ANDRE “OAKLAND RAIDER” WARD
What’s up Dougie,
Yeah, I’m a blood thirsty hardcore fan too, but I appreciate Ward more cuz he’s a badass (and I’m from California)! I think Max Kellerman was on point, an Andre Ward-Gennady Golovkin fight is a must! Andre can prove he can bang/box with the best of them. How do you see that fight panning out, Dougie? – Miguel, LBC
I see a very competitive fight between two athletically gifted former amateur stars that possess world-class technique and have mastered contrasting ring styles.
If the fight were to happen next year I would favor Ward by decision but only slightly. Thanks to his extensive amateur career, Govlokin knows how to walk down and time elite boxers with fight-changing power. In my opinion, GGG would give Ward the toughest fight of his career – amateur or pro.
If the fight doesn’t happen until 2015, I might favor Golovkin in this marquee matchup. Why? Because I think GGG will have the busier 2014 (probably another four bouts), and he will continue to improve due to that activity. Ward wants to be busier in 2014 by fighting three times, but my guess is that he will only fight twice due to the tenuous relationship with his promoter.
I am also a blood thirsty ghoul (as pretty much everyone knows), but I also appreciate Ward – at least as much as a BTG can with a pure technician. Even though most of Ward’s fights are shutouts, I enjoy watching him more than Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins and certainly more than Wladimir Klitschko. Why?
Unlike Klitschko, he actually works on the inside when he’s in a clinch or initiating grappling. Unlike Hopkins, there is prime-athlete speed and reflexes backing up his technique and strategy. And unlike Mayweather, he lets his educated hands go. Ward has the talent, skill and ring IQ to pot shot his way to victory every time, but he gives fans more than jabs, lead rights and 1-2 combos. Ward works his left hook, he goes to the body with both hands, he fires uppercuts when in close; he presses his opponents after he’s broke them down.
JACK “THE LAW” REISS
Dougie, how ‘bout that ref?! Now that is the way you take control of an out of control fight! Jack Reiss rescued an event that was heading towards a Golota Meltdown of epic proportions. Let’s rename him “The Law.” I hope he gets a bonus check for his actions because not only was he technically correct, but the fouls bleeping stopped and the sharp punches started to land. We the fans got a fight, one sided yes, but no matter. It was a good scrap, it was entertaining and damnit, Ward wasn’t boring as a result.
Is Ward still lacking in confidence with his right or is he so used to being left-hand dominant that he’ll never pull a Pacquiao and become a two handed fighter? Personally, I feel that as-is he beats every single 168 pounder on the planet (of which he’s already beaten most) and has a hell of a shot at defeating all of the top guys at 175.
As for the calls of Golvkin moving up in weight… Screw that madness. Golovkin has half a dozen great fights waiting for him at 160 and needs to clean out that division and become The Man because he IS The Man. He just hasn’t had the chance to prove it yet. Ward/Golovkin needs to percolate. Let that happen naturally. There is no need to rush it.
And hey, will Adonis Stevenson continue his meteoric rise by knocking Tony Bellew to Queer Street and if so, who’s the most logical mega-opponent?
Rock on. – Matt Stevens
I think Stevenson will beat Bellew. I don’t know if he will knock the British contender out. Bellew is a good-sized light heavyweight with a good chin and he’s a hell of lot smarter than Tavoris Cloud.
Stevenson has a few potential “mega opponents” to choose from in 2014 and 2015. The most logical is the winner of the Jean Pascal-Lucian Bute fight. Beyond that all-Canada showdown there’s fellow KO-punching beltholder Sergey Kovalev (assuming the Russian gets by Ismayl Sillakh), Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Ward. The fights with Junior and S.O.G. obviously won’t happen until those two name-fighters officially move up to the 175-pound division, but the Pascal-Bute winner and Kovalev could happen next year.
