Andre Ward retained his WBA Super Middleweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Sakio Bika in a brutal, fairly ugly, but highly entertaining brawl at Oracle Arena in Oakland. The official scorecards decided it 120-108, 118-10 and 118-110 for Ward.
Heading into the fight the two boxers were considered cut from a similar somewhat dirty cloth. In boxing, a “dirty” fighter can come in a variety of forms. You’ve got the rather blatant Andrew “Foul Pole” Golota who had numerous in-ring meltdowns and had a bad habit of punching his opponents below the belt. Then you’ve got the slightly more subtle “dirty” nature of undefeated super middleweight champion Andre Ward. Ward will get away with a fair number of headbutts, rabbit bunches, and other technically illegal maneuvers. However, he seems to mix these maneuvers in with some highly skilled boxing that can cover it up a bit more.
Prior to tonight Andre Ward had generally been able to bully other fighters with these tactics and press his way to victory. Tonight he faced a fighter in Sakio Bika who was willing to get just as down and dirty. Bika took the fight to Ward early on and seemed to have Ward rattled in the opening rounds as the champion complained a fair amount about illegal hits.
Ward rebounded fairly quickly though and showed necessary poise in countering the dirty moves with some of his own. It quickly became apparent that each round was going to be a war inside. The two fighters appeared to spend more time clinched and trying to get in body punches than standing across from each other. Sometimes this can lead to an inherently boring fight but the action inside was fairly continuous and led to a fairly entertaining fight that could easily be classified as a bit of a brawl.
Over the course of the fight, Ward’s own natural abilities proved the difference. While Ward spend a good chunk of the fight in a bit of a defensive posture with his left hand he was able to land some nice shots and shook up Bika a couple times, most notably in the ninth round. He dominated late and was able to take home the decision.
If one looked at the official scorecards one would assume dominance by Ward. While he did seem to take control late, he rarely seemed to truly dominate the fight. The folks at Bad Left Hook had their own scorecard going during the fight and they scored it 116-112 for Ward. They seemed accepting of the 118-110 cards because of how close many of the rounds were. However, the 120-108 did seem to go a bit far given how competitive the fight was. I would imagine given how close the rounds were a judge could decide the champ had done just enough in each. However, to say that for 12 straight rounds is a bit hard to figure out.
Either way, Ward retained his super middleweight title and improves to 23-0. According to BLH’s fight recap, Ward is likely to face Arthur Abraham sometime in the spring in the next round of the World Boxing Classic. Abraham lost a unanimous decision to Carl Froch today but earned enough points thanks to his opening match knockout of Jermain Taylor which got him a bonus point.