Ward makes awaited return, Broner and Porter seeking career revival
In what is set to be a weekend of boxing comebacks and hopeful revivals, Andre Ward will collide with Paul Smith Jnr at super middleweight, while Adrien Broner and Shawn Porter will finally end their war of words in the ring in a super lightweight showdown.
Having endured 19 gruelling months away from the ring, talented California-born Ward returns to action in his native homeland, as he contests Liverpool’s Smith, with the American having spent time out because of a genuine lack of worthwhile opponents and a heated conflict with promoters.
Ward’s comeback is a welcomed one, with this high-profile 31-year-old still regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, as he possesses astute technical abilities and rapid skills as good as any other boxer on the planet.
The 2004 Olympic Gold medallist faces Merseyside-man Smith, who will still be seen as a heavy outsider to cause any threat to Ward, but the 32-year-old will believe he is capable of giving the former WBC super-middleweight champion trouble (18/1 with Coral for KO or TKO win).
These two competitors are super middleweights, but this bout is being held at a catchweight of 172 pounds, which is only three pounds shy of the light heavyweight limit, but Liverpool fan Smith is aware of the task ahead of him, having compared Ward to Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
“Not many people like the way he fights and the way to compare him, to the British people and all the British sports fans watching, is that he is like Mourinho,” claimed Smith regarding his next opponent, who is unbeaten in a professional career consisting of 27 bouts (6/4 for decision).
“He wins by whatever means necessary. He doesn’t care what it looks like. He’ll try and nullify everything you do and drag you into a war, as long as he wins.
“That is his attitude and that’s his mentality but credit where credit’s due; he’s an Olympic Gold medallist and he hasn’t lost a fight since the age of 13 and won numerous titles.”
Despite being out of the sport for a long period, a maiden defeat for Ward would still come as a massive shock, and a returning triumph on home soil could see a mouth-watering showdown with Gennady Golovkin finally happen, with the Kazakhstan bruiser still searching for a worthy opponent.
Elsewhere, former three-time title holder Broner is seeking his fourth consecutive victory when he comes up against previous welterweight champion Porter at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas (13/8 by decision).
Broner suffered the first stumbling block of his career in 2013, when he was outgunned by Marcos Maidana, but has since rebounded with three straight wins, albeit against slightly less clinical opposition, claiming he has now grown as a fighter since that loss.
“Now I seen both sides. I seen the side when everything is going good and I seen the side when things go bad,” stated Broner.
“I definitely don’t like the side when things are going bad, so now everything is back on track and we are going to keep it that way.”
‘The Problem’ Broner moulds his style around that of pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, but his unorthodox defensive guard is certainly less effective, and the 25-year-old possesses similar confidence levels as his more esteemed counterpart.
“A lot of people say that they really have the best of both worlds that they can box and punch. But I really can box and punch and a lot of people really haven’t seen everything that Adrien Broner can do yet,” he continued.
“On Saturday you’ll see a side of Adrien Broner you won’t want to miss, so don’t miss the fight.”
Meanwhile, Porter also endured his first setback recently, having lost a majority decision at the hands of Sheffield’s Kell Brook last August, but returned to the ring earlier this year to stop Erick Bone in the fifth round (7/2 KO or TKO).
Both fights are set to take place in Las Vegas during the early hours of Sunday morning, with the action kicking off around 1:30pm on Sky Sports 1.