Rested, Not Rusted, Ward Routs Rodriguez

by Eric Raskin

Andre Ward - Photo Credit: Will Hart (Click for Slideshow)

Andre Ward is not ranked first on any pound-for-pound lists at the moment. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t the best fighter in the world. It just means he doesn’t have the track record, visibility, or activity this year of Floyd Mayweather. But to watch both undefeated boxers’ last couple of fights, you’d be hard pressed to separate them, to point to one as clearly superior to the other. Ward is that good.

Edwin Rodriguez, a bigger, harder punching, undefeated contender, discovered that first-hand on Saturday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, California, where the lineal super middleweight champ Ward had the crowd ooh-ing and aah-ing with every flush punch, of which there were plenty. In his return to the ring after surgery on his right shoulder and a 14-month layoff, Ward was as masterful as ever, shutting down Rodriguez’s theoretically dangerous offense and, if not for some aggressive refereeing and dubious judging, shutting him out as well. The official final tallies were 118-106, 117-107, and 116-108.

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Mike Tyson to Co-Host Saturday Night on HBO

One of boxing’s biggest names, Mike Tyson, returns to HBO this Saturday with the network debut of HBO Films' 'Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,' the one-man stage show directed by legendary filmmaker Spike Lee.  The film premieres Saturday, November 16 at 8:00 PM ET/PT, followed by an all-new episode of '24/7 Pacquiao/Rios' at 9:30 PM  and a World Championship Boxing super middleweight title showdown at 10:00 PM.

In addition to starring in his eponymous special, Tyson will also serve as co-host with HBO broadcaster Jim Lampley for the network's slate of entertainment and boxing programming on Saturday night. The pair will introduce the evening's programming lineup, with Tyson providing his inimitable candor.

Leading up to the debut of Tyson’s film, HBO Boxing insider Eric Raskin chronicled the highs and lows of Tyson's career in the ring.

On World Championship Boxing, Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), one of the sport’s premier fighters, returns to the ring after more than a year versus fast-rising super middleweight challenger Edwin Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KOs), 28, of Worcester, Mass.  Lampley will be joined ringside by Max Kellerman and Roy Jones Jr. to call the bout, while Tyson will join with a guest interview appearance.

Watch a preview of 'Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,' and follow HBO Boxing on Twitter and Facebook for updates throughout the night.

CompuBox Analysis: Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez

by CompuBox

If ever there was a word to describe Andre Ward inside a boxing ring, it would be "dominant."

Every fight recap over the past few years has included that word. It was the case when he blasted out Chad Dawson in 10 rounds and when he defeated Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allan Green and Mikkel Kessler during his run to the Super Six championship. Heck, Ward hasn't lost a fight of any kind since he was a pre-teen.

Another word that can describe Ward, at least as of late, is "inactive." Injuries and promotional issues have limited Ward to just one fight since December 2011 and he is coming off his second consecutive career-long layoff, this time 14 months. At age 29 he is at the later stages of his prime but one has to wonder what all the time off has done to his considerable skills.

If anyone can help conjure an answer, it is Edwin Rodriguez. Rodriguez is a hungry, ambitious volume-punching specialist who carries a 24-0 (16 KO) record and a million-dollar check following his one-round blowout of Denis Grachev in July. The Dominican bomber is eager to prove that he is among the best fighters in one of boxing's best divisions.

Statistical factors that may shape the outcome include: 

Read the Complete CompuBox Analysis: Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez on HBO.com.

Ward Sees Himself in Rising Young Opponent

by Nat Gottlieb

Four years ago an unbeaten boxer and Olympic Gold medalist who was largely untested as a pro stepped into the ring with one of the world's best super middleweights. When he left that ring, having stunned Mikkel Kessler, Andre Ward was on his way to becoming one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

Now, three months away from his 30th birthday, Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) will find himself in the ring on Nov. 16 with Edwin Rodriguez for a fight with more than a little déjà vu attached to it. In Rodriguez, Ward will be looking across the ring at a mirror image of himself at 25: an unbeaten young boxer who is untested at the elite level. 

Read the complete Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez fight overview at HBO.com

Rodriguez Keeps Rolling, Unlike The Other Unbeatens

by Eric Raskin

Jason Escalera, Edwin Rodriguez - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

Four fighters entered Saturday night’s Boxing After Dark tripleheader with undefeated records. Only Edwin Rodriguez escaped with his intact.

When earlier in the day Rodriguez’s twins Edwin Jr. and Serena blew out the candles on their sixth birthday cake, they must have closed their eyes and wished for an easy night’s work for their dad at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods in Connecticut. Though opponent Jason Escalera entered the ring with a zero at the end of his record just like Rodriguez, his perfection was an illusion born of soft matchmaking. “La Bomba’s” superior pedigree showed from the start of the scheduled 10-round super middleweight bout, and though he didn’t produce the quick knockout he hinted at during a lopsided opening round, Rodriguez gave the supportive New England crowd what they came to see when he compelled referee Steve Smoger to stop the contest 12 seconds into the eighth round.

