WBA super middleweight world champion Andre Ward has made a triumphant return after a 14-month layoff, downing Edwin Rodriguez by unanimous decision in a showdown of unbeaten boxers. Judges awarded Ward the victory by scores of 118-106, 117-107, 116-108, boosting Ward's record to 27-0 while Rodriguez fell to 24-1. Saturday night's fight in Ontario was the first for Ward in 14 months, the longest break of his career after right shoulder surgery in January.
Ward had already been assured of keeping his World Boxing Association crown because Rodriguez failed to make weight, tipping the scales on Friday at 170 pounds, two pounds over the weight division limit.
"In my first world championship fight, there's no way I wouldn't make weight. I'm a professional," Ward said. "He didn't even try to make weight. He didn't come to win. He came to get lucky and hold and find a way to win.
"Boxing is a tough enough business not to have to put up with illegal blows. I don't mind if it's accidental, but I don't like when it's intentional illegal blows. [Referee] Jack [Reiss] put it right. He wants to win the lottery. Even when he's hurt he is still looking for that one punch so you have to be smart about it."
"Against a fighter like that, it's not always going to be a spectacular performance, but it's nice to be back after 14 months and it was a great performance.