Home Columns Andre Ward dominates Sullivan Barrera, but is he ready for Sergey Kovalev?

Andre Ward dominates Sullivan Barrera, but is he ready for Sergey Kovalev?

Credit: Will Hart - HBO

HBO Boxing Ward vs. Barrera Results from Oakland:

Andre Ward moved up to the light heavyweight division and fought for the just the second time in the past two and a half years on Saturday night at his hometown Oracle Arena in Oakland. In the headline event of an HBO World Championship Boxing card, Ward took on the previously unbeaten Cuban Sullivan Barrera, and dominated him over the course of a full 12 rounds to win a near shutout decision.

Is Ward vs. Kovalev Next?

What all boxing fans are looking towards next is a potential showdown between Ward, and division champion Sergey Kovalev. It’s a fight both men have expressed interest in, and one which Ward continues referring to as “not a matter of if, but when”. Kovalev was also in attendance ringside to watch the Ward vs. Barrera fight.

So, if it’s a matter of “when”, then should that time be now for Ward? He was in complete control against Barrera, however, that was a fighter who had never been in with anything resembling that level of competition before. While talented, there were clear holes in his game, and Ward was able to capitalize on those from the start.

What we did see though is that Ward was getting hit far more often and easily than he’s used to. And when that came in the form of a full light heavyweight fighter, those shots took a toll. That was clear from the look of Ward’s face by the end of the fight.

Perhaps that was a case of Ward simply shaking off some ring rust after so much inactivity. But he’s also 32 years old, so it wouldn’t be a shock if he lost some of his elusiveness. As the announcing team commented throughout the bout, he seemed a bit more flat-footed than usual.

If Kovalev were able to land the same shots that Barrera was landing, it would be doubtful that Ward would be able to stay on his feet. Kovalev is a better offensive fighter than Barrera, and would, if anything, have an easier time landing his shots against the same version of Ward. That said, it could have simply been the ring rust for Ward, and not a sign of decline.

Or, if we’re truly analyzing this and considering the type of gamesmanship that Ward is capable of, perhaps he was putting on somewhat of an act for Kovalev’s benefit — See how flat-footed I am? See how easy it is to hit me? — in an effort to lure Kovalev into an even grander sense of false confidence during training for their eventual showdown. It’s tough to say at this stage, but you can’t rule that out.

Either way, Ward shouldn’t need another “tune up” and it’d be a tough sell to see both him and Kovalev in there against lesser opposition. So, let’s make this fight happen next.

Joseph Diaz vs. Jayson Velez Results

In earlier action on HBO, Joseph Diaz stepped up in competition to meet contender Jayson Velez. From the start, Diaz used his superior hand speed and skill to dictate the action and lead the pace of the bout. A game Velez never stopped trying, and he was never being badly dominated, however, he was overmatched and lost most every round even while staying competitive.

Diaz also battled through a cut he suffered in the early stages of the fight.

With the win, the unbeaten former USA Olympian should now be viewed as a legit top contender in the crowded scene in and around the featherweight division.