Andre Ward (29-0, 15 KOs) stepped up to light heavyweight tonight and claimed a unanimous decision victory over a previously undefeated Cuban, Sullivan Barrera (17-1, 12 KOs), at the Oracle Arena in California.
Before this contest, Ward had only seen action once in the past two and a half years, when he squared off against Paul Smith Jnr last May but regardless of this inactivity he showed no real signs of ring rust.
Having said that, Ward still did not seem to be fighting to his full ability, yet he was able to dismantle Barrera with his impeccable boxing skills and superior footwork.
In the third round, Ward sent the crowd into a frenzy with a superbly timed left hook counter which sent Barrera to the canvas.
Barrera made it to his feet but Ward controlled the show, and while the Cuban was able to give a fairly decent account of himself, Ward was simply too much for him to handle.
In a post-fight interview, Ward broke down his performance and admitted it wasn’t his best but enough to get the job done. “Probably a B-, because, you know, I told you guys at the fighter meeting, I wouldn’t use the layoff as an excuse at any level, but the reality is, the more you fight, the sharper you get. There’re certain things I want to do that I didn’t do tonight. But it just shows that even not at my best, we can still get it done the way we want to get it done. He was tough and hungry, and so was I.”
When asked about a potential fight with Sergey Kovalev, Ward indicated he is keen to see the fight get made. “You know me. It’s never a problem. You look at my track record; I want to fight the best. I’ve always fought the best. Me and Sergey Kovalev, he’s a great champion, he’s the man at light heavyweight. It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ I just think it’s ‘when.'”