Feast or Famine: Ward vs. Smith

By Robert Ecksel on June 16, 2015
Feast or Famine: Ward vs. Smith
If Abraham can decision Smith, not once but twice in three months, so can Andre Ward.

“I’m more than prepared for anything Paul Smith brings to the table. He’s going to be hit early. He’s going to be hit often…”

Considering the embarrassment of riches to choose from Saturday night, the least rich and most embarrassing looks like the fight at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, between WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward (27-0, 14 KOs) and little feared Paul Smith (35-5, 20 KOs), from Liverpool, Merseyside, United Kingdom.

The return of Andrew Ward should be trumpeted as an event. But after a year and half hiatus—his last fight was in November 2013 against Edwin Rodriguez—the WBA champ, who was stripped by the WBC due to inactivity,  has elected to fight a non-title fight at a 172-pound catchweight against a man few have heard of and even fewer give a chance of winning.

Fighting in front of a hometown crowd has become something of an Andre Ward specialty. No fighter wants to walk through a crowd of jeering idiots, especially someone as dignified as Ward. He has fought elsewhere on occasion and there may be no place like home, but he may be overdoing it, he may have overdone it, as it has hurt his reputation and limited his appeal.

Maybe Ward’s inaugural fight for Roc Nation Sports in the inaugural fight on BET is neither the time nor place to reinvent the wheel, which is not to say the wheel doesn’t need reinventing, or at the very least some recalibrating, to remind people who he is and what he is about.

None of which is to say Andre Ward isn’t a great fighter. Any fighter consistently ranked in the top 10 pound-for-pound is a great fighter. Anyone who has defeated Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Sakio Bika, and Arthur Abraham is a great fighter. And despite his S.O.G. (Son of God) ring moniker, Ward is no choirboy. He may not be a knockout artist, but he’s a superb boxer who is not above landing an errant elbow or head when it suits him. But injuries and promotional disputes have rendered Ward all but invisible, save an occasional appearance on HBO in a shirt and tie talking eloquently for an indisposed Roy Jones.

At yesterday’s teleconference call in anticipation of the fight, Ward said what everybody else is thinking, assuming anybody is thinking about this fight.

“I’m more than prepared for anything Paul Smith brings to the table,” said Ward, “and I think this fight isn’t going to go the way he anticipates it. He’s going to be hit early, he’s going to be hit often, and he’s going to realize very quick that ‘Man, this isn’t the guy that we scouted on paper.’”

For those who haven’t been following Paul Smith’s career closely, he’s the former BBBofC British super middleweight champion. More significant, he has lost three of his last seven fights, including at TKO2 to George Groves in 2011, and back-to-back losses to Arthur Abraham in his last two fights, both by decision.

It’s possible that Ward’s inactivity will give Smith at the very least a fighting chance.

“Ward is a brilliant technical boxer,” he said, “but he doesn’t have the power to damage me physically. All the training in the world in the gym is totally different. Andre Ward’s inactivity is what I can capitalize on Saturday night.”

If Abraham can decision Smith, not once but twice in three months, so can Andre Ward.

He may be rusty. But he’s still Andre Ward.

Andre Ward vs. Paul Smith will be televised live Saturday night on BET starting at 10 PM ET/7 PM PT.

Feast or Famine: A User’s Guide
Feast or Famine: Ward vs. Smith

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  1. Steve 04:54pm, 06/20/2015

    Ward, last of the over hyped divas. If he grows a pair he should have to fight Kovalev. But as we know all Divas look for the path of least resistance.

  2. salanashaly 12:59pm, 06/20/2015

    Good news.

  3. Matt Mosley 06:14am, 06/19/2015

    Ward is one of the most talented fighters in the sport.
    Great to see him back.

  4. Matt Mosley 06:12am, 06/19/2015

    Decision him?
    Even a rusty Ward will stop the very average Smith in the second half.
    Probably between rd 6-10.
    Ward is at least 2 levels above Smith.
    Ward being the elite of the division, DeGale, Dirrell, Groves etc being the second tier, the likes of Smith being on level 3, at best.
    DeGale stopped him in 9, Groves in 2!.
    This is a welcome back fight for Ward, nothing more.

  5. Clarence George 07:17am, 06/18/2015

    I can’t say I’ve been exactly pining either.

  6. NYIrish 04:01pm, 06/17/2015

    Never missed him.

  7. nicolas 01:55am, 06/17/2015

    Andre Ward for me is right now something of a disgrace. Here is a man, who is a great boxer, but for his return, decides to fight a journeyman fighter. Ward easily defeated Abraham, a fighter whose talents I began really to question after the Taylor fight, and had predicted back then before that Dirrell would beat him. Paul Smith, though the first fight may have been closer than the judges realized, still lost to Abraham. Ward will not go down in the annals of a comeback fight as Ali against Quarry, Klitschko (the V one) against Peters after nearly four years, Sugar Ray Leonard in his two comeback fights, of course the later against Hagler. Even, ray Mancini against Hector Camacho in losing deserves accolades. We should not also forget, Henry Maske, after his last loss and only loss in the pro’s, coming back for vengeance against Virgil Hill.

    Yet Mr. Ward has decided to take on someone without any apparent risk. It is also ironic that he is taking on a white fighter, on BLACK ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION. Perhaps, though his father I believe was an Irish American, that African Americans who watch that station will be entertained. I guess Mr. Ward fancies himself some Christian prophet, as his SOG would suggest, but for me this mismatch makes one think of the Christians and the lions, of course with Mr. Wards arrogant comments before this fight, I guess you could say the Christian will eat the lion.

    I might of course forgive Mr. Ward somewhat, if he, with this being a catchweight, decides to fight at light heavy weight very shortly.

  8. Clarence George 11:13pm, 06/16/2015

    I remember Nipsey Russell, but who is this Nipsey Hussle?  What impertinence is this?

  9. Sean Ness 01:49pm, 06/16/2015

    I know Paul Smith well and hats off to the guy for taking the fight and earning himself a few bob in the process, however, it’s going to one-way traffic. Paul Smith has been beaten by both George Groves and James Degale and was recently in with Arthur Abraham twice and losing both times. He has heart alright but, unfortunately, his heart is going to be broken by S.O.G. Good article Robert.

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