic Gold medalist has been absolutely flawless in his career. He dominated Showtime's Super Six tournament, looked incredible against Chad Dawson, and then saw his career come to a dead stop. The Dawson fight was nearly 4 years ago - Ward has fought just 3 times since. But he doesn't seem to have lost a step, either in the time off or the move up to Light Heavyweight. If he stays consistently fighting, he's primed to be the sport's #1 pound for pound king, and soon.
Alexander Brand is a Colombian fighter with very little pedigree worth mentioning. Probably his biggest claim is taking Badou Jack to a split decision in 2012. He has not fought total cans, but not a great level of opponent either - of his last 3 opponents, one was 22-11, one was 6-1. Brand was originally scheduled to face Ward last year on the Canelo vs. Cotto undercard, but the fight was postponed due to a Ward injury.
What can fans expect?
No other way to say it - this is a Ward domination. He's the far superior fighter in every sense, and I see nothing in Brand's game that causes the cerebral Ward any trouble. The question here is what does Ward hope to get out of this fight? Does he want more rounds where he can fine tune his technique, or does he want to make a statement? Knowing Ward, it's more likely the former. Prediction: Ward, UD
Why should you care?
Just like Kovalev himself (almost certain to be ringside), you're only watching this to scout Ward in advance of the real fight.