Andre Ward picks up where he left off: Weekend Review
Andre Ward: First, it should be pointed out that Edwin Rodriguez was the perfect opponent for Ward’s return to the ring after a 14-month hiatus from boxing Saturday in Ontario, Calif. Rodriguez is a very good fighter but neither quick nor powerful, leaving him with little hope of beating Ward. That said, Ward’s utter domination of a legitimate challenger was particularly impressive for at least two reasons. One, Ward he had the long layoff because of surgery to repair an injured right shoulder. He showed no rust, landing hard, accurate punches throughout and taking very few shots himself to win a near-shutout decision. He appeared to be at his best. And, two, Ward dominated a bigger man as Rodriguez failed to make the 168-pound weight limit by two pounds on Friday. The only flaw in Ward’s performance might’ve been his inability to score a knockout, further evidence that the RING champ isn’t a big puncher. No, Ward (27-0, 14 knockouts) isn’t the perfect fighter. There aren’t many who come as close to perfection as he does, though.
Edwin Rodriguez: Rodriguez was a winner from a business standpoint, earning a career-high purse of $800,000 to fight Ward. It takes the average American around 17 years to make that kind of money. Otherwise, the promotion was a disaster for Rodriguez. He failed to make weight by two pounds on Friday, which cost him 20 percent of his original $1 million purse and made the matchup a non-title fight. And he was embarrassed in the fight. He came out like a wild man at the opening bell, an apparent attempt to catch Ward by surprise or rough him up, but he ended up eating hard punches all night and couldn’t find Ward to land his own. The only thing about which he can boast is that Ward never really hurt him, which is a tribute to his chin but might also have something to do with his size advantage. It’s a good thing Rodriguez (24-1, 16 KOs) made good money. I doubt TV executives are going to be clamoring for him to appear on their networks anytime soon.
Ward vs. Golovkin: Abel Sanchez and Tom Loeffler, middleweight Gennady Golovkin’s trainer and promotional representative, might’ve been at the Ward-Rodriguez fight for fun. More likely, they were there to scout Ward as a possible opponent for their client. I like that matchup for both boxers and the fans. From Ward’s perspective, Golovkin is a hot, big-name opponent who stirs boxing fans and a smaller man. From Golovkin’s perspective, Ward would represent his first opportunity to fight on a truly big stage. And Ward’s lack of power could mitigate any size disadvantage. From the fans’ perspective, it’s the kind of fascinating matchup of gifted young fighters in their primes that we crave. It makes more sense for Golovkin to fight a more-beatable Sergio Martinez first. A victory over the aging Argentine would make Golovkin more marketable and a potential matchup with Ward even bigger.
NEXT BEST MATCHUP?
Mora vs. Golovkin: OK, no one is clamoring for Golovkin to fight Sergio Mora, who stopped Colombian journeyman Milton Nunez (26-9-1, 24 KOs) in the fifth round on the Ward-Rodriguez card. Mora (25-3-2, 8 KOs) isn’t a horrible option, though. The former junior middleweight titleholder, who once beat Vernon Forrest and drew with Shane Mosley, would almost certainly not beat Golovkin but he’s slick and experienced enough to give the Kazakhstani a more significant challenge than he normally faces. Brian Vera, who has outpointed Mora twice, probably deserves a shot at Golovkin before Mora. However, one, he might not want the fight. And, two, I don’t think he matches up quite as well with Golovkin. Mora is a bit quicker and more athletic. Again, though, it doesn’t matter much. Mora probably would stick around a bit longer than most Golovkin opponents but would end up in the same place.
Referee Jack Reiss: Reiss rivals Rodriguez for the best chin on the Ward-Rodriguez card. The California official was trying to separate Ward and Rodriguez after yelling “break” in the fourth round but the fighters continued to throw punches, one of which landed on the ref’s head. Reiss stopped the action in part to gather his wits but also to take control of a wild fight. He took two points from both fighters to make it clear he wasn’t fooling around without affecting the outcome, had them both fined $2,500 (the amount determined by another official) and threatened both with disqualification if they didn’t cooperate. No one at ringside could recall a referee taking two points from both fighters but it allowed Reiss to make his point. It wasn’t the cleanest fight in history after the incident but the fighters clearly settled down. Kudos to Reiss, who is one of the best in the business.
James DeGale, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist from the U.K., defeated Dyah Davis (22-4-1, 10 KOs) by a one-sided unanimous decision to continue his ascent toward a world title shot. One likely possibility is that DeGale (17-1, 11 KOs) will face Marco Antonio Periban with the winner getting a shot at WBC super middleweight titleholder Sakio Bika. ÔÇª Vyacheslav Glazkov (16-0-1, 11 KOs) did what he was expected to do Saturday afternoon in Verona, N.Y., beat late replacement Garrett Wilson (13-7-1, 7 KOs). Glazkov, who was supposed to fight Tomasz Adamek, won a one-sided decision to remain a solid heavyweight prospect. I was at least as impressed with Wilson’s effort. The Philadelphian is a short cruiserweight who took the fight on a few days’ notice yet fought hard to win. I think he earned a shot at another fight on TV. ÔÇª Patrick Nielsen (21-0, 10 KOs) of Denmark is establishing himself as one of the better middleweights in the world. He stopped Mexican Jose Pinzon (24-6, 15 KOs) in the fifth round Saturday in Albertslund, Denmark. Nielsen, a southpaw, is only 22. ÔÇª Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (23-3-1, 21 KOs) retained his WBC junior bantamweight title by stopping Hirofumi Mukai (9-3-1, 1 KO) in nine rounds Friday in Thailand. Sor Rungvisai started his career 1-3-1. He is 22-0 since, with 20 knockouts.