Saturday night, March 26th, saw Andre Ward take on Sullivan Barrera at the Oracle Arena in a fight that kicked off his three fight deal with HBO. Ward, fighting in his hometown of Oakland, was making his debut as a Light Heavyweight as he faced the dangerous Barrera.
Before the fight, Barrera was reported to have rehydrated to 188 lbs.
The match-up started slow as both men engaged in a feeling out process. Barrera seemed overly cautious, and Ward was able to be precise with his punches, landing his left effectively. At the midway mark of round three, Ward landed a sneaky left hook on top of Barrera´s head that sent Barrera to the canvas. Barrera survived until the end of the round and the pace of the fight slowed in round four.
Barrera is known for his punch output, but Ward's defense and ability to employ his jab to manage the distance forced Barrera to throw a lot less punches. Barrera was swinging for the fences and missing with a lot of punches. Ward was showing his near flawless technique throughout the fight, with Barrera looking like he was getting discouraged.
The eighth round saw Ward drop Barrera, but it was the result of a low blow that led the referee to deduct a point from Ward's score. Through nine rounds, Ward, the more efficient fighter, was landing more than 40 percent of his punches while Barrera was landing only 20 percent.
In the tenth, Ward received a small cut on his head from a clash of heads. By the eleventh, Ward seemed firmly ahead, having thoroughly outboxed Barrera. Barrera had to come in looking for the stoppage in the final round. Unfortunately for him, round twelve was much like the previous eleven as Ward displayed a lot of the technique and precision that make him one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world. Barrera landed fewer than twenty percent of his punches thrown.
In the end, the judges had the fight for Ward unanimously by scores of 117-109, 119-109 and 117-108.
The co-feature fight of the HBO broadcast saw Joseph “Jojo” Diaz (19-0) defending his NABF Featherweight title against Puerto Rico's once beaten Jayson Velez (23-1-1). For Diaz, the 2012 Olympian who is promoted by Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, this was considered to be a step-up fight. Velez, despite a 1-1-1 mark in his last three fights was once a highly regarded prospect under Miguel Cotto's promotional flag and at twenty eight years old, he figured to pose a serious challenge.
The two men came out cautious in round one, with Velez perhaps being the busier fighter. In round two the exchanges became more heated and Diaz was able to land big shots on Velez. By the end of round three Diaz was landing a lot of power shots and Velez abandoned his jab. The middle rounds of the fight saw Diaz maintaining control with big punches and body work. Velez absorbed a lot of shots as he consistently finished second in the exchanges. In the end, Diaz showed his class throughout the fight on his way to a unanimous decision.
The live event was attended by reigning National Basketball Association MVP Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. The event was also attended by light Heavyweight IBF Champion Sergey Kovalev, who is scheduled to face Ward later this year.
Additional results for the eight fight card at the Oracle Arena appear below.
March 26th, 2016 – Oracle Arena
Light Heavy 12 Rds: Andre Ward over Sullivan Barrera by UD (117-109,119-109,117-108)
Featherweight 10 Rounds: Joseph Diaz over Jayson Velez via unanimous decision.
Super Light 10 Rounds: Maurice Hooker over Wilfrido Buelvas by TKO @2:27 of RD 1.
Featherweight 8 Rounds: Daniel Franco over German Meraz via TKO in RD 8.
Super Middle 6 Rounds: Aaron Coley over Urmat Ryskeldiev via UD (60-54,58-56,58-56)
Heavyweight 4 Rounds: Zhilei Zhang over Tyree Ortiz via KO @2:44 of RD 3.