Oakland, CA, USA: Super Middle: Andre Ward (28-0) W TKO 9 Paul Smith (35-6). Super Bantam: Antonio Nieves (12-0-1) W Stephon Young (13-0-2). Middle: Luis Arias (11-0) W TKO 3 Tony Brinson (4-3).
Ward vs. Smith
Ward returns with stoppage of Brit Smith. This one might not have happened after Smith failed to make the contract weight of 172lbs (he weighed 176.4lbs) and then failed to make the adjusted rehydrated weight of 181lbs (he weighed 184.4). Once the fight did start Ward was quickly using his left jab to keep a defensive minded Smith on the back foot. Smith was mainly hiding behind a high guard and looking to score with counters. Smith had been doing a good job of blocking many of Ward’s punches but from the third Ward was throwing more combinations and piercing Smiths guard time and again. Smith was trying to get on the front foot but was leaving openings that Ward exploited. The pattern was the same in the fourth, fifth and sixth with Smith again trying to get on the front foot but with Ward using the jab and straight rights to force Smith back. A clash of heads at the end of the fifth round luckily did not see either fighter cut although both came out with bruises high on their forehead. Ward had been exclusively head hunting and fighting in spurts and Smith’s face was marking up badly with swelling over his right eye. Ward was loading up more on his rights in the seventh and opened a cut over Smiths left eye although Smith did get home with a good clubbing right. The eighth was totally one-sided with Ward almost exclusively using the jab/straight right and getting through Smith’s guard time and again but he added some variety with a head-snapping left uppercut. Ward began to taunt Smith by wind-milling his right before throwing it and Smith hard a few words for Ward at the end of the round. In the ninth Ward was walking in slamming home straight rights. Smith was bravely trying to punch back but with the rights thudding home and Smith looking to have a badly injured nose (fractured) Smith’s corner threw in the towel and the fight was over. First fight for 31-year-old Ward in 19 months and only the second in 33 months. He was much too good for Smith but there is a queue of tougher opposition lining up for a shot at “Son of God”. Smith gave it a shot but Ward was a class above the 32-year-old Liverpuddlian. He was selected as an opponent at relatively short notice so that may have affected his preparation and he found this a much more difficult task than his two losing fights to Arthur Abraham
Nieves vs. Young
Nieves said goodbye to his 100% record as he is held to a draw by Young. Nieves looked to have done enough to take this one despite a strong finish from Young but the judges were divided on it. Scores 77-75 for Nieves 78-74 for Young and 76-76. Nieves, 28, is a former NGG silver medallist and a University Graduate. Southpaw Young, 26, was also a top line amateur getting a silver medal at the NGG’s and just missing out at the final US Olympic Trials.
Arias vs. Brinson
“Cuba” Arias is yet another former star amateur who preserved his unbeaten record on the show. The Eddie Mustafa Muhammad trained fighter put Brinson down in both the second and third rounds to force the stoppage. “Cuba” , born in Milwaukee not Havana, the 25-year-old has very impressive amateur credentials winning a silver medal at the World Cadet Championships, a bronze medal at the World Junior Championships and twice being US National champion. He has wins as an amateur over Shawn Porter and Marcus Browne and on his way to winning the 2010 National Championships he beat Tony Harrison, D’Mitrius Ballard and Jesse Hart but lost to Hart at the last stage of the US Olympic Trials. Great but no guarantee of pro success. Brinson no real test.