Press Release: Following slightly more than a year's absence from the ring due to injury, 2004 U.S. Olympic gold medalist and current world super middleweight champion, Andre Ward returns to the ring against Edwin Rodriguez on Saturday, November 16th at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, CA. Ward (26-0, 13 KOs) will risk his title against the undefeated Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KOs) in a twelve rounder to be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing. Tickets will be available at the venue box office or online at www.AXS.com or by calling 888-929-7849 starting on Friday, September 27th.
Following last year's 10th-round destruction of then world light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in a super middleweight bout, on September 8, 2012, Ward was scheduled to take on [faded] former world middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik back in January. However, the bout had to be scrapped because Ward required surgery to an injured right shoulder, keeping Ward out of the ring for over 12 months.
With Ward's Super-Six Tournament demolition through the 168-pound division against the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Allan Green, Sakio Bika and Carl Froch, Ward now puts his attention towards Rodriguez.
"I'm excited to get back in the ring on November 16," stated the champion Ward. "The opponent is Edwin Rodriguez. He's a young, hungry, undefeated fighter who doesn't believe he can lose and it's my job to change his mind. I think he and his team feel like they are going to catch me slipping coming off of surgery and the layoff. I try to live like a champion. I stay in the gym, eat well, and don't abuse my body and this rest that I got was needed. I don't feel like the layoff will hurt me, I feel like it will help me. It allowed me to rest mentally and physically, and I want to show the fans on November 16 that I'm better than I was before I left."
So now the 29-year old Ward can't wait to make his return against the Dominican-born super middleweight, who now lives in Worcester, Mass. Having made a huge statement in his last bout stopping Denis Grachev in the first round in Monte Carlo, France
winning the "Monaco Million Dollar Super Four Tournament" - Rodriguez, 28, will be fighting for the first time in California. In his most recent outing, "La Bomba" handled Grachev from the opening bell. The normally durable Grachev went down twice in the first round and was taking further punishment when referee Stanley Christodoulou stepped in to stop the one-sided bout.
With the victory, the DiBella-promoted Rodriguez has propelled his name toward the top of the 168-pound division targeting Ward in the process.
"Vince Lombardi once said, 'Life's battles don't always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later, the man who wins is the man who thinks he can.' On November 16th, I know I will win," stated Edwin Rodriguez.
"I commend Andre Ward for accepting a huge challenge after an injury and layoff. On November 16th, he will wish he didn't when he gets La-Bombed by La Bomba," said longtime promoter Lou DiBella.
Ward probably summed it up best, "You have a young fighter in Edwin Rodriguez that feels like it's his time. You have a young veteran in myself that feels like it's still my time, and those ingredients will make for a blockbuster fight on November 16th on HBO."
All other bouts will be announced shortly. Doors open at 3 p.m. with the first undercard fight set at 3:15 p.m.
The event is promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with S.O.G. Promotions. The Ward-Rodriguez bout is presented in association with DiBella Entertainment and sponsored by Morongo Casino Resort Spa and the City of Ontario.