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Andre Ward Day: Bika Proves Tough, Ward Proves Tougher

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Going into the third stage of the Super Six World Boxing Classic, Andre Ward faced a couple of trap scenarios.

  1. He didn't even "need" to win his fight. With a 2-0 start in the tournament, his ticket to the semifinals was already punched.
  2. He was supposed to face his friend, Andre Dirrell, who at this point looked like the only fighter in the tournament who could box with the former gold medal-winning Olympian.

But then Dirrell dropped out. Ward didn't have to fight, and he certainly didn't have to pick the tough opponent he did: Sakio Bika, a Cameroon-born former Olympian himself. Bika, now based in Australia, had given Joe Calzaghe one of the Welshman's toughest fights in an undefeated career, and was regarded as not just a powerful and dangerous fighter, but a hot-tempered guy who would gladly get dirty. Ward had shown the ability to rough it up himself in his previous two fights. A heated affair was expected, and delivered. In the end, Ward won again, and proved his brass by taking a hard fight for what many fighters would consider "no good reason."

From our recap:

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.