a good sport, Ambassador Alan Lubke, (Interstate Good Will Ambassador
from Southern Minnesota to Northern California) is pictured with Andre
Ward at the HP Pavilion, Thursday evening, August 18, 2005 following
Ward's knockout of Minnesota native Chris Holt.
Photo by Sandra Koch
The following copyrighted story is from the San Francisco Chronicle of Friday, August 19, 2005
A SWEET KNOCKOUT
Andre Ward was a vision in glistening silver as he made his way to the ring for his first professional bout in the Bay Area, a fairly lethargic post-work crowd suddenly energized by his presence.
The Oakland fighter, the only gold medalist from the U.S. boxing team in the 2004 Athens Games, was the main reason for anybody to show up at San Jose's HP Pavilion around 5 p.m. Thursday, a time dictated by television.
It didn't take long for the fans to realize their efforts to rush out of the office had been worthwhile. Ward's performance was as scintillating as his outfit.
Relying on booming left hooks to the head and a debilitating attack to the body, Ward pummeled Chris Holt (12-5) during three rounds before the ring doctor called a halt to the fight, as the promising middleweight improved to 5-0 by scoring his third career knockout.
A jubilant Ward jumped on the corner ropes and acknowledged the crowd when the stoppage was announced, his expression changing from a businesslike look to a broad smile as he pointed to folks he knew.
Fighting close to home had certainly pumped him up.
"It's big for me emotionally and it definitely picks you up physically,'' Ward said of the crowd's reception. "It's kind of bittersweet. It's bitter in the fact that you have to stay focused as people are calling your name. But once you do take care of business ... then here comes the sweetness.''
The one sour note for his promoter, Dan Goossen, might have been the modest turnout, which looked even smaller than the announced 3,107.
Goossen, who wants to develop a reliable Bay Area fan base for Ward, downplayed the attendance figure and said he looked upon it as a start to bigger things.
Goossen added that he would like one of Ward's next four fights to be close to home again, preferably in Oakland. Ward is scheduled to return to the ring Oct. 1 in the undercard of the Roy Jones Jr.-Antonio Tarver bout in Tampa.
"It's all about building, as I told Andre,'' Goossen said. "Just like his pro career. You don't start out with 12-round fights. You can see the fans loved him.''
For good reason. After a rugged first round in which the fighters landed on the canvas a combined three times, Ward asserted himself with damaging lefts in the second round.
The compactly built Holt attempted to fight back but lacked the weaponry, as his short arms left him unable to connect with much frequency.
Holt went down for the first of three times midway through the first round, when Ward pounded him with a left-right combination to the head. A minute later, Holt took another knockdown from a vicious left to the body, and as the round concluded he visited the canvas yet again.
"I gave him what I had and he cracked me right in the stomach. Boy, oh boy,'' said Holt, a Minnesota native who posed for photos with Ward afterward.
In analyzing his nearly flawless performance in front of a national TV audience, Ward was especially pleased his defense was so sharp.
"That's the game,'' he said, "to hit and not get hit.''
Ward makes his jab felt early and twice pushes Holt to the canvas. Ward slips and falls once himself. None is ruled a knockdown.
Chronicle card: Ward 10, Holt 9
Ward connects with two solid left hooks and then a right-left combination before another big hook. Action slows until Ward puts more pressure on late in the round. Holt is game, but misses often.
Chronicle: Ward 10, Holt 9
After Holt gets up from a slip, Ward attacks and Holt fights back, his left eye now puffy. A left-right combination sends Holt to a knee at the 1:35 mark, and he goes down again a minute later. A third knockdown at the round's end after an accumulation of punches.
Chronicle: Ward 10, Holt 6
Perfect so far
How Andre Ward has fared in his five professional fights:
Dec, 18, 2004: defeated Christopher Molina by knockout.
Feb. 10, 2005: six-round decision over Kenny Kost
April 7, 2005: defeated Roy Ashworth on disqualification
June 18, 2005: defeated Ben Aragon by knockout.
Aug. 18, 2005: defeated Chris Holt by TKO.
©2005 San Francisco Chronicle