On Saturday night there is a Super Middleweight fight between undefeated Andre Ward and big-time puncher Edison Miranda. Miranda has only lost to Kelly Pavlik and Arthur Abraham, far and away the two best fighters in the middleweight division. Ward has been brought along slowly and his two biggest wins are against mediocre opposition in Jerson Ravelo and local prospect Henry Buchanan, but he has shown the skills to be a force in this division. The Ward-Miranda will be the classic matchup between skilled boxer-puncher(Ward) and bullying brawler(Miranda). The telling moments will be whether Ward can effectively stand up to Miranda’s aggression and execute his own offensive gameplan.
This fight is a non-title affair but the winner will put himself in the position for a title shot and may already be the best fighter in the division. Currently the Super Middleweight division has four beltholders: British brawler Carl Froch, Dane Mikkel Kessler, Canadian Lucien Bute, and Hungarian Karoly Balszay. None are big names, although Froch had a come from behind win over Jermain Taylor and Kessler gave Joe Calzaghe a tough fight for about 6 rounds. My point is the division is there to be had, and an impressive win by Ward would get him a fight with any one of these beatable champs.
There is another reason for us American boxing fans to support Ward, beyond the fact that it would be nice to have more Americans in the upper divisions. He is a 2004 Olympic gold medalist. I used to really enjoy Olympic boxing, it was one of the events I most watched during the summer games. It is probably a by-product of the 1984 games being the first summer games I watched that included the USA. I was two in 1976 so I didn’t quite catch that one. In 1984 we won nine golds, including wins by Meldrick Taylor, Pernell Whitaker,Mark Breland, and Tyrell Biggs. This doesn’t include a silver for Virgil Hill and a tainted bronze for Evander Holyfield. I want the USA boxing team to reach for those heights again and I think pro success by Ward could be a big help to that. You may not know this but Ward has the only American gold in the last three Olympics, and you have to go all the way back to the recently retired Oscar DeLaHoya in 1992 to find an American gold medalist who has had a good pro career. The drought has gone on long enough.
So Saturday night after you have come down from your Preakness buzz; put on some red,white and blue and cheer on the next “Golden Boy” Andre Ward, in what is hopefully the first of many biggest fights of his career. As for my pick
Ward by unanimous decision 116-111