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Andre Ward Will Make Major Statement with Win over Edwin Rodriguez

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http://ringnews24.com/images/pixel.gifOne of boxing's most dominant forces is back.

After a 14-month layoff, Andre "S.O.G." Ward (26-0, 14 KO) is back in action Saturday night against Edwin "La Bomba" Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KO).

A title may not be on the line as expected, but Ward is set to make a major statement to the boxing world.

Ward won't be defending his WBA super middleweight title—technically. He was supposed to, but as Jeff Faraudo of the San Jose Mercury News reports, Rodriguez will be unable to win the title because he failed to make weight:

But in a shocking development Friday, Rodriguez did not make weight. He tipped the scales at 170 pounds -- 2 over the 168-pound limit -- meaning a title is off the table for Rodriguez even if he wins the fight.

Ward, on the other hand, will be credited with successfully defending his title if he wins and will remain champion if he loses.


Even without a chance at losing his title, Ward is set to put the rest of the sport on notice—he's back.

Ward has not lost a fight as a professional. He returns from the largest break of his career thanks to shoulder surgery, a scary re-injury and an arbitration battle with promoter Dan Goossen as Faraudo details.

Yet, all of that is white noise once Ward makes his return to the ring.

Rather, his return to dominance.

Ward is by no means a crowd-pleaser. Think of Floyd Mayweather's style—defensive, picking and choosing spots and otherwise playing an evasive front.

That's Ward in a nutshell. His last bout came against then-WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in September of 2012. Ward threw just 41.8 punches per round (the average for his weight class is well above 50) and landed an impressive 37 percent of his total attempts.

The result? Dawson hit the canvas in three different rounds and the bout was called in the 10th.


Call that par for the course for Ward.

Perhaps Ward's best skill is lulling the opposition into mistakes. His style causes others to telegraph their intentions—which are often met with a violent rebuttal.

This is horrible news for Rodriguez. La Bomba is a volume puncher and simply overwhelms opponents with a barrage of offense. He's re-written record books with his style and holds six of the top 11 single-round outputs among super middleweights.

For an elite counter-puncher such as Ward, this is a dream come true.

To make matters worse, Rodriguez's own promoter does not sound too thrilled about his fighter's chances. Lou DiBella had this to say after Rodriguez failed to make weight per ESPN's Dan Rafael:

I truly believe in him as a fighter and that he had a chance to do something great, and now he is in a situation where he can't win the belt, and he has been docked money his family desperately needed, and I have a hard time believing he will be at his best.


Not only does Rodriguez enter the bout at a potential disadvantage from a technical standpoint, he is clearly ill-prepared overall.


Call it a perfect storm for Ward in his first bout back. Rodriguez brings a hectic pace to the table, but the veteran and technically-superior Ward will have no issues shaking off the ring rust quickly.

When he does, the fight will swing in Ward's favor. From there he'll coast to a win via decision and once again take a seat as one of boxing's best.


Note: Pertinent statistics courtesy of HBO.


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