Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) will defend The Ring and WBA super middleweight belts against the 28-year-old Rodríguez (24-0, 16 KOs) on November 16 at Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, California.
A gold medalist as a light heavyweight at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Ward hasn’t fought since earning a 10th round TKO victory over “Bad” Chad Dawson in September 2012.
The sport’s second premier pound-for-pounder got injured two months after the Dawson (31-3, 17 KOs) scrap while preparing to battle retired titleholder Kelly Pavlik.
“The process of getting back to the ring has been like no other,” said Ward, 29, who underwent the knife on January 4 to fix a small tear in his right shoulder capsule. “I’ve had setbacks in almost ten years as a professional, but nothing like this. This was a major injury and it was grueling not just physically, but mentally.”
Planning to compete twice in 2014, the “Son Of God” contends he has recently become far more powerful.
“Edwin Rodriguez never looked our way and he thinks this is the right time to get me, but he’s wrong,” said Ward, the 2011 Ring Magazine fighter of the year. “I feel completely different and better, like I have a new arsenal. I have a lot of power in both hands.”
Meanwhile, the 28-year-old Rodríguez (24-0, 16 KOs) last vacated the squared circle in July after finishing Russian Denis Grachev in the first round.
Despite being an unbeaten contender, Rodríguez is best known for allegedly pounding Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev a few years ago during a sparring session.
Unfortunately for the fearless Dominican Republican, “La Bomba” is too reckless in the ring to threaten a brilliant tactician like Ward.
Although Ward has been shelved for an extended period, the Bay Area native will quickly adapt, readjust and outclass Rodríguez in “The Gateway to Southern California.”
With “a lot of power in both hands,” expect Andre Ward to knock Edwin Rodríguez onto Queer Street within 10 rounds roughly three weeks from this evening.by