Andre Ward was the heavy favorite for a reason, and though the fight started off a bit more than a bit rough, Ward was never threatened tonight, easily beating Edwin Rodriguez by 12-round unanimous decision on HBO. Ward won on scores of 118-106, 117-107, and 116-108. BLH had it 118-106 for Ward, which was a shutout score tonight.
The fight got pretty clinchy and rough in close right away, and in the fourth round, with both guys wrestling and throwing, getting a little nasty, referee Jack Reiss stepped in the middle to try to separate the fighters, at which point he was clipped by a left hand from Rodriguez.
Reiss immediately sent both fighters to the corners, and told the ringside officials that he'd been hit and was taking a second to clear his head. When he got that part done, Reiss unleashed a tirade on both fighters and took two points from each man, which is why the shutout wasn't a 120-108 score tonight. He also suggested to the commission that the fighters each be fined, then warned them that he would disqualify them both if he had to do so, and that "no one will get paid."
From that point on, it was a fairly clean fight. Reiss may have gone a little overboard, but he definitely settled the fighters down.
For the most part, Ward (27-0, 14 KO) simply had his way with the outclassed Rodriguez (24-1, 16 KO). Rodriguez didn't make weight yesterday but didn't look particularly sluggish tonight, really, as the fight more or less played out as expected. Ward was too fast, too sharp, too skilled for Rodriguez, who had no advantages during the fight and never came close to making it a compelling night in the ring.
"No disrespect to Edwin, but on the one hand, he didn't really come to win," Ward told HBO's Max Kellerman, saying that Rodriguez "came to get lucky," and criticized Rodriguez for not just missing weight, but "not even trying to make weight."
When asked who he wanted to fight next, Ward didn't commit to any names or even mention any. Rodriguez left the ring immediately after the scores were announced, and was only shown walking backstage momentarily.
On the HBO reported CompuBox statistics, Ward landed 217 of 526 punches (41%), including 86 of 207 jabs (42%) and 131 of 319 power shots (41%). Rodriguez landed 85 of 389 total punches (22%), with just 19 of 117 jabs connecting (16%) and 66 of 272 power shots (24%).
On a final note, HBO Sports paid tribute tonight to Marc Payton, a director who is retiring after 30 years of service at the company. I won't pretend to know the ins and outs about Payton's job, but if you've seen the last 30 years of HBO boxing, you know what this man has seen from the truck and the kind of fights he's been in charge of from the technical side of the TV presentation. I'd say that's quite a career. Happy trails, Marc.