By Luis Sandoval
Andre Ward is finally set to make his return to the ring after being sidelined for a year due to a nagging shoulder injury that required surgery after his fight with Chad Dawson. It’s been a long road for Ward as his rehabilitation wasn’t easy but he’s finally back to 100%.
Normally a fighter in Ward’s situation would take a tune up fight to shake off the rust and test out the shoulder but instead he’s doing the opposite in taking on a fighter like Edwin Rodriguez. Rodriguez is fresh off winning a four man tournament in Monaco where he impressively defeated finalist Denis Grachev in merely one round and scored a nice six figure pay day to boot.
While it’s not an easy fight for Ward, he assures he knows exactly who he is getting in the ring with and even revealed he’s had his eye on Rodriguez for some time now.
“I saw Edwin in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago and it looks like he’s been enjoying his time off and he just got to camp. But we’ve been working. I don’t have to get off 20-25 pounds. And if they think I’m taking them lightly, that’s the furthest thing from the truth. I’ve been doing my homework on Edwin the past 2-3 years. I know about the sparring sessions with Cornelius White. I know about the weight issues in camp and wearing the plastic. I know about all that stuff because if I see a guy that’s remotely in my weight class and a guy I can potentially fight, I got my ear to what’s going on. I know about those things” said Ward.
Most fighters will tell you they refuse to watch any tape on their opponents and leave it up to their trainers to study film and come up with the game plan. It’s almost as if studying an opponent is a weakness of some sort and a fighter will never admit to it.
Ward on the other hand takes a different approach and probably the smarter one in studying his rival. BoxingScene asked Ward if he felt most guys who say they don’t watch their opponent are simply trying to be “too cool for school”.
“I think that is kind of too cool for school. Maybe [you don’t watch a fighter] early on when you’re fighting four rounders and six rounders but if you’re in a championship fight, why not watch the guy? Maybe some guys don’t but I think all fighters watch guys; at least a little film. They might not watch a lot of film but they watch enough film to know. You got to know who you’re getting in the ring with. Now, [Virgil] watches more film than me. I watch some and say ‘I got it’ and then he’ll keep watching. But I get to a certain point where I say I’ve seen what I need to see” Ward would tell BoxingScene.
Ward is fully focused on his return and getting back into the swing of things and defeating an undefeated contender like Rodriguez will do just that. If Rodriguez and his team are banking on the long layoff and surgery to play a role in the fight, Ward assures that won’t be the case.
“I know his team thinks they’re catching me slipping. They think they’re catching me off of a year layoff. They think it’s the right time to get me coming off the injury. And that’s good as it brings more intrigue to the fight and we’re going to see who is right November 16th.
You can follow Luis Sandoval on Twitter and Instagram @Truewest007.