Andre Ward vs Paul Smith Preview
On Saturday night Paul Smith will enter the ring to take on a fighter that despite his inactivity must be regarded as one of the best pound for pound fighters in the world.
Now Or Never
The fact is that this fight could potentially end the career of Smith, well at least his short lived stint at the elite level. The Liverpool native is coming of a definitive loss in a rematch to Arthur Abraham for the WBO title, after many felt he had been robbed in a close decision back in September of last year.
Definitely Paul Smith rose to the occasion on that night, and proved to a lot of people, including myself, that he had the ability as well as his obvious grit, heart and determination to hang with the top men in the division.
When it was announced that Smith would be taking on the returning king of the Super Middleweight division Andre Ward, the only thing I could think was ‘suicide’.
Granted things didn’t go to well for him in the rematch, but there was enough in his first performance against Abraham to give him confidence that he could remain around the top fifteen rankings and perhaps get another shot at a world title a couple of fights down the line.
That’s what I feel Smith has sacrificed in taking this fight with Ward on Saturday night.
Opportunities to fight the best in the world don’t come along too often, but there’s a time and a place to capitalise on such opportunities. Saturday night is far from one of those times, or place for that matter, given its in Wards back garden of Oakland California.
The ‘Son Of God’ as he’s known will be chomping at the bit to get back in to that ring and prove that he is right up there with the best pound for pound fighters in the world.
In my opinion Smith is the perfect opponent for someone of Wards incredible ability to shake of the ring rust, get the rounds in, secure an impressive victory and be ready to fight again soon.
I honestly can’t see Paul Smith winning a single round in this fight, it’s that big of miss match. Ward will use the first six rounds to ease back into the competitive atmosphere of the ring and arena he must miss dearly, and as we head down the back end of the fight I expect the hometown favourite to put his foot on the gas and give his adoring support something to cheer about.
We have seen the ‘Son of God’ make a lot better fighters than Paul Smith look very ordinary in the past. Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch are two former foes in particular that struggled immensely to deal with the technique and ring savvy of the superior Ward.
But it’s the American’s victory over fellow countryman Chad Dawson that impressed me most, although many felt that the then Light Heavyweight champion Dawson struggled to make the 168lbs Super Middleweight limit.
Paul Smith’s fate on Saturday night might not be too dissimilar to that of Dawson’s, and the best result the Liverpool man can realistically hope for would be to make it to the final bell.
This critical analysis of Smith’s chances shouldn’t be in any way seen as disrespectful to the English man, quite the contrary in fact, as there is a lot to be admired in someone who believes in themselves enough to take on the very best in the world.
There’s no way the Liverpudlian is just turning up to collect the pay check. Smith will come in with what he believes to be a solid game plan to close the distance and not allow the 2004 Olympic gold medallist the space to dictate the pace and rhythm of the fight.
Everything seems to be against Paul, from the hometown advantage to the 174lbs catchweight, but at the end of the day the biggest obstacle he will have to overcome is the sheer class of Ward, and unfortunately for Smith the venue and weight limit is irrelevant when the gulf in class is as vast as it will be on Saturday night.
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