On Thursday night, Andre Ward passed his toughest test as a professional by defeating Rubin Williams via TKO in the seventh round at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Ca. The fans in attendance watched the Olympian, a Bay area native, showcase the total package.
Ward worked well to the body in the first two rounds, switched to southpaw in the middle rounds and stepped in to throw butchering uppercuts and body punches on a seemingly defenseless Williams all night.
“I wanted to stay in his face,” Ward said. “We noticed that he likes to lay back and fight at a stale pace. I wanted to step up and get inside and make him work and it paid off.”
Boxing critics have kept a close eye on how Ward (15-0 10 KOs) would react against a much more seasoned opponent in Williams (29-4). However, the 24-year old barely had a scratch on his face at the sound of the final bell. Meanwhile, Williams was sporting a nasty gash over his right eye throughout most of the fight caused by an accidental head butt.
With about 10 seconds to go in the seventh round and Williams nearly out on his feet, the referee broke up the combatants and asked the ring doctor to take a look at Williams’ eye to the dismay of the crowd. The cut was blurring Williams’ vision therefore the doctor ruled that it was too severe to continue and the fight was called with just five seconds left in the frame.
Andre’s long time trainer Virgil Hunter was satisfied with the Olympian’s performance. Hunter said, “Being that this was his first test against his first veteran opponent that has been there and done that, I would have to give him an A+. He controlled the fight and never let go. So, you have to give him an A +.”
Dan Goossen echoed Hunter’s impressions of the fight. “No one has ever controlled Rubin Williams like this, not even Jeff lacy, Allan Green, or Antwun Echols. You saw Andre and there was no fear there. He wanted to take control from the get go. I couldn’t have asked for anything better."
Dan Goossen had this to add about Andre’s potential stardom.
“Look after tonight’s performance I could see that Andre could hang with anyone, there is no one he cannot compete with. But I still think he needs about three or four more fights.”
With every fight, Goossen has made it clear that he wants Ward to have a step up in competition.
“We want to get him in there again in June,” Goossen said. “We already tried to make Peter Manfredo, and Jean Pascal happen and that’s not going to work out. So those are the type of guys we are looking for. There is not much more in the 168 division except the champions. So, right now we are going to get him the best fight we could get him but keep him busy.”
When asked if switching to southpaw was a part of his plan during training, Ward said, “Honestly, it wasn’t I wanted to wow myself tonight, this was one of those instances. Switching to southpaw came with the flow of the fight, he threw a punch that and I reacted by switching my stance. But it was effective. The uppercuts were apart of the plan though.”
Andre also gave his own assessment of the fight. “I am satisfied. I trained very hard for this fight. Overall I can’t be mad at this performance. The guy was very tough. But I got a lot more work to do. I am heading in the right direction.”
In an entertaining 6 round semi main event, Karim Mayfield (6-0 5 KOs) won a close split decision over Francisco Santana (8-1 4 KOs.) The scores were read 58-56, 58-56, 56-58, for Mayfield. Karim controlled the first couple of rounds but got tagged with a left hook in round 3 that nearly knocked him down. Santana put the pressure on in the 4th and 5th. But Mayfield turned it on in the final round and was ripping Santana with overhand rights to seal the victory.
Carina Moreno (16-5) had a good night on Thursday. Not only did she defeat Mayela Perez (7-6) to retain her IFBA Light Flyweight Title, Moreno also won an additional $500 bonus for becoming the “YOU BE THE JUDGE” winner. “YOU BE THE JUDGE,” is a contest created by Goossen Tutor Promotions to give an additional reward to the most exciting 4 round fighter of the evening. The judges of the event are the fans in the arena. In order to qualify, the fighter must first win their fight, and then receive the most votes, via decibels, from crowd. The presentation takes place right before the main event. Moreno beat out 3 other winners and received a large trophy in addition to her $500. She also earned the right to automatically be placed on the next fight card in San Jose that takes place in June.
Many of the fans sensed the fact that the 4 round fighters were pushing themselves to the limit. Winning a competition like “YOU BE THE JUDGE” can give a young athlete instant fame, to a degree, and credibility.
Who wins the WBO Middleweight title fight Dec. 19th?