Ward outclasses and halts Smith
World super middleweight champion Andre Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) returned to the ring in dominant fashion with a 9th-round stoppage of Britain's Paul Smith (35-6, 20 KOs) on Saturday night in his hometown of Oakland at the Oracle Arena.
Ward, who was fighting for the first time in 19 months due to a protracted legal dispute with his former promoter, the late Dan Goosen, dominated from the start before the former British champion's corner threw in the towel.
The non-title fight was scheduled for a catchweight of 172 pounds but Smith weighed in on Friday at 176.4, however, size did not matter.
Ward's stiff jab reddened Smith’s face in the opening seconds and he stunned Smith with a four-punch combination in the third round.
The American used his jab to set up more assaults in the following rounds as his opponent's right eye was beginning to swell up.
Smith spent most of the fight in defensive mode but he did have some success in the 7th when he connected with a big right-hand, but Ward shrugged it off and soon regained control. He landed some big punches in the 8th and opened up a cut above Smith's left eye.
In the 9th, Ward continued to land his hard shots and with Smith's face covered in blood from his nose and eye, his trainer Joe Gallagher threw in the towel and referee Lou Moret waved off the bout at 1:46 of the round.