Andre Ward retains his WBA crown
By John J. Raspanti at ringside (Nov 28, 2010) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Rich Hundley III /SHOWTIME)
If winning ugly is effective, WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward was beautiful Saturday night retaining his title with a hard-fought twelve round decision over the very tough Sakio Bika.

The fight was fought at mostly close quarters, with Ward 23-0 (13) peppering Bika 28-5 (19) with a strong left jab followed by a snappy left hook. Bika attempted to counter the champion by timing him with an overhand right that rarely landed. The fight started slowly with Ward winning the first few rounds. Challenger Bika landed a right on the temple at the beginning of round three but paid for later when Ward stung him with a couple of hard lefts.

Ward sustained a cut above his left eye from a probable punch but still won the round. Later in the fight, he would sustain a cut over his right eye. In round four Ward appeared to score a knockdown that referee Dan Stell correctly ruled a slip. Near the end of the round, Ward clocked Bika with another left hook that staggered him, but the iron chinned Cameroon native recuperated quickly.

Ward controlled the action through rounds six, seven and eight by beating his foe to the punch and avoiding his overhand right. In round nine it was Bika’s turn to be cut courtesy of a Ward right that left a gash below the challenger’s left eye.

The last three rounds were more of the same, with Bika still trying to land the knockout punch, and Ward stepping inside and jolting him with some clean inside shots.

The anti-climatic decision had Ward winning all the twelve rounds on one judge’s card, and 118-110 on the other two.

Ward wasn’t thrilled with his performance. “I did what I had to do, but I have to watch the tape to watch what I did wrong and what I did right," Ward said. "I'm hard on myself. I want to look spectacular every time out, so I don't think I did so good. But we got the win, and I'm proud of that."

Ward might not have looked spectacular but he was in there with a very physical fighter, so the result was a rough and tough fight.

“Bika's and my style clash," Ward said. "We bumped heads, elbows – it is what it is – and we had to do what we had to do to win. I think every laceration that I have was literally a head butt or elbow – every single one of them, and I clearly remember each one, too."

To his credit, Bika wouldn’t quit. Ward knew Bika was tiring late in the fight, but he was still wary of his opponent’s punching power.

"It's a Catch-22," Ward said. "You can't just run in there and disregard defense. I wanted to keep my eyes on him, and I purposely stood in the pocket and let him throw wild shots and tried to counter. Sometimes I was more effective than other times. He was tired, but he'll put his head down and swing, so you have to be alert at all times."

Ward will next fight Arthur Abraham in the semi-final’s round of the Super Six tournament early next year. The venue will most likely be Las Vegas.

On the undercard:

Unheralded Khadaphi Proctor 7-5-1 upset previously undefeated Stan “The Man” Martyniouk 10-1 (1) by a unanimous six round decision. Proctor knocked Martyniouk down twice in the first round, and once in third. The Sacramento native rallied to win the last couple of rounds but the knockdowns were too much for him to overcome.

Javier Molina 5-0 (4) remained undefeated with a unanimous decision victory over Francisco Rios-Gil 11-13 (7).

Bantamweight Jonathan Alcantara 4-3-2 and Michael Ruiz Jr 6-0 (3) battled to a well-deserved draw. The fight was an entreating toe-to-toe affair with neither fighter giving up much ground.

Cruiserweight Cornelius “Da Beast” White overwhelmed Demetrius Davis 20-24-5 (8) by a first round stoppage. White staggered Davis early in the first round and floored him a couple of times later. Davis did entertain by throwing an abbreviated bolo punch before the end of the round.

Lightweight Roman Andreev 10-0 (7) looked impressive in winning a unanimous decision over Manuel Delcid in a fast six rounder. Andreev dominated with aggressiveness and overall punching power.

The last fight of the night saw featherweight Matt Villanueva 4-0 (4) paste Adrian Aleman 6-8-3 (4) from pillar to post until Aleman’s corner threw in the towel in the third round.

The announced crowd was 4,100.


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