Classy Ward dominates rugged Rodriguez
Andre Ward (27-0) put over a year of inactivity behind him to win a unanimous points decision over Edwin Rodriguez (24-1) in a non-title super middleweight fight in California.
Ward, the WBA champion who did not have to put the title on the line after his Dominican opponent failed to make the weight, took the contest at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California 118-106, 117-107, 116-108 on the scorecards of the three judges.
Shoulder surgery had kept American Ward out of the ring for 14 months but he showed no ill effects as he dominated from the opening bell and even survived a fourth round bout of wrestling which saw both fighters deducted two points.
Ward took the opening round despite Rodriguez running at him from the bell, trying to get inside and make things uncomfortable.
Ward landed a jab early in round two and managed to avoid his opponent's tactics, which kept referee Jack Reiss busy, to score with a huge left hook.
There was no sign of Ward being ring rusty despite his lay-off and his work-rate had his opponent well behind after the first three rounds.
In the fourth round Reiss had to intervene as the brawling continued and when the fighters failed to break he took two points away from each of them.
Ward responded to the warning with a big right hand to make it four rounds in a row.
Rodriguez finally landed a good shot in round five but Ward again took the honours.
Ward kept up the accuracy to claim round six and then made good use of his left jab to add round seven.
Rounds eight and nine went the same way with Ward still dominating and a massive left saw him also take the 10th.
The 11th also went to Ward and his domination continued in the final round for an easy points win.