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Andre Ward Has His Way With Edwin Rodriguez

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Andre Ward showed not a hint of ring rust as he dominated tough-chinned Edwin Rodriguez most thoroughly in Ontario, CA, and on HBO Saturday night. After 14 months away, Ward’s timing didn’t look off even a bit. It was chippy bout early, and it looked like it might go off the rails, but the fighters settled down some. Rodriguez looked to land haymakers, but he couldn’t get a bead on the pound for pound ace, a pugilist-specialist whose power jab and left hook was a problem from the get go for the loser. After twelve rounds, the decision was a no brainer, and happily, the judges didn’t drop the ball. They scored it 118-106, 117-107, 116-108 for the Cali boxer, who fans will hope will next pursue a mega-bout against Gennady Golovkin, or a showdown with a bomber at 175, Sergey Kovalev or Adonis Stevenson, perhaps.

According to CompuBox, Ward went 217-526 to 83-389 for the loser.

After, Ward spoke to Max Kellerman. The victor said that Edwin didn’t really come to win, but that he wanted to get lucky. Did the loser not earn his respect? Ward said it was unprofessional to not try and make weight, and he used that to motivate himself. Ward was asked about Edwin’s tactics, and Ward lauded the ref for cleaning things up. He said he was careful when he hurt him because he knew Edwin was still wanting to get lucky. Ward didn’t call out anyone afterwards. He said the fans kept him afloat during his hiatus.

Rodriguez left the ring after the decision.

The WBA super middle champ Ward (26-0 with 14 KOs entering; age 29; from Oakland, CA) was 167.8 pounds. Rodriguez (24-0 with 16 K0s; age 28; from the Dominican Republic, living in Worcester, Mass.) didn’t make the super middleweight limit, so he knew going in he couldn’t win the title even if he beat Ward.

There was pre-fight drama on Friday, as Rodriguez was two pounds over weight. He couldn’t lose any more, so he took a cut to his purse, and needed to be under 180 pounds on Saturday morning. He just made it, hitting 179.8 this morning. Team Ward threatened to pull out of the fight if the WBA’s rules weren’t abided by, and Rodriguez was only deducted 20% of his purse, not the 35-45% their rules call for if certain circumstances are met. But the show went on…

Edwin said his body gave up, and on Friday, he tried twice to sweat out weight, running, and in the sauna, but he couldn’t do it. He told the HBO crew, though, an hour and a half before the weigh in, that he was in good shape to make weight.

In the first, Ward looked in fine form, though he was away from the ring for 14 months after hurting his right shoulder, and getting surgery. He hurt the shoulder when he was age 12, and it has been his Achilles heel. The rotator cuff was torn, he said, and he made the left hand better to compensate. Both hands looked stiff in round one, though there was a bunch of holding and grappling. Ward’s jab was his best weapon. Edwin came out aggressive, and trainer Ronnie Shields said he liked the work.

In the second, the ref Jack Reiss told the men to “relax” and quit grappling. Lefts inside worked well for Ward as did his jab. A left hook from Edwin landed clean, and then they went back to grappling. Trainer Virgil Hunter said after that Edwin was “trying to disqualify himself.”

In the third, a hard jab by Ward impressed. His timing was improving. Ward’s jab to the body was clever and sharp. Was he pulling away, perhaps? Ward went 28-45 to 7-35 according to CompuBox in that round.

In the fourth, the fighters grappled and the ref got hit trying to break them up. Edwin had Ward in a headlock and that irked Ward. Reiss yelled at Edwin, and called him an instigator. He warned both men, and took two points from each man. He actually went to the lead commisoner, and asked that both men be fined. Ward landed a nasty jab after that hubbub. Ward was leaping in with left hooks by now. Edwin stuck out his tongue a few times, but that was his best answer.

In the fifth, a left hook by Ward landed heavy at 1:55. Edwin locked another headlock in on Ward, who had Edwin’s right eye swelling. When Edwin missed it was often by a wide margin. Trainer Hunter asked for “the Floyd straight” right after the round. He asked Ward to remain balanced, as well.

In the sixth, Ward grinned as Edwin missed with two shots. The champ was so accurate though Edwin never looked buzzed. Shields told him he was behind, bigtime, after the round. In the seventh, it was a mellower round, until a Ward combo exploded on Edwin’s head at 55 seconds. Rights to the body by Ward had to be bothersome. In the eighth, Ward got going with combos. The power jab kept on landing clean. Edwin kept on throwing the occasional looping bomb.As usual, Ward was master of distance. He landed from outside and inside, and then smartly blunted his foe by crowding him.