Regarding Ward-Golovkin, I agree that 2014 is too soon to make the fight. Not because I don’t think GGG is ready to challenge the super middleweight champ, it’s not yet a “mega-fight.” If Golovkin fights four times in 2014 (which is the plan) and HBO televises all or at least three of those bouts, he’ll have a much bigger name and following to take to the big dance.
I also agree that there are plenty of worthy challenges for Golovkin at 160 pounds and that he’s not yet proven to be “the man” of the division (even though I’d favor him to beat every other world-class middleweight). There’s Martin Murray, IBF beltholder Darren Barker, WBO titleholder Peter Quillin, former beltholders Daniel Geale and Felix Strum, and, of course, RING/WBC champ Sergio Martinez.
I’d love to see every one of those fights. Ward can wait.
Regarding Ward’s right hand, I don’t think he was afraid to use it Saturday, he’s simply used to using the left hand more because of the bad shoulder and he also had a guy in front of him who was open for hooks all night.
I also think he beats every 168 pounder in the world. (Is there anyone who doesn’t think this?) I’m not sure about him being as dominant at 175 pounds. Although I thought he won every round against Rodriguez, I could tell that being in the ring with a fighter that big took a physical toll on him. And I was surprised that he wasn’t able stop, drop or at least rock the outclassed challenger. I’m sure E-Rod has world-class whiskers, but I think his greater size and Ward’s lack of KO power also factored in his ability to go the distance.
So I can’t help but wonder how Ward would deal with a Kovalev or Stevenson. I’d probably favor him to find a way to outpoint the bigger, stronger boxer-punchers but I wouldn’t be shocked if they wore him down (Kovalev) or took him out with one clean shot (Stevenson).
I like how Jack “The Law” Reiss sounds. He definitely laid down the law, Judge Dredd style, in the fourth round. I consider Reiss (along with Pat Russell) to be the best referee in California and among the best anywhere, but I gotta be honest with you, I thought flipped his lid for a few moments there when he was going on and on to the ringside commissioners after deducting two points from each fighter.
I thought he’d crossed the line from firm officiating to grand standing and theatrics. It seemed out of character to me and I thought it was adding to the circus-like atmosphere the fighters had created with their unruly grappling and fouling. However, Dave Bontempo (co-commentator with me on the HBO international broadcast) pointed out that sometimes that’s what is needed to restore order and to prevent a fight from either spiraling out of control or becoming an awful (and unfair) clinch-fest, such as the recent Klitschko-Povetkin fight.
Bontempo was right. The wrestling match ended in the fourth and the boxing match began in earnest in the fifth.
The next time I see my buddy Jack I’m going to bestow an official Mega-City One Street Judge badge upon him.
STRONG HAND FORWARD
Thank you for the nice words, JW.
Other fighters who fought with their strong hand in front (but had a powerful cross punch) that come to mind are converted southpaws Oscar De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto. De La Hoya was criticized for being a bit of a “one-armed bandit” early in his career but he developed his right hand when he was briefly trained by the late great Emanuel Steward and late in his career when he was guided by Floyd Mayweather Sr.
Cotto had a very good right cross despite being left handed.
Ward’s got the best power or “shot-gun” jab that I’ve seen in ages. He really gets his shoulder into it and pushes off with his right foot, giving it the impact of a power punch. It was his most effective punch during the fight and will be a key component in many dominating victories to come, whether he develops his right cross or not.
LA BOMBA WAS BOMBED, GGG IS NEXT
La Bombed Man! That’s all I gotta say! Ward’s the master. Yeah, we didn’t need a prophet to tell us that Ward was going to take Rodriguez to school. But La Bomba is still way better than those chumps Golovkin beats on. And know what. When Ward get’s Golovkin in the ring he’s going to do the same to that clumsy robot. SOG over GGG! Any day! Any time!
When guys like Danny Garcia and Saul Alvarez fight anyone that’s not a top-2 guy then they get ripped by the masses for supposedly being gutless, pampered phonies. When Nonito Donaire needs more than two rounds to get a tough dude like Darch Vader out of there then he’s washed up.
