It is always better to win ugly, then to not win at all. And that is exactly what current WBA Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward did on Saturday night at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. Ward walked away with the Unanimous Decision; the final judges’ score cards were 120-108, 118-110, and 118-110.
The crowd erupts for hometown favorite and champion Andre “SOG” Ward, after greeting challenger Sakio Bika with a shower of boos. The crowd is biased, to say the least, but with good cause: Ward is the champ, tournament leader and more importantly, a kid who grew up in the Bay area. The one disappointing aspect is the lack of attendance; there are a lot of empty seats. But that does not stop the Ward fans from voicing the support.
In what can only be described as ugly, Ward battled it out against contender Sakio Bika for 12 grueling rounds and ultimately beat Bika at his own game, keeping his undefeated record intact at 23-0. Much credit should be given to Bika for taking the fight after Ward's initial opponent Andre Dirrell was forced to withdraw from the Super Six Super Middleweight Tournament.
The fight was slow moving and for most of the night saw both combatants working from the clinch. Ward showed that he is still a work in progress, and quickly adapted to the plodding pace of Bika and was able to land the cleaner shots and afflict more damage. When Bika wasn’t clinching, he has working in head-butts’ and elbows to frustrate and the champ and cause damage of his own.
When that strategy started to fail, Bika began do drop his head and start throwing wild bombs in hopes of catching and dropping the hometown favorite Ward. Ward was aware of Bika's intentions, saying, “A lot of Bika's stuff was intentional (head-butts and elbows). But I wanted to continue to stay in close and break him down."
This was a perfect fight for Ward, (who was never considered a favorite to win the Super Six Tournament when it began) to prepare for his upcoming fight against former IBF Middleweight Champion Arthur Abraham. Both Bika and Abraham have similar styles and have been known to be slow starters and desperate finishers.
Ward Promoter Dan Goossen went as far as to say that “I believe that Andre will manhandle Abraham.” One thing is for sure: if Ward does “manhandle Abraham,” he will not do it in front of his hometown crowd.
The attendance was reported to have been around 4,000 and everywhere you looked around the Oracle Arena, you saw empty seats. Goossen said that the Abraham fight will not take place in Oakland, and that both he and Andre Ward would not be against having the fight in Las Vegas, probably sometime around March of 2011.
The details will eventually have to be ironed out, but one thing is for sure. Andre Ward is only getting better and after the performance he had against Sakio Bika, he has proved that he can adapt to and overcome to any style that his opponent throws at him. Take in to consideration that Ward is fighting opponents that are clearly more seasoned and have loads more fight experience.
The scariest part of all of this is that Ward is only getting better and is proving that he can live up to the all the hype and attention that has followed him since his Gold medal winning run at the 2004 Summer Olympic games in Athens, Greece
The sky is the limit for Andre Ward, but before his name can be uttered along with the sport’s greatest of all time, he has to fight Arthur Abraham and continue his improbable run through the Super Six Super Middleweight Tournament. Winning pretty or winning ugly has nothing to do with the fact that all Andre “SOG” Ward does is win.