Ontario, Ca.- Andre Ward (27-0,14KO) is one of those technical boxers that doesn’t always get the respect he deserves. Many boxing experts have called Ward boring, not just based on his fighting style, but by the fact that he has cleaned out his division without any hint of moving up in weight. Ward has been asked several times by the media about moving up to the 175 lbs. division, and Ward simply answers that the is a super middleweight boxer. Like him or not, Ward is a pound for pound champion because he takes care of business. He might not be the most exciting boxer out there, but he is effective and gets the job done. Regardless, as boxing fans, you have to respect and admire that from Ward.
Coming to this fight, many speculated that Ward’s 14 month lay-off, due to his shoulder injury, would show signs of ring rust and might not look sharp in the ring. There was also the issue of weight, being that Edwin Rodriguez (24-1, 16KO) was not able to make weight. Many in the boxing community felt that the weight advantage would in a way benefit Rodriguez, and could be a definitive factor in the fight. But as many of us know, sometimes weight doesn’t prove to be an advantage, and might sometimes work as a disadvantage. Moving forward, Ward’s performance tonight proved that technique and boxing IQ can be more effective than weight as he dominated a tough and game Edwin Rodriguez.
Once both fighter were in the ring and the first round began, Rodriguez tried to play mind games by charging Ward at the sound of the bell. Ward this not seemed faced by this tactic, and quickly took a defensive posture to neutralize Rodriguez’s aggressive game plan. As the fight progressed, it was evident that Rodriguez had came to make this fight ugly, and tried to win the fight by force, versus scoring points and win rounds. Throughout the fight, nothing that Rodriguez brought ever put Ward in a predicament. However, in the 4th round, Rodriguez’s dirty tactics almost through Ward off his game plan. During a clinch both fighters got tangled and Rodriguez slipped Ward in what looked like choke hold or headlock. The referee tried to break the hold but Ward retaliated and ignored the referee’s instruction to stop and break. Both fighters got emotional, began swinging at each other with the ref sandwiched in between bot warriors. For this un-sportsmanship, the referee decided to penalize boy fighters and deducted 2 points from each fighter.
Aside from this moment of confusion, the entire fight ended up being a dominant Ward performance. Nothing that Rodriguez did ever troubled Ward, and everything that Ward did pretty much got the best of Rodriguez. Ward’s body work was on point, leading right had kept landing at will, his left-right combination landed, and Ward’s defensive style made Rodriguez miss and at times took him off balance. At the end of the fight, Ward was awarded a unanimous decision, and rightfully so won the fight.
The question is now, What is next for Ward? Should he move up in weight, or continue to dominate the super middleweight division? Many, and even Ward himself, have stated that a possible fight with Chavez Jr. is a fight that not just intrigues boxing fans but Ward, too. Ward also has an option in another fight with Froach. However, the fight that many want to see is a possible match up with GGG. So when we think about it, Ward as a super middleweight has several doors to choice from. If he decides to move up in weight, names like Stevens, Hopkins are in the mix. But as Ward has stated, fights in the super middleweight division seem more doable and real. With several big names in his current division, there really isn’t a point on why Ward should move up, for now. Maybe once he eliminates Chavez Jr., and Froch, then maybe Ward should consider moving up and seek bigger better fights. But as of now, ward is in a position to pretty much hand pick his future versus catering to what “boxing experts” want.
What do you think? Should Ward move up in weight, or should he still dominate his current division?
Make sure to drop your comments on the bottom, and like always,
Till Next Time,
Rudy “Ruthless” Gutierrez