But when the Great Golovkin beats up one gatekeeper after another and even needs 8 rounds to KO a limited guy like Curtis Stevens then all these raving fans can’t stop smooching his bum.
They even go as far to call GGG the next Julio Ceasar Chavez and rank him right up there with Marvin Hagler and Carlos Monzon. WTF dude!?!?
I just don’t get it. Though I guess the all the nerds out there love GGG because he looks like The Joker.
At least in your case Dougie, you’re not going as far as to call GGG The Fighter Of The Year. Guys like the Garcias (Danny and Mikey), Floyd Mayweather and Adonis Stevenson have clearly done way more to earn that title.
And why is Golovkin getting more hype than more fluid and more explosive fighters like Stevenson, Ruslan Provodnikov, Krusher Kovalev, and the two Garcias? Those guys are even destroying much better competition and all of them put together don’t get anywhere near the hype that Mr. Roboto Golovkin is getting. So save the hype for the fighters who earn it. And give more respect to Andre Ward while we’re at it. He’s cleaned up his division while barely losing a single round! I might be a cretin but at least I know what I’m talking about here. And Andre, Good job! – Captain Ron
Not a GGG fan, eh?
That’s OK. He’s got a strong core group of supporters that will likely grow significantly over the next 12-18 months. And at least you’re diehard in your support of Ward, as others are. That tells me that when “Mr. Roboto” has all but cleaned out the 160-pound division as Ward did at 168 pounds, the anticipated showdown between the two titans will ignite and polarize the boxing world.
I’m looking forward to their eventual clash, but I will also enjoy watching them build upon their unbeaten records and respective fan bases (both of which need to grow before either fighter can be considered a “star”) over the next year.
Regarding GGG’s “hype,” I think there’s something fascinating about a so-called “robot” who’s programmed only to “search and destroy” his opponents. I don’t think Golovkin is in the class of Marvin Hagler or Julio Cesar Chavez, but the gradual, methodical and systematic manner in which he breaks his opponents down reminds me of those two hall of famers. I think his technical pressure-fighting style and commitment to the body reminds a lot of fans (those who are over 30) of Chavez Sr.
No, Golovkin is not as heavy handed as Kovalev or explosive as Provo or as fast and powerful as Stevenson, but a lot of fans enjoy watching a blue-collar craftsman have to work to earn his KO or technical stoppage. Rocky Marciano had that appeal. He didn’t have Joe Louis’ power or precision and he didn’t have a fraction of the ring savvy of Jersey Joe Walcott but he was effective in his own way as those two great heavyweight champs because of his conditioning, physical strength, relentless style and will power, and fans appreciated that.
And don’t fret about the Garcias (Danny and Mikey). Both young guns are going to get their due (some would say overdue) respect from fans, media and the boxing world in 2014. And you’re absolutely right – they’ve earned it.
Douglass Edmington Frisee III,
Just watched the Latin American telecast of Ward-Rodriguez, and to say I was underwhelmed would be an understatement. I’m looking at some of the early fight coverage coming in and it’s all high praise to Ward for “outclassing” his foe from beginning to end. Sure, he did that. He also picked his spots, held arms quite a bit, and generally coasted.
One word that seems to sum him up is “contentment.” He’s content to hold, content to pot shot, and content to not press the action when he has his opponent hurt. Do just enough to win while occasionally flashing some brief glimpses of superior athleticism and he’s a happy camper, apparently. I remember being highly impressed with his aggression in a KO victory over Chad Dawson. Now? I could care who he fights next. Hopefully not Golovkin, because I only want to see that guy in all-action fights. Against Ward, I think it might just be a snoozer, regardless who wins.
What do you think? – Chris in Argentina
I think Golovkin has the experience, physical tools and style to force Ward to engage in a “fan-friendly” fight. But that fight isn’t going to happen in the near future.
