Paul Smith vs. Andre Ward

BY LEWIS CALVERT
@lewycalvert
21.6.15
Smith (35-6) vs Ward (28-0)

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Paul Smith over weight and over matched by Andre Ward.

In the wake of his ninth round defeat to the 2004 Olympic Gold medalist, the Scouser has come under criticism for failing to make weight twice and the game plan he used against Ward.

Smith will be the first to admit not making weight is unprofessional and will face the consequences of his actions through both fines and a backlash from the fans but to criticise his tactics is unwarranted.

“Paul Smith is not world class, he is a domestic level fighter” shout his critics from behind their computer screens, more because they dislike his Sky Sports analysis than his talent, or lack of, in the ring.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE

Andre Ward is not just world class, he is a class above everyone in his usual weight  including world champions; Degale, Jack and Abraham, who Smith arguable beat in their first bout.

Even the most respected British fighter at the moment Carl Froch can’t compete with Ward. The Cobra was completely outclassed by Ward back in 2011 and hasn’t looked like seriously wanting a rematch with him since. And with good reason.

Ward’s talent is comparable only to the likes of Floyd Mayweather. Yet Smith seems to be discredited due to a few losses, despite having the balls to step into the ring with a one of the top pound for pound fighters in the world and hold his own.

Paul Smith is not stupid. He knew full well he was on a hiding to nothing but on father’s day of all days you must look at the decision to secure his children’s future with a good money fight, as one he had to take.

Ward is far too slick to be beaten on points by the likes of Smith who is far too slow. Smith’s game-plan was to use a high guard to protect himself for as long as possible and look for some power shots in the second half of the fight. Unfortunately, like 27 men before him, Ward was just too good.

The first six rounds were easy for the WBA super-middleweight champion, he got a lot of jabs and combinations off, some breaking Smith’s defensive guard but a lot of shots being soaked up on the gloves.

There was a little scare in the seventh for Ward, almost being rocked by a decent shot from Smith, who showed the first sign of his game-plan coming to fruition but the American was quick to tie up the situation and ended the round with a flurry of punches.

THE FIGHT OPENS UP AND SO DOES SMITH

As the eighth round wore on, the early work from the busier boxer began to show and cuts around Smith’s left eye began pouring into his beard.

The golden gloves of Ward were now teasing Smith and as the fight opened up in the ninth he was picking off the slugger with consummate ease. It was then Smith’s trainer had seen enough and called the fight to a halt.

Lest we forget, Smith didn’t get knocked out, he clearly had the heart to fight on until the twelfth round but as everyone watching knew, it would have been frivolous. Joe Gallagher done the sensible thing by throwing in the towel to save his fighter from more needless punishment.

Smith was soundly beaten and now both fighters will now go in opposite directions.

Ward may look for big money fights at Light Heavyweight with Hopkins and Pascal before moving on to world title bouts with Sergey Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson.

Meanwhile, Smith has a mandatory fight for the British title with fellow Scouser Rocky Fielding in the pipeline if he doesn’t retire. A loss there may lead to Smith becoming a gatekeeper for the division or hanging up his gloves entirely as we brace ourselves for the future of boxing with his his brothers Callum, Liam and Stephen.

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