Heading into yet another fight versus an unbeaten opponent didn’t come at all as a surprise to DeAndre Ware.
Sticking around at super middleweight was another story, as the original plan was to physically downsize in order to upgrade his career. Still, the opportunity presented to him was too tempting to not accept.
One more fight in the 168-pound division instead serves as the current job status for Toledo’s Ware. The assignment comes versus aspiring contender Steven Nelson (16-0, 13KOs) in a scheduled 10-round clash at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas (Saturday, ESPN+, 10:00 p.m. ET main card).
“I’m actually on course to go to middleweight, but this was a fight we’ve wanted for a while and it became available at the right time,” Ware (13-2-2, 8KOs) told BoxingScene.com. “Moving down in weight has been on my mind for a while and even during this COVID (pandemic) that has been going on.
“It was a goal to work down to 160 and really get down to 154. And then this fight with Steven Nelson came up and I took it. I feel like I will be better prepared for what to expect on fight night. I’m not counting on his being unprepared. But the hard work I put in will show.”
Such a move makes sense for the 5’9” Ware, who is often at a height and reach disadvantage in most of his fight and in particular since stepping up in class more than two years ago. The 32-year old—who is managed by David McWater of Split-T Management—has held his own at this level, handing out the first defeat in the careers of Alexei Collado and Ronald Ellis.
The stretch has also produced two losses in his past three starts, beginning in September 2018 with an eight-round decision at the hands of then-unbeaten Cem Kilic—whom Omaha’s Nelson stopped in eight rounds this past January. Ware hasn’t fought since an 8th round stoppage loss to undefeated prospect Vladimir Shishkin last August, having since decided to begin the process to move down in weight while also working full-time as a firefighter for Toledo Fire & Rescue Department.
On paper, it seems to be a dangerous move to step to Nelson under such circumstances. Saturday night will prove if there is a payoff to come of the decision.
“I’m not running away from nobody. I feel like it’s a great fight for me,” notes Ware, who weighed in right at the 168-pound limit. “He has a title (WBO-NABO super middleweight belt), he’s undefeated. He’s with Top Rank. He has a good name behind him with Terence Crawford and those guys. I’m just looking forward to knocking this guy off and putting everyone on notice.
“I don’t feel like Steve Nelson has had to answer the questions I have so far. He hasn’t been tested like I’ve been tested. He doesn’t have the experience that I have.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox