Boxing’s pound for pound best list has Floyd Mayweather, JR., sitting atop and rightfully so, but the number two spot should probably go to the man that will be in the ring on Saturday night, Andre Ward, 26-0, 14 KO’s. His style isn’t pretty but it has proven effective against the best that the 168 pound division can offer and it offered a lot.
Ward was an unknown until he jumped into the super middleweight tournament and overcame great fighters like Mikkel Kessler (TD-11), Arthur Abraham (UD-12), and Carl Froch (UD-12). He recently knocked out former light heavyweight kingpin, Chad Dawson (TKO-10) and seems to be improving on the pop in his shots. His style is a puzzle, much like the former heavyweight champion, John Ruiz, and nobody has been able to figure it out. He smothers and out-muscles his opponents, and eventually confuses them to the point where he can hit them flush and at will. Ward has never really seen anyone that could figure him out and he is fighting an undefeated and unproven challenger on Saturday in Edwin Rodriguez, 24-0, 16 KO’s, and it is unlikely that he will be the guy.
Rodriguez may or may not belong in the ring with Ward, but he has proven his worth outside of the ring, demanding random pre-fight drug testing, a demand that Ward has refused, raising speculation. Ward stated that the challenger will not dictate the terms, but some in the boxing world are starting to think that the freakishly strong Ward may have some help on the side as so many other elite fighters have had in the past, including Shane Mosley and James Toney.
Rodriguez will enter the ring with a puncher’s chance and he can match the size of Ward, which may make it interesting, but the class difference should tell the tale. Ward is an elite fighter. Rodriguez is a good fighter. That’s the difference and we can expect a wide UD and a frustrating night for the ambitious but overmatched challenger that made this fight more interesting with his pre-fight comments.