Ward-Miranda Fight Preview

May 15, 2009

Rising super middleweight contender and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward will face the toughest test of his pro career Saturday night, when he fights dangerous Colombian slugger Edison "Pantera" Miranda at the Oracle Arena in Ward's hometown of Oakland, California.

The highly-anticipated matchup will be watched closely by boxing insiders, many of whom are curious as to whether the 25 year-old Ward (18-0, 12 KOs) can finally make the transition from bright prospect to legitimate title contender.

Ward will certainly be facing a formidable foe in the rugged, yet unrefined Miranda (32-3, 28 KOs). Miranda is a notoriously powerful puncher, having provided fight fans with some of the sport's most ferocious knockouts in recent years.

In addition, the pressure will be on Ward to perform in front of his hometown crowd, as he will be fighting in Oakland for the first time as a professional. And in these last few days leading up to the fight the spotlight has only grown hotter, as this past Tuesday was declared "Andre Ward Day" by Oakland Mayor Ronald Dellums.

However, Ward is no stranger to pressure, having already endured the notoriously dangerous streets of Oakland, as well as the high expectations that come with being the only American boxing gold medalist at the 2004 Olympics.

But perhaps the best indicator of Ward's excellence under pressure is seen with his calm and cool demeanor in the ring. Because of that cerebral approach, Ward is not likely to suddenly develop stage fright during his greatest professional challenge.

So with both training camps completed, and with all of the hype in full swing, let's now take a look at what each man must do to win the fight.

What Ward Must Do

Ward will win the fight if he does what he does best: establish the jab early, box in his intelligent and efficient style, and patiently wait for his opportunities to land the big punch. Against the free-swinging Miranda, those opportunities will be there for the taking.

Simply put, Ward is the vastly superior fighter, with distinct and clear skill advantages in nearly every category, save for punching power. Therefore, he must fight with the mentality and the confidence that he is the better boxer. With such an approach, Ward can just throw the straighter punches and trust that his superior hand speed, mobility, and defense will take control of the fight.

By fighting a smart fight, and staying away from Miranda's wide looping haymakers and interior uppercut bombs, Ward should win quite easily, either by unanimous decision or mid-to-late round stoppage.

What Miranda Must Do

Miranda is a strong, no-nonsense, forward-charging fighter whose style can produce some highlight-worthy knockouts, such as with his prior destruction of David Banks. However, Miranda has a tendency to get careless with both his offense and defense.

In other words, Miranda's main attributes also can be his Achilles heel, as his aggressiveness, ferocity, and willingness to mix it up have proven to be just as dangerous to himself as to his opponents.

Still, Miranda possesses tremendous power and fearlessness in the ring, and will be best served by jumping right on the U.S. Olympian from the opening bell. By overwhelming Ward before he can adapt, Miranda might land a big bomb that could change or end the fight early.

Although his all-out attack style is still quite crude and unrefined, make no mistake, Miranda is a world-class fighter. His only career defeats have come at the hands of world champions Arthur Abraham (twice) and Kelly Pavlik (once), with two of those losses coming by knockout.

So it seems safe to say that with Miranda in the ring, you never know what might happen, but chances are, somebody is going to get knocked out.

For Miranda and his camp, they must hope that Ward does not have a world-class chin to go with his world-class pedigree and boxing skills.

We'll find out the first time "Pantera" is able to land a flush shot.


Miranda predictably comes out swinging for the fences. Ward wisely boxes behind his jab and circles to avoid the Colombian's big left hooks and overhand rights.

Despite being buzzed and dropped early in Round 2, Ward shows the composure and mettle to calmly take the eight count on one knee. Once on his feet, Ward then catches and knocks down the hard-charging Miranda with a big hook of his own.

After tasting the Oaktown native's power, Miranda becomes slightly more subdued, and Ward is able to pick him apart with his straighter, more precise punches, eventually stopping Miranda late in Round 9.

With the win, the Olympian will have finally proven that five years after he ascended the podium in Athens as America's lone gold medalist, he is now ready to seriously challenge for a different kind of hardware, the kind that is affixed around the victor's waist, as opposed to being draped around the neck.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for TheDailySportsHerald.com

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