Former Super-middleweight world champion Andre Ward secured an emphatic ninth round technical knockout of Britain’s Paul Smith Jr on Saturday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland California.
This was Andre Ward’s comeback fight following a nineteen month layoff from boxing, but he showed no signs of ring rust as he dominated his opponent, with clever punching and his ability to move in and out of range with ease.
This was the biggest fight of Paul Smith’s career but he received criticism for coming in four pounds above the agreed weight limit for the fight. It only contributed negatively to the already impossible task of beating one of the sports modern greats.
The fight began at a slow pace dictated by Andre Ward who in comparison made the weight easily and looked in fantastic condition. It was a testament to the fact that Ward practically lives in a boxing gym. The opening round saw Ward pepper Smith with jabs that only reddened the Briton’s mid-section.
Round by round Ward began to move up the gears while Smith protected himself behind a high guard. Perhaps Smith’s team hoped Ward would lack stamina following a lengthy break from boxing, and planned a late surge but this was not the case. A flurry of solid punches in the third put Smith on the back foot, and the rhythm was established for the fight. Smith was too sluggish and defensively minded to test Ward effectively.
Smith’s best work came in the seventh round when he appeared to have rocked Ward with a solid right but the former champion steadied himself and was unfazed. In the eighth Ward opened a cut above the eye of Smith and by the ninth his corner had thrown in the towel as Ward had reduced his opponents face to a battered and bloody mess.
With this win Ward will look to re-establish himself as a top pay-per view attraction. There will be a number of options available to him, already Gennady Golovkin has made it clear on social media that he would like to fight Ward. However because this fight was made above the Super-Middleweight limit, and the fact that as an amateur Ward fought as a Light-Heavyweight the feeling is that he could be setting his sights on Sergey Kovalev, which would be a genuine super fight in the making.
The other high profile fight on Saturday featured two former world champions; Adrien Broner and Shawn Porter in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas.
In what should have been an interesting clash of styles turned into something of a stink-fest. The braggadocious Broner danced to the ring bestowed in his flashy skirt style boxing shorts and tassled robe and then proceeded to dance for the entire twelve rounds of the fight. Porter won the first four rounds with his aggression moving forward throwing punches while Broner was content to clinch and spoil, offering little in return.
In the fifth Broner replied with some effective counter punches, but only because it appeared Porter had taken the round off. Porter remained dominate throughout landing hooks to the body, pushing Broner back and generally outworking him.
The most significant attack Broner mounted all night was to land a left hook in the final round which dropped Porter onto the seat of his pants. It was Broner’s opportunity to win by knockout but he did not follow it up and Porter won a unanimous decision.
It was an odd performance from Broner and it was felt by the commentators of the fight that he hadn’t recovered from the defeat to Marcos Maidana. In the post-fight interview Broner, the self-styled heir to Floyd Mayweather’s throne said, “I’m OK, my kid’s are OK. I’m financially OK. It’s OK.” Those sorts of comments or indeed his performance will not endear him to fight fans. The fight was made at the catchweight of 144lbs, Porter still appeared to be the bigger and stronger looking fighter, and it’s likely that in the opening exchanges Broner felt nervous about taking the power shots from his opponent. After that he seemed content to clinch and run for the entire fight, afraid of the embarrassment of a stoppage loss.
This fight will have significantly damaged the reputation of Adrien Broner. He is not even close to being considered in the same breath as Floyd Mayweather Jr. but he has been a talent in the lightweight division. If he wants to redeem his character then his future is perhaps best made in the lower divisions.
Briefly in other news, Canada’s hard punching middleweight; Daniel Lemieux knocked down Frenchman Hassan N’Dam four times en route to a unanimous points victory. With that win Lemieux claims the IBF Middleweight title stripped from Jermain Taylor, and it also potentially puts him in the frame for a unification showdown with Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin. Lemieux is certainly a fighter worth keeping an eye on.