Andre Ward: Chasing Oscar De La Hoya

BY David A. Avila ON May 15, 2009
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When you win an Olympic gold medal like Andre Ward, expectations the size of California are attached.

So far, after five years, the Oakland fighter’s potential has achieved more Idaho than California.

It’s tough to copy the previous American to capture a gold medal in the Olympics. That fellow was named Oscar De La Hoya and within a year and four months he grabbed his first world title. A mere four months after that he hooked a second world title. The next year he accepted the challenge of fellow IBF lightweight titleholder Rafael Ruelas and took his belt home too.

Chasing De La Hoya is no easy feat.

Ward has all the tools that the East L.A. fighter had and he’s taken the slow steady road to this point. Now it’s time to pay the toll and Edison Miranda stands ready like an angry stepchild that’s been overlooked for the pampered kid.

“He’s not ready for me,” Miranda says.

Undefeated Ward (18-0, 12 KOs) gets to test that theory when he meets Miranda at the Oracle Arena in Oakland on Saturday, May 16. The super middleweight battle is promoted by Goossen-Tutor Promotions and will be televised on Showtime’s Shobox: The New Generation.

Miranda is no pretender. The Colombian strongman erupted on the international boxing scene with a 12 round slugfest against then WBO middleweight titleholder Arthur Abraham in 2006. What most fans saw via YouTube.com was the muscular fighter batter the champion causing a broken jaw and almost taking the title by knockout. But point deductions against Miranda assured Arthur the win after 12 brutal rounds.

“There’s nobody in the super middleweights that can beat Pantera,” the 28-year-old Miranda says.

If you don’t believe it, he’ll remind you.

“I’m the best super middleweight today,” says Miranda (32-3, 28 KOs) in serious tone.

Ward’s journey has been at turtle’s pace compared to De La Hoya, who in his fifth pro fight challenged Jeff Mayweather who had 23 wins and only two losses and two draws. Three fights later he challenged Troy Dorsey who would win the IBO junior lightweight title three fights later. Against De La Hoya he was stopped in one.

Those are tough shoes to fill for Ward.

Ward has a total of 18 pro fights in five years. De La Hoya had captured three world titles in his first 18 bouts and did it in two years and seven months. I guess one Olympic gold medal winner isn’t the same as another.

It’s easy to imagine that De La Hoya was simply tossed into the fire to see if he could cook. Meanwhile Ward is on the slow broiler set at five years.

What happened?

If you look at Sugar Ray Leonard who won the Olympic gold medal in 1976 at Montreal, it took him three years to win a world championship and he did it against a great fighter in Puerto Rico’s Wilfredo “Radar” Benitez in a classic.

Fans were beginning to lose interest in the super quick Ward. Now he steps in against Miranda who is not a world champion, but at least has met the world champion and it is not him. Ward has to use those jet legs and slip into hyper drive if he wants to accomplish one tenth of what the last gold medal winner accomplished.

“He doesn’t have enough experience to beat me,” Miranda says with a scoff. “He can’t beat Pantera.”

Miranda usually wins by knockout but on occasion he has experienced the sound of the final bell. His war with hard-hitting Allan Green went all 10 rounds with both fighters suffering knockdowns.

It’s kill or be killed for Miranda.

“I believe he has the capability to rock Ward, if he catches him,” said Kevin Iole, boxing writer for Yahoo! Sports website and one of the savviest boxing journalists in the world. “Miranda has great power but no defense.”

Fans who prefer action-packed confrontations are never disappointed when Miranda laces the gloves.

“I just want the world to know about Edison Miranda,” said Miranda from his home in Puerto Rico. “My goal is to show the world how good I am and be calm about it.”

Miranda is a character. Quite a character, but if you forget about his power, he’ll remind you.

“Andre Ward is a good fighter but he’s not ready for Pantera,” Edison says with a scoff.

Oakland’s Ward has never faced anyone like Miranda, somebody that can talk tough and back it up.

“We can sit here and talk until we’re blue in the face,” Ward says in almost a whisper. “It doesn’t matter once that bell rings.”

San Bernardino card cancelled

The boxing show featuring Michael “Lil Warrior” Franco scheduled for Saturday, May 16 has been postponed, say the promoters. Tickets already purchased will be honored for the later date.

Las Vegas card canceled

The fight card scheduled for Planet Hollywood on Saturday, May 16 has also been canceled. It was supposed to feature Melinda Cooper and Monica Lovato vying for the vacant IBFA bantamweight title. The whole fight card has been erased.

JM Marquez and Floyd Mayweather in press tour

Juan Manuel Marquez and Floyd Mayweather will be in Los Angeles on Sunday at La Placita in Olvera Street in downtown. The public is welcome for the festivities that begin at noon.

On Monday, the public can catch the act again at the L.A. Public Library located on Flower Street and Fifth Street in mid-town L.A. Again it begins at noon.

On Tuesday the tour travels to the Empire State Building in New York City. It begins at noon.

On Thursday it’s a tour of London for the two future combatants.

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