In the ninth, Edwin hung in there but Ward dictated the round with his jab. Hunter said he was “boxing a masterpiece” after the round. In the tenth, a left hook by Ward had the crowd buzzing. Ward’s underrated ability to use his feet to get the angles he wanted was in evidence. Ward was the same dominant boxer in the 11th and 12th. A cut formed on Edwin’s left eye late in the round and Reiss asked him if he wanted to continue. Yes, he said. We went to the cards.

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th

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UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

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Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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Charr-Oquendo Scuttled When Charr Tests Positive; the Odious WBA Saves Face

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Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo were scheduled to fight in Cologne, Germany, later this month (Sept. 29). Charr would be defending his WBA world heavyweight title, the “regular” version of it, not the “super” version which rests in the hands of Anthony Joshua.

The bout was quickly cancelled when it was revealed that Charr had tested positive for two banned anabolic steroids. The test was performed by VADA, the anti-doping agency identified with Las Vegas neurologist Dr. Margaret Goodman.

The 33-year-old Charr, born in Lebanon but a resident of Germany since the age of three, won the belt in his last start with a unanimous decision over 281-pound Russian behemoth Alexander Ustinov in Oberhausen, Germany. The title was vacant. Charr won the right to fight for it with a 10-round decision over Albanian slug Sefer Seferi. The victory over Ustinov elevated his record to 31-4. He has been stopped three times, by Vitali Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin, and Mairis Briedis.

If it wasn’t for bad luck, as the old saying goes, Fres Oquendo wouldn’t have any luck at all. For various reasons, his fights keep falling out. Before long he’ll be drawing social security. Well, not exactly, but he turned 45 in April and hasn’t fought in more than four years.

Oquendo has competed for this belt before. In his last ring appearance in July of 2014, he lost a majority decision to Russia’s Ruslan Chagaev in Grozny, Russia. As a concession for taking the fight on short notice, Team Oquendo negotiated a rematch clause in the contract, but a shoulder injury prevented Fres from activating it. When the injury healed, he had to go to court to compel Chagaev to fulfill his obligation. But then the Russian retired, muddling the water.

The WBA was legally bound to find Oquendo a title fight and in desperation turned to ancient Shannon Briggs. But the Oquendo-Briggs fight, scheduled for June 3 of last year in Hollywood, Florida, fell out when Briggs’ urine specimen showed an abnormally high level of testosterone.

Fres Oquendo was dogged by bad luck even before these recent developments. His professional record, 37-8, is somewhat misleading as six of his eight defeats were razor-thin including his 2003 setback to Chris Byrd and his 2006 setback to Evander Holyfield. However, Oquendo, something of a cutie, was never a crowd-pleaser and in none of his narrow defeats was there a public clamor for a rematch.

The cancellation of Charr-Oquendo cuts the World Boxing Association out of a sanctioning fee, but one would think that the WBA honchos are actually rather pleased by this turn of events. The fight, more precisely the WBA’s world title imprimatur, would have brought more unwanted publicity to the Panama-based organization.

ESPN’s Dan Rafael, who has the largest platform of any boxing writer, has been a persistent critic of the organization which once recognized 41 “champions” in 17 weight classes. In 2009, Rafael wrote, “(The WBA) has become such an absolute farce that even somebody like me, who follows boxing closely, sometimes has a hard time keeping track of all the nonsensical so-called world title belts the WBA has been doling out at an alarming rate. It almost reminds me of the ladies at Costco who hand out various samples on a busy Saturday afternoon.”

Rafael took note when WBA president Gilberto Mendoza promised to cull the herd by eliminating “regular” titles, and then became more caustic when Mendoza didn’t follow through. Recently, in one short, punchy diatribe, Rafael blistered the WBA as wretched, vile, and rancid.

Regardless of your opinion, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Fres Oquendo who keeps getting stranded at the altar. No, he’s not fun to watch and a man of his age shouldn’t be taking any more punches, but he has always been an honest workman and by all accounts he’s a very decent man. Born in Puerto Rico but raised in Chicago, Oquendo pitched right in when the island nation of his birth was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. He was personally responsible for relocating Puerto Rican boxing legend Wilfred Benitez and Benitez’s sister, his caregiver, to Chicago where their lives wouldn’t be as hard.

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