By Allan Fox: WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward (27-0, 14 KO’s) was disgusted with the fight tactics of his opponent Edwin Rodriguez (24-1, 16 KO’) last night in his 12 round unanimous decision victory over him at the Citizens Business Bank Arena, in Ontario, California, USA. Ward got the decision by the scores 118-106, 117-107 and 116-108.
Ward thought that the 28-year-old Rodriguez had just come to try and make the fight as ugly as possible with fouling and rough stuff to try and put Ward out of his game. Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter believed earlier on after watching Rodriguez using various fouling tactics that he was just there to be disqualified. Hunter said “Take it for what it is, he’s trying to disqualify himself. Stay calm and land the pot shots.”
Indeed, in watching some of the things that Rodriguez did in the first four rounds, you could see him using his head to ram Ward’s head. Rodriguez also used his shoulder to bump Ward’s head when he was down low, and Rodriguez threw some rabbit punches to the back of Ward’s head in each of the first four rounds. In the 4th round, Rodriguez grabbed Ward with what locked like a tight headlock and instead of holding Ward in that position until the referee broke them, Rodriguez walked Ward backwards to the ropes.
Ward eventually got frustrated with Rodriguez not letting go of his head and the referee Jack Reiss not doing anything to break up Rodriguez’s head lock, so he nailed Rodriguez with a left uppercut while still being head. At that point the referee finally got Rodriguez to let Ward go. While the referee had his arms around Ward, Rodriguez got in a free shot to Ward’s head with a left hook. It was at this point that the referee stopped the action and took 2 points off from both fighters. He should have taken points off from Rodriguez because he’s the one that initiated the action with his prolonged headlock.
Ward did do some stuff that put himself in the position to take shots, such as holding Rodriguez’s right arm in the first couple of rounds. When Ward would do this, Rodriguez would use his free hand to club Ward over and over again until he would let go of his arm. It was surprising to see a fighter as good as Ward making the mistake of clamping down on one of Rodriguez’s arms and giving him the opportunity to throw shots. Ward should have figured out the first time that this wasn’t going to be a useful tactic against an experienced fighter like Rodriguez. Some fighters if you clamp down on one of their arms, they’ll stop fighting until the referee makes the other guy let go of his arm, but Rodriguez wasn’t playing it that way. He wanted to make Ward pay each time he held like that.
Rodriguez did various other things to make things rough for Ward like putting one arm around Ward’s waist and then clubbing him to the side of the head with his free arm. He would bull Ward to the ropes and use his taller body to try and keep him trapped there by leaning into him. Ward was able to answer Rodriguez back with shots that nullified what Rodriguez was doing.
Ward said to Max Kellerman of HBO after the fight “He didn’t really come to win. He came to get lucky. He wanted to hold, make it ugly and hope to catch you with something big. And you got to learn how to fight those kinds of guys. At the end of the day these are things that I feel are professional. There’s no way in my first championship fight I’m not going to make weight. But then he didn’t even try to make weight, so I was in here with a bigger man. It kind of is what it is. Jack [Reiss] set the record straight right away. To have to put up with illegal blows. I watched his films and he does that repeatedly on the inside. I don’t mind an occasional foul when it’s an accidental foul, but intentional stuff, I can’t just put up with. But Jack did a tremendous job.”