Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA, March 26
By Peter Lim
Some fighters are just not affected by ring rust and Andre Ward is one of them, as evidenced in how sharp he was against Paul Smith and Edwin Rodriguez after 19 and 14 months of inactivity respectively.With that potential advantage out the window, Sullivan Barrera's chances of pulling off an upset is reduced to virtually zero.
Typically a slow starter, Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) takes a round or two to figure out Barrera, but once he does, the disparity in experience becomes painfully obvious. Ward effortlessly potshots jabs, right hands and left hooks but patiently takes his time and does not go for the knockout. Barrera (17-0, 12 KOs) aggressively rushes Ward and tries to force a slugfest but no one (except Mayweather) is more adept at smothering assaults and cramping his opponents' style than Ward.
Having exhausted everything in his arsenal to no avail, Barrera is a broken and beaten fighter by the middle rounds and the action becomes increasingly one-sided. With Barrera getting hit with everything including the kitchen sink and unable to return fire, either the referee or his corner jumps in to spare him further punishment in the seventh round.
Ward demonstrated he's as good at 175 as he was at 168. The looming question now is, will that be enough to beat Kovalev?