Boxing’s best super middleweight, Andre Ward, returns to the ring this Saturday following a 14-month layoff, adamant he can take advantage of his opponent's all guns blazing approach.
The WBA super-middleweight world champion, who also holds The Ring Magazine equivalent, is set to make his eagerly anticipated return this weekend against the undefeated Edwin Rodriguez, after being out of action for over a year due to a shoulder injury.
Fighting in front of his native Californian crowd at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, the 29-year-old is out to show there is little in the way of ring rust and that the sparkle which saw him overcome Chad Dawson so comprehensively in his last outing, back in September 2012, very much remains.
He goes into the bout against the tricky Rodriguez knowing it’s not an easy assignment for his first fight back but intends to use his past experiences against similarly styled opponents to his advantage.
“We’re going to execute the gameplan and going to let it unfold, and if it unfolds the way it’s supposed to, he definitely can be stopped,” said Ward, speaking exclusively to BoxNation.
“He’s never been 12 rounds before and he makes a lot of mistakes. His eagerness is his strength but it’s also his weakness, similar to Froch. He doesn’t regard his defence, he’s reckless at times but if you’re reckless you can be caught out,” he said.
“Edwin’s a good fighter, he’s undefeated, he’s a hungry challenger but he’s also dealing with a hungry champion. So you’ve got to look at that side too. I’ve not just got to deal with him, he’s got to deal with me,” Ward said.
The 28-year-old Rodriguez, from the Dominican Republic, has built up a notable record with 24 wins from 24 fights with an impressive 16 stoppages.
It is not so much the record which concerns Ward, who himself remains undefeated, but rather his opponent’s desire to seize his chance under the spotlight.
“I don’t think its just being an undefeated fighter but the fact that it’s his opportunity. I had my opportunity in 2009, now it’s his chance and you can’t underestimate his mindset going into the fight,” Ward stated.
“But at the same time you’re not dealing with some guy, speaking of myself, who’s underestimating this kid or doesn’t know who he’s fighting. I’m well aware of Rodriguez’s strengths, and his weaknesses.
“At this level you want to take away your opponents strengths and expose their weaknesses and that’s what I’m planning on doing,” he said.
Ward’s return to the ring on BoxNation continues a majestic next couple of months for the channel which has secured the world’s biggest bouts live and exclusive all the way up until Christmas.
Featured over the next few weeks will be Manny Pacquiao against Brandon Rios, Dereck Chisora and Nathan Cleverly, as they take part in their respective bouts at the Copper Box Arena. Plus, Paulie Malignaggi vs. Zab Judah, Adrien Broner against Argentine axe man Marcos Maidana and many, many more big names.
Ward vs. Rodriguez is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546) from 2am this Sundaymorning. Visit www.boxnation.com to subscribe.