Classy Andre Ward Beats Rodriguez Showing No Signs of Ring Rust
By Peter Wells
What can stop Andre Ward? 14 months out of ring seem to have left no lasting effect on the Californian as he boxed his way to a one way victory on the scorecards. Edwin Rodriguez seemed a worthy challenger coming into the contest, having previously never lost, but he was a huge second best on the night. Yet again the magnificent Andre used his opponents’ power against him, while searching at all times for openings to land his weaker yet more effect shots – throwing big punches isn’t very effective when they hit nothing but air.
After weighing in 2lbs above the Super Middleweight limit, Rodriguez sacrificed his chance at claiming the WBA ‘Super’ Super Middleweight title, but Ward relieved the Dominican fighter of the anguish of winning the fight but not taking the title he had worked so hard to get a crack at. In the ring Edwin didn’t look drained, and had visibly rehydrated well, and from the opening well attempted to use that size to his advantage.
This led to a clinch-fest for 4 rounds, but as he always does, Ward outworked Rodriguez inside, further highlighting the fact that Rodriguez must use his attributes on the outside. In the 4th round referee Jack Reiss – known for his no nonsense style – awarded two point deductions for both fighters, after they both continued to fight after he clearly instructed them to break. Following this stern warning both fighters took to the outside for the rest of the fight – a great relief to the spectators.
This is when Ward showed his class, despite a far shorter reach, 5 inches to be exact, he was constantly first to the punch, and his hand speed was too much for Rodriguez to cope with. Rodriguez then fell into the trap of attempting to counter punch Ward as he threw the jab, but this only resulted in Rodriguez widely missing the right hand as Ward’s solid jabs nudged him off balance. While he may lack power, the accuracy is enough to take any fighters balance, and the far bigger Rodriguez was no exception.
The pattern continued for the remainder of the fight, Rodriguez on the rare occasion landed a decent punch but it was Ward piling up the punch count, timing every blow to perfection. In the 11th round Rodriguez was shaken momentarily by Ward, the left hook took Rodriguez’s balance rather than being a hurtful shot.
With the inch perfect win, Ward moves to 27-0(14), and will now be looking for new challenges. The pound-for-pound star seems to have his eyes on a Carl Froch rematch, but he will also be keeping a keen eye on Middleweight Gennady Golovkin. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr may not be deserving of a shot at Ward, but he carries a recognisable name, and being a star on HBO, Chavez looks a likely opponent in the future for Andre. So it may well result in a move up to Light Heavyweight to find a new challenge for Ward. Adonis Stevenson, Jean Pascal and Sergey Kovalev will all provide good tests, while the likelihood he will fight Bernard Hopkins is very unlikely.
As for Rodriguez now 24-1(16) a move to Light Heavyweight would be wise, where again good challenges lie, and he will have a chance at another world title. Beibut Shumenov, who also fights on HBO, would make for an interesting fight. Rodriguez could certainly offer Shumenov the test fans want him to take.
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