Andre Ward kept both his unblemished record and his WBA super middleweight title on Saturday night against Edwin Rodriguez, winning a unanimous decision.
HBO Boxing had the judges' scorecards.
Of course, it was always going to be the case that Ward would keep his title, as Rodriguez came into the weigh-in two pounds overweight, per ESPN.com's Dan Rafael. That meant the fight was no longer for the title.
Regardless of the bout losing that added importance, it's a big win for Ward, coming off the back of his over yearlong layoff, as Roy Jones Jr. said during the fight.
Ward dominated the fight from start to finish. He did just about everything better than Rodriguez. His punches were more crisp, and defensively, he never let the challenger get in any major blows. Ward had a definite blueprint for the fight, and he followed it to a T.
Rafael had the final stats for both fighters.
For the first three rounds, you could tell both guys were feeling each other out. Rodriguez was prepared to clinch, while Ward was biding his time before really taking it to his opponent.
The fireworks began in the fourth round.
Referee Jack Reiss made a name for himself, arguably in the wrong way. Both fighters were clinched up, and Reiss tried to step in and break them up. Only Ward and Rodriguez kept fighting, with Rodriguez inadvertently making contact with Reiss.
Reiss decided to stamp his authority, deducting points from both fighters and telling the commission that the two should face fines, via Rafael.
Although you can't blame Reiss for putting his foot down, the way he went about it was a bit too self-aggrandizing. Fight Network's Corey Erdman thought the referee could use some etiquette lessons.
The fact that a referee could take so much of the spotlight tells you a lot of what you need to know about the action going on in the ring.
To his credit, though, Reiss did help the fight to open up a bit more. With both fighters trying to avoid running afoul of the referee, they didn't go inside as much. There was actual boxing, which helped to add some excitement.
That was a fatal blow for Rodriguez. Coming in, his strategy was to take the fight to the inside and try to overpower Ward. For a little bit, that was moderately successful. He was slowing the pace of the fight. Then he pushed it too far, and Reiss stepped in.
After that fourth round, the champ was able to assert his dominance more and more. He landed a lot of body blows and jabs, and that only served to wear down the challenger. Rodriguez's punches became more desperate, which only gave Ward an easier time when he was on the defensive.
In addition, Rodriguez began taking a lot of big blows. It seemed whatever Ward wanted, he was able to get. As a result, Rosie Perez thought the challenger looked like a Pez dispenser.
Ward landed a huge left cross in the 10th round that somehow failed to knock down Rodriguez. You have to give him a lot of credit for his toughness and chin. That punch would sent others down.
In the end, this win is a step in the right direction for the champion. Now that he's demonstrated he's not rusty after his time away from the ring, he can head for bigger and brighter things.
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