The HBO Boxing main event tonight (Sat., Nov. 16, 2013) between Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez took a turn for the bizarre in the middle of the WBA Super Middleweight showdown, but eventually settled the match into its expected outcome.
Indeed, Ward won a wide decision victory over previously-undefeated Rodriguez to keep his own perfect record intact (27-0).
Following the example of Sakio Bika, Rodriguez came into this fight with the clear intention of making it as ugly as possible ... and it seemed like a good plan early on.
Initiating the clinch at every opportunity, Rodriguez found success with a clubbing right to the head despite Ward's considerable in-fighting prowess. While he was unable to inflict any real damage on his much-favored foe, he was effectively muting Ward's offense entirely. Ward started getting his bearings in short order, but Rodriguez still found sporadic success.
Until the fourth round, which is when it got ugly.
During a particularly mean-spirited clinch, the fighters completely ignored the referee, continuing to trade blows long after he had demanded they stop. As he attempted to physically intervene, he took a glancing shot from Rodriguez. Luckily for Edwin, he was not disqualified, the referee instead chose to deduct two points from each fighter and recommend that they be fined.
Now much less willing to work on the inside, Rodriguez was forced to deal with Ward's outside game.
And he dealt with it poorly.
The fight essentially devolved into target practice for Ward, who chewed up Rodriguez with powerful left hooks, slick combinations and a surprisingly-vicious jab. What clinch exchanges there were favored Ward only slightly, but Rodriguez was unable to get anything going there, either.
Ward eventually earned the decision on scores of 118-106, 117-107, 116-108.
The question now is who is left for Ward to fight -- Every Super Middleweight worth his salt has already come up short against him. Should Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. actually win his rematch with Bryan Vera, he's an intriguing option, as well as former Ward victim Carl Froch, who recently defeated Mikkel Kessler.
The dream match up, of course, is Ward versus fellow Olympian Gennady Golovkin, who is currently wrecking shop at 160 pounds.
Only time will tell.
For complete "Ward vs. Rodriguez" round-by-round coverage of the night's proceedings click here.