ONTARIO, Calif. – The one-sided decision had just been announced when someone at ringside, shaking his head in awe of RING super middleweight champ Andre Ward, said what a lot of people who saw him fight Saturday had to be thinking:
“It’s going to take someone really special to beat this guy.”
Edwin Rodriguez wasn’t nearly special enough before 4,158 at Citizens Business Bank Arena, as Ward won a near-shutout decision in as dominating a performance as any in his career.
And that’s saying something considering what Ward was up against.
Rodriguez isn’t a great fighter but he’s very good. He had no losses on his resume, which included victories over some solid opponents. Ward hadn’t fought in 14 months because of an injury to his right shoulder that required surgery. And, perhaps most notably, Rodriguez was the bigger man after having missed the 168-pound weight limit by two pounds on Friday.
None of that even remotely mattered. Ward gave his baffled foe a thorough boxing lesson almost from the opening bell, picking Rodriguez apart with a wide variety of punches on a wide variety of targets from a wide variety of angles.
Rodriguez, tough but not athletic, couldn’t see the punches let alone avoid them. And he was just as frustrated in his attempts to land his own shots, as Ward either clinched or moved quickly out of harm’s way when danger approached. Rodriguez didn’t land any memorable blows over the 12 rounds.
Thus, the official scores were no surprise: 118-106 (a shutout), 117-107 and 116-108, which reflected two points each fighter lost in the fourth round for a wild exchange during which Rodriguez accidentally hit referee Jack Reiss after the fighters were told to break.
That might’ve been Rodriguez’s best punch of the fight. Otherwise, the only thing Rodriguez managed to accomplish was to survive. He took everything Ward (27-0, 14 knockouts) had to offer – including a head-swiveling left hook in the 11th round – and was never hurt.
At least not physically. He undoubtedly experienced some pain emotionally after the fight. The good news was that he walked away with his biggest payday, $800,000. The bad news was that he was fined a whopping $200,000 for missing weight and then was embarrassed in the ring by a far superior opponent.
Ward seemed to be pleased afterward but was already looking forward.
“I'm going to get better and better. This was after 14 months off. I'm going to get right back into the gym and get right back at it,” Ward said.
The promotion was contentious even before the weigh-in, as the teams exchanged more trash than might’ve been expected from two mild-mannered fighters. And the fact Rodriguez (24-1, 16 KOs) failed to make weight didn’t please Ward, although Ward was awarded half the $200,000 fine as per California State Athletic Commission rules.
“He didn't really come to win,” Ward said. “He came here to get lucky. He wants to hold and make it ugly and hope that he can catch me with something big. You gotta learn how to fight those kinds of guys. It's not always going to be a spectacular performance.
“A win is a win, and I felt like I did great. I've been off for 14 months, and I'm glad to be back.”
In preliminary fights, super middleweight prospect Brandon Gonzalez (18-0-1, 10 KOs) defeated Jonathan Nelson (18-1, 8 KOs) by a one-sided unanimous decision in a 10-round super middleweight fight. The scores were 99-91, 99-91 and 98-92.
Sergio Mora (25-3-2, 8 KOs), the former junior middleweight titleholder, knocked out Milton Nunez (26-9-1, 24 KOs) at 2:53 of the fifth round. Mora put Nunez down and then followed with a flurry of punches that prompted the referee to stop the fight.
And lightweight contender John Molina (27-3, 22 KOs) stopped journeyman Jorge Pimental (27-21, 21 KOs) at 2:59 the second round.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda