By Dwight Harrison: Undefeated super-middleweight king Andre Ward who’s record stands 26-0-0 with 13 knockouts returns to the ring tonight after a 14 month lay off to take on Edwin Rodriguez 24-0-0 with 16 knockouts.
The former gold medalist and Oakland California native is considered second on most peoples pound for pound list and the heir to the throne when Floyd Mayweather Jr. hangs up his gloves.
The most compelling story line in this bout is how will ring rust effect Andre “SOG” Ward’s exceptional skills and will it allow Edwin Rodriguez to do better than expected or even win against his heavy favored opponent.
Edwin seems to think the lay off will have more of an effect than Ward Is letting on, and could walk into something big an be hurt. So is Ward being caught at the right time?
Ward Promises to put on a show against Rodriguez and hopes ring rust isn’t something he’s banking on to give him a edge has he feels his opponent will be unpleasantly surprised.
“They think they’re catching me at the right time. They think the layoff, the injury, I’m ripe for the picking,” the 29-year-old Oakland-based fighter said. “But they’re going to have a rude awakening.”
The fighter nicknamed SOG Son Of God believes that not only will he be back at his sparkling best but that his fans and the world will be faced with an even better version of himself.
Due to his new found power in his right hand coming of his right shoulder surgery. Andre says he has power in his right hand that he hasn’t had for years.
As a 12 year old amateur a young Andre hurt his right shoulder the last time he’s felt the level off pop that he’s producing right now and claims his arms fixed.
“Now that it’s fixed, I have a lot more pop in this arm and I’m excited about it,” Ward told ESPN. “I’m excited to showcase it on Saturday. Even though it was a tough road back, I look at it like it was a positive to get that fixed finally. I never want to be off.”
If this is true that’s just another weapon along with his powerful left hook that buzzed Carl Froch and dropped and stopped Chad Dawson, along with a stiff jab and a tremendous inside game.
Amazing balance, footwork and ring IQ if you add a solid right hand which has been looked at as the only missing part of Wards game what you have is a dangerous and complete fighter.
So if the right hand is really improved and the ring rust is no factor Wards accuracy and offensive game could see Rodriguez taking shots all night. And I can’t see his chin holding up to Wards power especially if there’s another arm full off power to complement his very dangerous left hand.
Andrew Robinson reckons boxing saved him from a bullet
Robinson is carving out a successful ring career after quitting the Birmingham gang wars that almost claimed his life.
He aims to stay on course for a shot at super-middleweight honours with a ninth straight win in Wolverhampton on Sunday December 1 – but admits he’s lucky to be alive.
“I was a bad boy, a horrible person with a lot of anger,” said the 29 year-old, now based in Redditch.
“I was living a life of crime, robbing people and doing things I would never dream of doing today.
“I never went to prison because I was smart, conniving, but I’m not proud of it.
“I come from a good family, but hung around with a bad crowd and probably should be dead. I’ve had a gun pulled on me twice.
“Boxing has changed me. I’m a religious family man now.”
Robinson found a better way when he found his way to Lions Amateur Boxing Club.
He made his ring debut aged 22, and won 20 of his 25 bouts before deciding to ditch the head guard and vest after a points loss in the semi finals of the ABA Novice championships.
“I leathered him and lost by a point,” he said. “That result still bothers me now, but it has made me strong.”
As a professional, Robinson is improving with every fight and says his points win over Bulwell hairdresser Gilson De Jesus in June was a big boost to his confidence.
“I learned a lot about myself in that fight,” he said. “All boxers have questions about themselves and I ticked a box in that fight. I showed how resilient I can be.”
Robinson says his main attributes are “a granite chin and my power.”
He’s not lacking toughness, fitness or aggression either.
His amateur coaches nicknamed him ‘D’Animal’ and it’s stuck. “I’ve always had the fight in me,” he said, “and I used to try to just steamroller everyone.
“But now I’m learning the science of boxing.”
Robinson is full of praise for trainers Shaun Cooper, Lindon Scarlett and Razza Campbell – all former pros – and although his long-range skills are improving, he is at his best when he has his head on his opponent’s chest.
His crowd-pleasing style is helping Robinson build a good following from both Birmingham and Redditch and says there are “exciting fights out there for me.”
But he added: “I’m not going to make predictions because things have fallen apart for me before.
“I just want to keep learning and improving.”
Tickets for the show are available from 07827-745555.