Oakland stand up! He's back...
After a 19-month layoff, Andre Ward returned to the ring and completely outclassed Paul Smith for a ninth-round TKO victory at Oracle Arena in Oakland on Saturday night (June 20), as part of Roc Nation Sports' Throne Boxing's main event live on BET.
With newly-crowned NBA champion Stephen Curry leading him out to the ring and NFL star and good friend Marshawn Lynch on hand for support, Oakland's S.O.G. (Son of God) completely dominated England's Smith.
Having last fought in November 2013, Ward showed no signs of ring rust whatsoever, thoroughly owning his opponent, winning every round and landing punches at will. In total, Ward landed a ridiculous 231 punches to Smith's 47. A punishing boxing clinic.
Perhaps it was fitting that Ward was rocking Air Jordan 14 Ferrari sneakers because he looked every bit like a high-powered machine against Smith. By the start of the ninth round, Smith's face was a bloody mess and more flush punches prompted Smith's corner to throw in the towel at 1:46 into the round.
Ward looked like more of a polished boxer before the fight even began, though. That's because, Smith checked in overweight twice before the bout, weighing in at 176.4, which was over the 172-pound contract limit on Friday, and 184.4—over the 181 limit—Saturday morning. Smith had to fork over $15,000 of his earnings to Ward due to blowing weight.
Ward had been absent from the ring for 19 months by his own volition, badly trying to get out of his contract with promoter Dan Goosen. When Goosen died after an illness last September, Ward reached a settlement with the promoter's family to become a free agent.
Ward then signed with Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports in January, becoming the first high-profile boxer to do so. Miguel Cotto, who was present Saturday night to watch Ward, also signed with Roc Nation Sports in March.
It's looking good for Roc Nation's boxers thus far, with Cotto knocking out Daniel Geale two weeks ago and Ward defeating Smith on Saturday night. With the win, Ward, 31, improved to 28-0 (15 knockouts), putting boxing on high alert that he's back and still a force to be reckoned with.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and actor Michael B. Jordan were also in attendance at Oracle Arena for the fight, with Sway Calloway assuming hosting and ringside reporting duties for BET.
Roc Nation Sports' Throne Boxing card on BET also included an in-ring performance from rapper Nipsey Hussle, who delivered a high-energy set.
In the Throne Boxing undercard, Stephon Young and Antonio Nieves fought to an eight-round draw in junior featherweight action.
Elsewhere in boxing on Saturday night, Shawn Porter defeated Adrien Broner by unanimous decision (114-112, 115-111, 118-108) in a battle of two Ohio welterweights at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Broner, of Cincinnati, dropped Porter, representing Akron, within the first 20 seconds of the 12th round with a picture-perfect left hook...but it simply came too late. Porter dominated the bout, out-working his opponent by landing 149 total punches to Broner's 88.
Porter peppered Broner with flush rights and lefts straight to the chin with boxing champions past and present, such as Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Deontay Wilder, looking on. Broner was booed during several stretches of the fight for holding Porter and was even docked a point in the 11th round for holding.
With the victory, Porter improved his record to 26-1-1, while Broner fell to 30-2.
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(Photo: Alexis Cuarezma/Getty Images)