HBO Boxing Preview: Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez
By: William Holmes
It’s not often that you see HBO televise only one fight on a Saturday night, but when they do it usually features an elite boxer.
Andre Ward is in the class of elite boxers. Granted, he has his detractors. One of the criticisms against Ward is that he constantly fights in or near his hometown. Nine of his last ten fights have been in California and tomorrow fight’s is no different.
However, Edwin Rodriguez is coming off a triumphant run through the Monte Carlo Super Four and is a tougher matchup for Ward than what people are giving him credit for.
The following is a preview of Saturday night’s title fight between Andre “Son of God” Ward and Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez.
Andre Ward (26-0) vs. Edwin Rodriguez (24-0); WBA Super Middleweight Title
It has been over a year since we’ve seen Andre Ward inside the ring, but when we last saw he put on one of the best performances in his career during a ten round demolition against then Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson.
Many wonder if Andre Ward has completely healed from his shoulder injury, but Ward seems more confident than ever.
Ward stated at the last press conference, “I’m locked in. I take this sport real serious. And he (Rodriguez) is going to find that out come Saturday night. Everybody talks about how hungry he is as a challenger, but he is running into a hungry champion. I am excited to get back. I’m sharp. I’m ready to be better than ever. ”
Ward is a quick, slick and defensive fighter. But he’s a small super middleweight and he will be giving up five inches in reach to the younger Edwin Rodriguez. Rodriguez’s jab and left hook has been steadily improving over the years and he used his reach perfectly in a first round stoppage over Monte Carlo Super Four finalist Denis Grachev.
While winning the Monte Carlo tournament is a worthy accomplishment, Rodriguez does recognize that Andre Ward has won an even more prestigious tournament.
Rodriguez stated, “I respect Andre Ward. I think he’s a good fighter. He has accomplished a lot in the sport of boxing, winning the tournament in the Super Six. But, at the same time, I don’t respect him either. I’m ready to get in there and punch that guy in the face. Come November 16th, I will do just that.”
Andre Ward won the gold medal in the light heavyweight division in the 2004 Olympics. He only has fourteen stoppages on his record and has stopped one out of his last five opponents. Ward however has been fighting stiff competition since 2009 and has been the WBA Champion since he defeated Mikkel Kessler in November of 2011.
Andre Ward’s list of vanquished opponents includes Chad Dawson, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allan Green, and Edison Miranda. He has been so dominant in the super middleweight division that there appears to be few options left for him if he’s victorious on Saturday.
Rodriguez has decent power but an incredible reach for a super middleweight. He has stopped sixteen of his opponents including two of his last five.
His level of opposition is nowhere near Andre Ward’s. His notable victories include Aaron Pryor Jr., Will Rosinsky, Done George, Ezequiel Maderna, and Denis Grachev. He did look impressive in his last two bouts, but he’ll have to box a perfect fight to dethrone Andre Ward.
This fight will likely be closer than expected, but Andre Ward is likely to skilled for Edwin Rodriguez and should earn a clear and comfortable decision victory.
There are better money fights for Ward in the light heavyweight division and a dominating victory for Ward may prompt a jump in weight class for his next fight.