Andre Ward returns; stops Paul Smith in nine
Andre Ward has returned after a nineteen month layoff and ring rust was barely evident in a ninth round thrashing of British contender Paul Smith.
Ward (28-0, 15 knockouts) was the more effective fighter throughout and, off this performance, looks as good as ever. His vaunted skill set had Smith in retreat, while the American’s defensive prowess had the visitor swinging at shadows.
The bout, which took place at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California, was a homecoming and Ward’s support stood as one for their local hero. Smith, who controversially weighed in over four pounds heavier than the agreed upon catch weight of 172, was met with the expected hostility.
Ward, 171.8 pounds, scored brilliantly from the outside and his physical strength, despite being the lighter man, was clearly evident up close. Smith could get nothing done and absorbed solid jabs and power shots in each round. The visitor’s face was a crimson mask when his corner threw in the towel.
The official time of the stoppage 1:46 of Round 9 and there were no knockdowns.
A full report will follow shortly.