In Oakland, California, Andre Ward retained his super middleweight title with a twelve-round decision over "The Scorpion" Sakio Bika.
As many expected, this was an extremely dirty, yet entertaining, brawl with the majority of the fight taking place while the two fighters wrestled and jockeyed for position on the inside. While Ward had been able to bully his last couple opponents, he was unable to do so against the very strong Bika, who is well known for his own brutal tactics. Bika often looked the stronger man on the inside, and generally was the more active fighter, going 201 for 612 with his punches, although Ward was much more precise with his shots, landing 235 of the 398 punches he threw.
In the early rounds, Bika gave Ward a lot of problems. The two wrangled and wrestled on the inside, and while Ward is certainly no stranger to inside fighting, Bika forced a new dimension of toughness out of him that we hadn't seen before. Whenever one fighter pulled a dirty trick, the other soon retaliated. With tons of holding and hitting, rabbit punching, elbows, headbutts and hitting off the break, the referee mostly let the fight go on with its normal flow, choosing not to penalize the fighters. As the fight wore on, Ward began to take better control on the inside and look far more confident from the outside. Ward clearly won most of the rounds in the latter half of the fight, as Bika's workrate began to slow down and Ward continued to land at a more accurate pace. By the end of the fight, both men had multiple cuts and looked worse for wear.
Officially, the scores were very wide, with one judge inexcusably scoring it a shutout, and two others scoring the bout 118-110. Bad Left Hook officially scored the bout a close but very clear 115-113 for Ward, although the 118-110 scores were perfectly reasonable considering how close many of the rounds were. In any case, the official scores were not reflective of how close nearly every round in the first half of the fight was.
So now the first round of the Super Six is complete, and we know a lot more about Andre Ward now than we did a few fights ago. In his first bout against Mikkel Kessler, we learned that he could bully another fighter and use his versatility to befuddle a straightforward opponent. In his second bout against Allan Green, we learned that he won't let up or lose his concentration even when he has his opponent clearly outgunned. After this fight, easily the toughest of his career so far, we learned that Ward is able to maintain composure under pressure and make positive adjustments even when his opponent doesn't have an ounce of quit in him.
In the next round, assuming everything goes according to plan, we'll get to see Ward face Arthur Abraham. Let's see what we learn about him next time out.