Oakland, California’s number two rated pound-for-pound prizefighter and reigning WBA and Ring Magazine super middleweight champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (27-0, 14 KO’s) didn’t miss a beat after shoulder surgery and a 14 month layoff, asserting himself in dominant fashion to totally outclass a far less accomplished Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez (24-1, 16 KO’s) of Worcester, Massachusetts.
The final tallies in what amounted to a rout would read 118-106, 117-107, and 116-108. This despite Ward being deducted two points in round 4 during the HBO Championship Boxing event telecast from the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California.
In what looked like a solid match up against the most physically imposing opponent Ward would yet face, Andre would have Rodriguez baffled and off balance at every turn, this in a bout blunted by the fact that instead of a major title fight Rodriguez would fail to make weight..
The following is a round-by-round account from ringside.
Round 1 would see Rodriguez charging across the ring likely drained from the weight reduction process so that he would be best served to get to Ward early. But Andre un-phased would calmly do what he does to tie up early and pick spots to work in. This in an effort to eventually wear on Rodriguez and take him apart. With little in the way of action boo’s would ring out which suddenly turned into cheers upon Ward landing a crisp jab followed up shortly afterwards with left hook. And with that in an mainly uneventful round Andre would bank the first.
Enter round 2 and Ward clutching and grabbing, which has led partly to his dominance as well as to his lack of lack of appeal in regards to a mass audience, is still controlling the action his way. That said he lands another of his crisp jabs while looking to connect with a hard left hook out of the clinches. Rodriguez swings for the fences and comes up empty. A jab again from Ward and right back into a clinch. Hit and not get hit is Andre’s game and working it to perfection he goes up two rounds to none on the scorecards.
In the third frame Ward is already jabbing his way to victory while “La Bomba” swings and misses consistently. Left hook by Ward followed by another jab and left hook in tandem so that S.O.G.’s starting to put them together. More clutching inside followed by Ward breaking out to use the ring a bit in the face of a tremendously puzzled looking Rodriguez. Solid counter jab to close the round and Andre is looking dominant at this early stage.
The fourth stanza see’s Andre clutching whereby out of frustration a fight breaks between the principals with referee Jack Reiss in the middle. As a result two points are taken from each contestant. Rodriguez looks to get aggressive after this incident but runs into a Ward left hook. Edwin is then briefly warned for rabbit punching. Another timely jab from Ward then a lead right and he’s in total command. Body work follows from the champ and again Rodriguez looks baffled. Ward punctuates the round with another left hook followed by a jab .
Round 5 opens with the same chess game that see’s “S.O.G.” holding all the pieces. A right to the body and a left hook to the head from Andre gets the crowd going. “La Bomba” so far instead of a bomb has been a dud eating another jab as I write. A combo from Ward backs the bigger Rodriguez who falling asleep at the wheel eats yet another solid jab.
Round 6 and Andre from the outset puts a fierce combo together followed by a solitary left hook to knock the sweat off Rodriguez. Again Ward lands so that it appears Rodriguez’s will, if there’s any left, is being beginning to break. Andre touching now tries to set something up while “La Bomba” offers nothing in return. A lead right lands followed by a left jab then left hook and unless Andre uncharacteristically runs into something this bout looks well on its way to being over.
Moving forward to round 7 and clutching and grabbing for a time see’s Andre unleash a hard 1-2. Rodriguez fans Ward with a leaping left hook that falls well short. Ward explodes with another shot to cause the sweat to fly with Edwin perhaps finally landing a shot of his own.
Before round 8 trainer Ronnie Shields is adamant in giving instructions to a totally ineffective Rodriguez. The bell rings and no jab from Edwin isn’t helping matters as he walks forward with hands down so that Ward makes him pay. A right followed by a jab connects for Andre. Back to the jab for the champion in a mostly lackluster round. One more jab snaps back the head of Rodriguez followed by a right-left combo in what is a shut out so far.
Round 9 and the Dominican born fighter should have some energy seeing how he hasn’t done much of anything except eat leather. A right downstairs followed by a left hook from Ward. Andre works his jab to sneak in a left hook and again nothing in return from Rodriguez who’s simply outclassed. One more solid jab from you guessed it, Andre Ward.
The tenth frame and Rodriguez is waiting for a mistake from the Oakland based fighter which is not likely to come. Right to the body lands for Ward who see’s the wide punches of Rodriguez coming and easily avoids them. A bit of a firefight erupts with Edwin landing an overhand right only to pump Ward up who stops a dazed Rodriguez dead in his tracks with the hardest left hook he’s yet landed.
Round 11 and each man is searching for opportunities with Rodriguez once again swinging in desperation. This only see’s Andre collectively avoid the blows. In the clinches Edwin works his free hand and misses point blank while Ward delivers to the body. Usually clutching with his left arm Ward has referee Jack Reiss on that side and refrains from such in yet another dominant round.
In the final round both men come together with Ward not giving Rodriguez room to get off. Once again at close quarters Ward creates space to land an jolting shot. Another left hook from Ward and then referee Reiss stops the action the result of “La Bomba’” suffering a cut over his left eye. Presumably from a Ward head butt. Then comes another left hook from Andre followed by clutching. A jab lands twice for Andre in a bout that ends with both men entangled.