In the meantime, Ward’s going to have a tough time pleasing all of the fans. S.O.G. is a gift from heaven to boxing purists who love ring generalship, but he gets mixed reviews from hardcore fans. His world-class skill and the “brief glimpses of superior athleticism” that you mentioned is enough to satisfy some, but others want more; they want him to exhibit a killer instinct when he’s dominating an outclassed opponent like a prime Sugar Ray Leonard or Roy Jones Jr. That’s not going to happen (and it’s also one of the reasons that casual fans are largely unaware of Ward).
I wouldn’t describe Ward as “content,” though. I think he does desire to stop his opponents but he’s not a risk taker. He’s never going to try and force a knockout or overdo his offense just to please the fans. He will, however, try to break down every opponent he faces. I don’t think he’s content to merely outpoint his foes like Mayweather, or other pure boxers/technicians like Chris John or Miguel Vazquez are.
Ward gives fans more than just a boxing clinic, which is why I think he’s usually more interesting to watch than Mayweather, John or Vazquez. But if the knockout doesn’t come naturally, he’s not going to do anything to make it happen. And he’s not going to take unnecessary risks against dangerous opponents.
Despite being outclassed, Rodriguez was dangerous because of his size advantage. And although Ward hit him with everything including the kitchen sink, he never separated the New Englander from his senses. He never buckled Rodriguez’s legs. He wasn’t in with Dawson, who had come down in weight and had a questionable chin. He was in with a rugged guy who failed to make weight and had always exhibited a granite jaw. So Ward did as much as he could in every round without making himself too vulnerable.
He was smart. He won, he moves on and now he’ll have other opportunities to win over fans that aren’t impressed with his style or ring mentality. It might take a year or two, but I think he’ll eventually be matched with the right opponents – such as GGG and the light heavyweight standouts – that either bring out his inner fire or force him to take risks.
NETWORKS TOO INVOLVED
What’s up Doug! Had a few really good fights on TV this weekend. I was really impressed with Karl Dargan. I never saw him fight before but he has amazing skills defensively and offensively. I’d love to see him in with Mikey Garcia in the near future. I think his athleticism and defense would give Mike problems. He has very fast hands and fights smarter not harder.
I liked that Garrett Wilson was determined to go for broke against Vycheslav Glaskov. It was an action packed fight in spurts.
Ward vs Rodriquez was a lot like Mayweather vs Canelo to me. A young fighter the networks were determined to showcase despite the fact that the young fighter wasn’t ready. I know E Rod is only a year younger than Ward but to feed him to the 2nd best fighter in the world before he even proved himself worthy was a mistake pushed by HBO. Like Canelo, making weight was a big problem which cost them. Add to that the pressure of facing not only the best in their division but the 2 best in the world was not smart. Arum likes to build up the potential for fights like these prior to making then so there is a legit craving to see the fight happen. Sometimes that works sometimes it fails but financially it’s a winning formula. The problem now is the networks are demanding fights when some guys just aren’t ready or even worthy to be on such a big stage. I like everyone else knew Ward would dominate a game but outclassed Rodriguez, so the desire to see the fight was less appealing.
The same goes for the upcoming Manny Pacquiao vs Brandon Rios fight. We all know what’s gonna happen there. Pac is gonna easily beat Rios. I’m not paying for a fight where I already know the outcome! Sorry for the rant. I’m just saying that the networks are starting to dictate which fights are made and the outcome is just like Saturday night. They need to stay out of it and let the proper parties make the fights that matter. Take care. – DJ
I respectfully disagree, DJ.
I don’t think the networks (HBO or Showtime) forced either the Ward-Rodriguez or the Mayweather-Alvarez fights. I think in both cases the fighters (particularly the two young underdogs) wanted the bouts to happen; and the networks, along with the promoters and managers, worked to deliver what they hoped would be good fights, as well as successful events and business ventures. In the case of Mayweather-Alvarez, the event and business venture was very successful.
