Photo Credit: The Associated Press
ONTARIO, CA — His WBA super middleweight title wasn’t on the line, but Andre Ward delivered a quality championship performance in outclassing power-puncher Edwin Rodriguez to a wide decision win.
The noticeably bigger Rodriguez came right at Ward in round one, resulting in constant clinching and quick boos from the crowd. Ward kept his right glove high to protect himself from Rodriguez’s looping rights. Rodriguez adjusted by clubbing shots to the body in clinches. However, Ward landed clean with his jabs whenever there was distance.
Starting in the second, Ward’s left hook became the secondary potent weapon behind the left jab. Rodriguez’s punches were hard, but slower and wide, allowing Ward to exchange hooks and land first. The third round saw Ward add body shots and potshot combinations as Rodriguez was too slow to counter effectively.
The fourth became the most intriguing round of the bout and not for the action. The fighters got tangled up and each threw several illegal blows, leading to referee Jack Reiss catching a few glancing shots while trying to separate them. Infuriated, Reese took two points from each fighter and recommended fines for both, sternly telling them he would issue a DQ for the continued roughhousing. Undeterred, Ward went right back to landing left hooks and easily took the stanza 8-7.
Rodriguez had his best round in the fifth with repeated haymaker shots to the body. Ward promptly took over the middle rounds starting in the sixth with nearly 30 clean power shots. Rodriguez’s documented weight issues coming into tonight began to take a toll as Rodriguez backpedaled and Ward hit him at will. Ward lead with jabs, left hooks, straight rights, and hooks to the body with impunity. Ironically, it was likely the additional weight that allowed him to remain upright under Ward’s constant assaults.
The championship rounds lacked drama with it becoming clear Rodriguez had the chin to take Ward’s best, but not the skill nor the strength to pull off a miracle. The power-punching edge was lopsided every round with Rodriguez landing in single digits and Ward scoring 20-plus. Adding insult to injury for Rodriguez was a jagged, bleeding cut over his left eye in the 12th due to an accidental head butt.
The scorecards were unanimous for Ward: 118-106, 117-107 and 116-108. In his post-fight interview, Ward remained critical of Rodriguez missing weight and dismissive of his in-ring performance.
“I don’t think he came to win. I think he came to make it ugly and try to land something big,” said Ward. “I was in here with a bigger man. It is what it is. I used everything he said as motivation… Jack [Reiss] set us straight right away. Boxing is rough enough without having to put up with illegal blows. Jack did a tremendous job keeping us where we need to be.”
“I don’t do good calling out names. I want to be the guy who answers when my name is called…I’m coming back strong.”