Complacent boxing sensation Andre Ward and untested Cuban Sullivan Barrera discussed their upcoming bout during a Wednesday interview with the San Jose Mercury News.
The 6-foot Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) has gained some size and is set to debut in the 175-pound light heavyweight division against the 6-foot-2 Barrera (17-0, 12 KOs) on March 26 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Ward, a gold medalist as a light heavyweight at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece, has only fought on three occasions since January 2012.
Ward last exited the squared circle on June 20 after earning a ninth round TKO over Paul Smith. Clashing at a catchweight limit of 172 pounds, the 172-pound Ward punished the 5-foot-11, 176-pound Smith (35-6, 20 KOs) until the flabby Englishman’s corner halted the bloodbath at 1:46 of the decisive frame.
“I get to eat more,” said Ward, 32, who withdrew from meeting Colombian Alexander Brand on November 21 due to inflammation in his right knee.”You definitely feel stronger when you don’t have to strip down so much. I feel a lot stronger and, to be honest, a lot happier.”
Following the mismatch versus Barrera, speculation remains strong that Ward and Russian badass Sergey Kovalev will scrap in the fall.
“Without a victory in this fight there is no Kovalev,” said Ward, a Bay Area native. “Barrera is a solid fighter. Technically sound with a good team. He’s a formidable opponent.”
Although possibly “a formidable opponent,” Barrera has faced a fleet of tomato cans since premiering as a prizefighter in August 2009.
“I think it’s the perfect moment,” said Barrera, 34, who enjoyed a decorated amateur career. “Andre Ward is a great fighter. Considered top 10 pound-for-pound and I think it’s a big opportunity for me to show I’m a great fighter as well and destined for big things.”
A defensive artist who uses elite footwork, a steady jab, and ferocious left hook to dominate, Ward’s absorbed virtually no punishment as a professional and hasn’t been conquered since he was a 12-year-old kid. Ward will easily neutralize Barrera’s average power, minimize his onslaughts, and dicate the contest’s tempo.
Regrettably, beyond Barrera, Ward’s too busy monitoring his 401k and too unfocused on boxing to reach his limitless potential. A truly brilliant talent, Ward’s apathy is maddening and he deserves all blame for wasting his prime and becoming an afterthought.
Still, competing against a somewhat “solid fighter,” Andre Ward will easily outscore Sullivan Barrera over 36 minutes to remain undefeated next weekend.