Just over a week ago, Andre Ward returned to the ring after almost a year layoff and took on highly touted Cuban light heavyweight Sullivan Barrera on HBO’s Boxing After Dark. Ward won a clear unanimous decision over Barrera in front of his hometown crowd.
As a fighter, Ward is often criticized as being either a boring fighter , an inactive fighter, someone that doesn’t fight the top fighters and/or a fighter without a fan base. If all that were true then the people of Oakland may not have gotten the message. They stood behind Ward for the fight and even showed up to the weigh-ins to support their hometown fighter which Ward greatly appreciated.
“I was blessed to see the people come out tonight,” Ward said during the post-fight press conference. “They even came out for the weigh-in. It’s interesting because they (boxing fans and media) keep saying we don’t have a fanbase, but I don’t know about that.”
After the fight, Ward did not receive that much criticism from the boxing media . In fact , Ward received quite a bit of praise.
What he needs to do to ease the backlash from the boxing fans is the fight more often and fight better name opponents. Should the fight with Sergey Kovalev happen as planned, and Ward emerges victorious on the night, then much of that backlash will cease to exist from boxing fans. Bigger fights at home may also come as a result as well. It wouldn’t do positive things for just Ward, it would do so many positive things for the Bay Area and its fighters.
With the notion that Ward-Kovalev will end up on PPV, I’m sure that the local support of fans and the solid TV rating will help to calm any worries about Ward’s chances of completely flopping at the PPV box-office. The one good thing going for him is the strength of Kovalev as a draw and, unlike most PPV fights/fighters, the weight of the PPV’s success will not rest completely on Ward’s shoulders.