Andre Ward Earns his Respect
By John Raspanti at ringside for (May 20, 2009) Photo © Tom Casino /SHOWTIME  
As I ambled up the long walkway leading to the Oracle Arena I could faintly hear a familiar song as it drifted throughout the parking lot. The rhythm was recognizable but it was the words that stood out.

All I'm askin for is a little respect when you come home (just a little bit)
Baby (just a little bit)...when you get home (just a little bit)
R E S P E C T...find what it means to me...R E S P E C T...Yeah

Undefeated super middleweight Andre Ward was home and searching for that respect.

An Oakland native and winner of the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics, Ward's resume is pretty impressive. But still...some of the boxing fans I talked to seemed reluctant to give Andre his props.

"I don't know man; he hasn't proved anything in his other fights…"

This same refrain was repeated by others, Andre defiantly had something to prove.

So the theme was set as Ward took on the heavy hitting Edison Miranda. The fight was scheduled for 12 rounds but everyone from Ward's people to the boxing fans and Ward himself wanted a knock out. Miranda of course would have something to say about that like HE was going to knockout Ward in the 10th round.

Miranda was booed lustily as he entered the ring. Regardless of the doubters Ward's Oakland fans were out in mass. They gave him a thunderous cheer as he made his way to the ring and again as he was introduced. As the fighters listened to the referee's instructions Ward's height advantage was pretty obvious. Miranda's a burly bull of a guy with power in both hands especially his right. It looked like he was giving up maybe three inches to Ward who resembled a point guard from the NBA. When the fight started Ward made his point right way, by moving and sliding and out maneuvering the plodding Miranda. A head butt near the two minute mark seemed to effect Ward for a spell but he quickly recovered and went back to out working Miranda.

Another question about Ward was his chin. Was it strong and sturdy or tiny and glassy?

In the 2nd round he seemed to answer that question as Miranda nailed him flush with his right. Ward shook it off quickly and then turned southpaw, completely befuddling Miranda. Ward easily won the first four rounds with a combination of double left hooks and right leads. His height and reach were factors but it was boxing skill that was dominating the fight. In the 6th round Miranda again clocked Ward with his right and again a few seconds later but the gold medalist just looked at him.

Miranda was obviously frustrated, as Ward switched back and forth between southpaw and orthodox, circling and moving. The term is aggressive effectiveness, Miranda was aggressive but there was nothing very effective about his attack. Ward even stayed in the pocket and rumbled with Miranda beating him to the punch repeatedly. In the 8th round the fight was fought in the proverbial phone booth. Advantage Miranda right, not necessarily as Ward continued to slip and slide away from Miranda's shots. As the fight wore on it seemed the only thing lacking was a knockdown or a knockout. Ward stung Miranda with some beautiful left hooks as the crowd rocked and roared its approval but a knockdown was not forthcoming. Miranda continually shook his head and wandered back to his corner like a man lost at sea.

As the bell for the 12th round rang the crowd was unsure what to expect. Would Ward go for the knockout, or would he play it safe. Easy answer, he drilled Miranda to the body and then tried to move upstairs but Edison still had some firepower left. Ward felt that power as his back was near the ropes and that seemed to convince him to box smartly and hang on.

He did just that.

The scoring of the three judges were as follows...116-112 (not sure what HE was watching). The other two judges seemed to be watching the same fight as most of us, both scoring it 119-109. This Doghouse Boxing scribe had it at 118-110. All of course for the winner Andre Ward.

After the fight Ward talked about his victory.

"This is like a bittersweet victory; I'm happy and excited because the fans had such a good time. But I'm not 100 percent happy. The cut was never a factor. I knew I had to keep my cool. Miranda is an awkward guy...I would have liked to have stopped him."

Miranda's words revealed something more.

"I thought it was going to be easier...we fought a good fight. I don't feel cheated. Andre is the champion, I respect Andre.”

And there it was, Andre had earned his respect from his opponent and almost all who had watched him pass his most difficult test.

On the undercard, John Molina Jr. dispatched Frankie Archuleta in the 2nd round. The fight seemed to be stopped prematurely after Archuelta went down from a barrage of punches. A right hand had definitely hurt him but as he got up and shook his head the referee interrupted this move as a surrender. The official time was 2:06

US Olympian Shawn Estrada barely broke a sweat in stopping Cory Jones at the 1:31 mark.

Rico Ramos completely overwhelmed Trinidad Mendoza with flashy combinations. The referee stopped the one-sided affair in the 3rd round.

Karim Mayfield of San Francisco went right hand crazy on Roberta Valenzuela's stopping him in the 2nd round. Valenzuela's record (49 wins 46 loses) was debated before and after he fight...46 loses?

In the most entertaining preliminary fight, Mel Crossty and Jamie Rodriguez engaged in a spirited 4 round battle that was declared a draw. The crowd didn't like the decision but I thought it was a fair one.

The announced attendance was 7,818.

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