In so doing, Rodriguez avoided the fate that befell previously unbeaten welterweight Alex Perez and junior feather Luis Orlando Del Valle earlier in the evening.

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Compubox Analysis: Del Valle-Darchinyan

by CompuBox

Few venues in sport expose the truth like a boxing ring. Once the gloves are put on and the opening bell rings, all the pretense and pre-fight hype melts away and all that is left is what "is."

Saturday night's fight between Luis Del Valle and Vic Darchinyan promises to reveal what "is" for both. For Del Valle it is his first fight against a two-division titlist and a onetime pound-for-pound entrant. Are his skills good enough to repel a 37-year-old veteran with 16 "major" title fights under his belt? For Darchinyan, who has lost three out of his last five, he'll find out whether he still has what it takes to remain among the elite and to turn back a young buck who wants to go where he has already been.

Which version of what "is" will emerge Saturday? Their respective CompuBox profiles will gauge which reality is closer to being real.

See more Compubox analysis of Edwin-Escalera and Del Valle-Darchinyan on HBO.com.

A Reformed Brawler Tries to Out-Box His Old Ways in This Stacked Triple-Header

by Nat Gottlieb

A year ago Edwin Rodriguez and Jason Escalera would have made perfect dance partners. Both liked to brawl, neither ever backed down, and they didn’t mind getting dinged up in the process. They were warriors in the “Thunderdome” mold: two men enter, one man leaves.

But a funny thing happened to alpha-warrior Rodriguez on the road to his showdown fight on September 29 with Escalera in a loaded HBO tripleheader. Rodriguez made a pit stop in Houston to get his engine and body worked on and his brain re-wired by trainer Ronnie Shields. What came out of the garage was not a souped up-Dodge Ram, but a sleek Corvette with a lot of muscle under the hood and graceful finesse.

“When I first got Edwin,” Shields says, “he was throwing punches, wild and crazy punches. When he threw his combos, he was off balance. He had like zero defense. We retooled everything.”

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Looking Ahead to HBO’s Fall Schedule

by Kieran Mulvaney

We know. It’s been a quiet month. But with the Olympics behind us and summer soon segueing into fall, HBO’s Boxing schedule is filling up fast. The network has four cards confirmed for September and one already in place for October, with the promise of plenty more to come.

Here’s a brief guide to what’s on tap: 

 

Gennady Golovkin

September 1

Gennady Golovkin vs Grzegorz Proska, HBO Boxing After Dark

If you haven’t seen Golovkin fight before, you’re in for a treat. The German-based, Kazakh-born middleweight is a wrecking ball of a fighter, with 20 knockouts from his 23 professional wins. He won silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics, and as an amateur defeated the likes of Andre Dirrell, Lucian Bute and Andy Lee. He defends his middleweight title against once-beaten European champion Gzegorz Proska in what promises to be an exciting match-up.

 

 

Chad Dawson - Photo Credit: Will Hart

September 8
Andre Ward vs Chad Dawson, HBO World Championship Boxing

Dawson is coming off arguably the best performance of his career, a convincing points win over future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins. Can the light heavyweight champion be as effective against highly-rated super middleweight champion Andre Ward? Also on the card, lightweight title action featuring Antonio DeMarco, fresh from his spectacular win over Jorge Linares, defending against John Molina Jr; and, from Germany, Vitali Klitschko defends his heavyweight belt against unbeaten Manuel Charr.

 

Sergio Martinez - Photo Credit: Will Hart

September 15
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs Sergio Martinez, HBO PPV

Argentina’s Martinez, widely recognized as the best middleweight in the world, collides with hugely popular WBC titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez in a battle that fans have been eagerly anticipating for well over a year. Martinez has stopped his last four opponents, while the undefeated Chavez has become one of the most exciting fighters in the game. A year and a half ago, most would have considered this a mismatch in favor of Martinez, but with the younger, bigger Chavez improving under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, this has become a pick’ em fight.

 

Edwin Rodriguez

September 29
Edwin Rodriguez vs Jason Escalera, HBO Boxing After Dark

It’s a battle of unbeatens as boxer-puncher Rodriguez looks to move into the world-title picture at super middleweight, and Escalera, who has 12 KOs among his 13 wins, aims to stop him. The fight is the main event of a three-bout card from Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.

 

 

 

Nonito Donaire - Photo Credit: Will Hart

October 13
Nonito Donaire vs Toshiaki Nishioka, HBO Boxing After Dark

It’s difficult to know which fight to be more excited about: charismatic budding superstar Donaire taking on the daunting challenge of Japan’s Nishioka, who recently defeated Rafael Marquez, in a super bantamweight title fight; or the co-main event, which pits Brandon Rios against Mike Alvarado in a junior welterweight contest that, given both men’s all-action styles, is already being looked at a possible fight of the year candidate.

 

Which of these are you most looking forward to? Let us know on the HBO Boxing Facebook page or on Twitter at @HBOBoxing. Let the countdown to September begin …