Jackie Kallen: Andre Ward vs Edwin Rodriguez – The Battle of the Unbeatens
By Jackie Kallen
Don’t you love it when two undefeated fighters agree to fight one another? It was that way in the ’80s when Hearns/Leonard/Duran/Hagler mixed it up. The best fought the best. James Toney was the same way in the ’90s. He didn’t care whom he faced as long as there was a warm body in front of him. He’s faced eleven unbeaten men in his long career.
This Saturday night in Ontario, CA, four top boxers will put their 0 on the chopping block. HBO will televise the fights and Dan Goossen is promoting. In the co-main event, 17-0 Brandon Gonzales will take on 18-0 Jonathan Nelson in a super-middleweight division battle.
Twenty-nine year old Gonzales, who was born in Portland, Oregon and is fighting out of Sacramento is squaring off against his second straight undefeated man in a row. His last fight, in June at Foxwoods, was against then 21-0-1 Thomas Oosthuizen. It was a draw. The first two judges had each man winning and the third judge called it even.
Trained by Virgil Hunter (who also happens to be Andre Ward’s trainer), Gonzales felt that he got robbed. To him, it was an easy fight. The South African contender–Oosthuizen–also felt that he had done enough to get the win. Gonzales is not planning to end up with a draw again on Saturday. He is walking into that ring to make Nelson his 11th KO victim.
The lesser-known Nelson brings little to the ring. He has never been beaten, but has never really fought anyone. His last six opponents have lost a total of over 100 fights between them. It is hardly impressive to have gone the distance (6 rounds) with Tyrone Jackson who is 8-34 and has been stopped 10 times.
Gonzales is big step up for Nelson, having beaten Ossie Duran in 2011. He trains at a prestigious gym with a well-respected trainer and has the formidable Andre Ward to learn from. Unless Nelson has the best night of his fight career, he will probably walk away having learned some valuable boxing lessons, but with a loss.
In the main event, 28 year-old Dominican Edwin Rodriguez, now living in Worcester, MA, brings his 24-0 stats to the ring. He’ll try to accomplish the near-impossible: A win again Andre “S.O.G” Ward. In my opinion, Ward has proven to be almost unbeatable and I doubt Gonzales will be able to do what Chad Dawson, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Mikkell Kessler, Edison Miranda and others couldn’t do.
Ward is at the top of his game. He is a gold medalist, an announcer, a devout Christian, and a loving husband and father. Next to Floyd Mayweather, jr., he is considered to be the best P4P fighter on the world. It doesn’t get much better.
Could Edwin Rodriguez beat Andre Ward? Anything is possible. But don’t bet your paycheck on it.