Five keys for Andre Ward
Plotting a path to victory in Saturday's title fight against Edwin Rodriguez
After a 14-month hiatus, super middleweight champion Andre Ward will be back in action to defend his title against unbeaten Edwin "La Bomba" Rodriguez.
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Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), who had shoulder surgery in January, is still one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in boxing coming off a stoppage victory against then-light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in September 2012.
Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KOs) is coming off the most impressive victory of his career when he knocked out light heavyweight Denis Grachev in the first round of their July bout in Monte Carlo.
Here are five keys to victory for Ward against Rodriguez:
If it's not broken ...
|To many in boxing, Ward is among the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet. He is technical, precise and fast, and he owns a high boxing IQ. Rodriguez is not one of the best opponents he has faced in his career, and that's why Ward has to keep his usual plan of staying active, changing his pace and frustrating his opponent before breaking him down little by little.|
To KO or not to KO
|Ward rarely starts a fight thinking about a knockout. He is cool and calculative, going for the finish only when he sees he is not in danger. If the slower Rodriguez continues with his style of throwing wide-open volleys, this time Ward may look for a KO. His advantages in speed should allow him to close in and release three- and four-punch combinations to the face, just as he did against Dawson before knocking him out in the 10th round.|
Use what you know
|When it comes to an undefeated champion like Ward -- who has defeated the likes of Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Dawson and Sakio Bika -- his greatest strength becomes his experience. That knowledge must be put to good use. Ward's experience against top-end competition has supplied him with the tools to bring a quick end to Saturday's fight.|
Better heal fast
|Ward is coming off shoulder surgery and more than a year of inactivity. The rust will be inevitable, and nobody knows whether this will take its toll during the fight. Expect the first few rounds to be complicated until Ward settles into his rhythm. Rodriguez will try to take advantage in those early rounds and Ward will have to be alert.|
|Ward faces a much rangier opponent, but this shouldn't be an obstacle for him to impose his fight plan. His self-confidence usually pays good dividends and puts his opponents on the defensive, especially when fighting at home.|
- Brian Campbell retweeted
- Brian Campbell retweeted