Saturday, June 10, 2023  |


Weekend Review: Ward’s big night

Fighters Network

Muhammad Ali received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree on Sunday from Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. Dr. Peyton Helm, president of the private liberal arts college, congratulates the former heavyweight champion during commencement ceremonies. Photo by Jeff


Andre Ward: The last American to won an Olympic gold medal didn’t turn in a dazzling performance against Edison Miranda on Saturday in his hometown of Oakland, Calif., and failed to stop the tough Colombian, as Arthur Abraham and Kelly Pavlik did. However, he dominated a proven veteran from beginning to end with his superior skills and plenty of hard, stinging punches. In other words, he passed the test. Ward, ranked No. 2 by the WBC and WB0, should soon get a shot at either Carl Froch (WBC) or Karoly Balzsay (WBA) for a title.


Edison Miranda: Before he faced Abraham for the first time, in 2006, the intimidating South American was an impressive 26-0 (with 23 knockouts) and an intriguing contender. Now, after losing all his biggest fights in one-sided fashion, he’s become nothing more than a designated stepping stone for much better fighters. And as the losses pile up, he can’t play that role indefinitely. It seems the once-feared puncher is evolving into a solid journeyman with a recognizable name even though he’s only 28.


Ward: Oakland sports fans don’t have a lot to cheer about these days. The Raiders are one of the worst organizations in sports. The A’s are in last place in their division. And the Warriors, who play in the same arena in which Ward fought on Saturday, have been to the playoffs once in 15 years. Ward might be the best thing going in town. He’s a gold medalist with a perfect record and a bright future. He also handles himself with class and embraces the support of his hometown. No wonder a healthy 7,818 showed up on Saturday.


Ward: Ward thoroughly dominated Miranda yet had this to say immediately after the fight: “This is kind of a bittersweet victory. I’m happy and excited because the fans had a good time, and there were a lot of people here, but I’m not 100 percent happy with my performance. I’ve got to go look at the tape. I did some things well, but I felt I could have improved in other areas.” That kind of honesty is only the latest indication that Ward has his head on straight. In fact, he probably has it on too straight in terms of self promotion. He’s just not the type tell everyone how great he is.


Shawn Estrada: The former Olympian stopped Cory Jones 1:31 into their scheduled four-round super middleweight fight on Saturday in Oakland, Calif. That’s Estrada’s fifth first-round knockout in six fights. The East Los Angeles product, who lost in the second round of the 2008 Olympics, has fought a total of 14 minutes, 42 seconds in his six fights. The only fighter to get out of the first round against him was Omar Coffi, who was stopped 47 seconds into the third last month.


Roberto Garcia: Those who followed his boxing career remember Garcia as a solid junior lightweight titleholder and one of the classiest people in the business. Who could’ve known that he would become a successful young trainer? He was in the corner of Brian Viloria for the Hawaiian’s spectacular KO of Ulises Solis last month. He also trains undefeated prospects Brandon Rios and (his brother) Miguel Angel Garcia, both of whom were victorious on Saturday in Primm, Nev. This appears to be only the beginning.


Pacquiao vs. Mayweather debate: Hundreds of you sent emails giving your choice for the fighter of the decade. The majority picked Manny Pacquiao but many picked Mayweather and others. The vast majority of emailers presented good arguments for their choices, convincing me that there is no right and wrong in this debate. A case can be made for several fighters. And it all comes down to preference. The most important thing is that so many of you are passionate about the sport we love. Keep in touch.


Miranda: The California State Athletic Commission confiscated a suspicious substance from the corner of Miranda during his fight against Ward on Saturday in Oakland, Calif., the Associated Press reported. Officials apparently didn't see it actually given or applied to Miranda. Dan Goossen, who promoted the card, said the substance will be tested and results could be available as soon as Monday. The sport suffered a serious blow when officials found a foreign substance in Antonio Margarito's hand wraps. Let's hope this turns out to be nothing.


Miranda, after his loss to Ward: “I thought it was going to be easier, but it was tougher than I was expecting.” Redundant, but probably honest.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]