And though most fans and media did not consider Alvarez and Rodriguez to be in the class of Mayweather and Ward (who proved the masses correct), that doesn’t mean that they hadn’t earned the right to be in those fights.
Alvarez, who was coming off the best win of his career – a decision over top-rated junior middleweight Austin Trout – was the defending champion in the Mayweather bout. Rodriguez, who was having the best year of his career (by winning the Monte Carlo Million-Dollar Super Four tournament), was a top 10-rated super middleweight contender.
Did both Alvarez and Rodriguez deserve to be underdogs in their last bouts? Hell yeah. But tell me who would be favored – or just even money – against the consensus top two pound-for-pound boxers in the sport? Nobody.
And who else were Mayweather and Ward going to fight? Mayweather is a pay-per-view player and as such he needs a marketable opponent. Devon Alexander or Erislandy Lara were not going to cut it. And Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez aren’t available due to political/business reasons. Canelo was the best available opponent for Mayweather who could also help make a pay-per-view event.
Ward has already beat most of the 168-pound top 10, and the names in an around the division simply weren’t available for him: Kelly Pavlik retired, Chavez Jr. clearly isn’t ready for him, and old foe Carl Froch is tied up with Saturday’s showdown against George Groves. E-Rod was the best U.S.-based super middleweight who was available.
And the bottom line is the bottom line: Rodriguez wasn’t going to make $1 million fighting anyone else but Ward. Canelo wasn’t going to make eight figures fighting anyone else but Mayweather (OK maybe Cotto, but you get my point).
I think the networks were happy to make Mayweather-Alvarez and Ward-Rodriguez but not as much as the fighters were.
Regarding Pacquiao-Rios, I agree that the Filipino Icon should be considered a strong favorite and I think he’ll beat Rios but I don’t think it’s an “easy” or “safe” fight for him. And I don’t think a Pacquiao victory should be considered a foregone conclusion. I know the notion that Pacquiao might not be the same after being KTFO by Juan Manuel Marquez is part of Top Rank’s promotion of the PPV event and it’s part of HBO’s 24/7 storyline, but it’s fair question to ask a veteran fighter who has been fighting since 1995.
Even though most observers thought Pac deserved to win the Tim Bradley fight, it’s clear that he’s been on a gradual decline since the Antonio Margarito fight. Whether it’s physical, mental or a combination of both, I think if Manny is anywhere close to being over the hill, Rios is the kind of fighter who will shove him off the edge.
I thought Glazkov lost to Malik Scott at the start of the year but it’s clear that the 29-year-old Russian can fight. I like the way he handled a very game and cagey late sub and I wouldn’t count him out against Tomasz Adamek if that fight is rescheduled or any lower top-10 or top 15-rated heavyweight.
I agree that Dargan is very talented and skilled, and I also agree that his style would give Mike Garcia fits. However, that fight and any other significant matchup will not happen unless he steps up his level of opposition and gets a ranking. At 28, he’s old for a “prospect.” Saturday’s fight was good for him because he gained much-needed exposure and he went 10 rounds for the first time (prior to beating Michael Brooks, he’d never been past six).
In 2014, he needs roll the dice against the most formidable opponents that are willing to fight him. Dargan needs to make some bold moves, and although he only has 14 pro bouts, I think he’s ready thanks to his amateur background (he was a Pan-Am Games gold medalist in 2007) and gym experience (sparring with the likes of Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley and Canelo Alvarez, among others, over the years).
A showdown with another “mature” prospect, such as Ivan Redkach, or dangerous and seasoned fringe contenders, such as John Molina or Rustam Nugaev, are the kinds of fights that will let hardcore fans know he’s for real (if he wins) and move him up the sanctioning body rankings.
Email Dougie at email@example.com. Follow him Twitter @dougiefischer