Tuesday was Andre Ward Day in Oakland. Saturday on SHOWTIME, it was Andre Ward’s night. In a sterling performance in which he answered many questions about himself as a world-class fighter, Ward (19-0, 12 KOs) impressively pounded out a unanimous 12-round decision over Edison Miranda (32-4, 28 KOs) of Colombia in the main event of a special Saturday primetime edition of ShoBox: The New Generation.
In the ShoBox co-feature, unbeaten, up-and-coming junior lightweight John Molina Jr. (17-0, 13 KOs) of Covina, Calif., scored a second-round knockout over veteran Frankie Archuleta (25-7-1, 14 KOs) of Bernalillo, N.M.
The doubleheader at the Oracle Arena aired on SHOWTIME at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the west coast). It was promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with Leonard Productions. The Ward-Miranda bout was presented in association with Seminole Warriors Boxing.
Ward, a 2004 Olympic Games gold medalist, triumphed by the scores of 119-109 twice and 116-112, but the fight was not indicative of the 10-point spreads on the two scorecards: It was a rough, tough, hard-fought and competitive from start to finish.
With the victory, Ward retained his North American Boxing Organization (NABO) and North American Boxing Federation (NABF) super middleweight titles, but more importantly moved into the No. 1 spot in the World Boxing Council (WBC) 168-pound rankings, thus becoming the mandatory challenger to fellow unbeaten WBC champion Carl Froch.
Ward didn’t get a knockout but as far as homecomings go, it doesn’t get much better than this. With 7,818 hometown fans cheering him on, Ward, who effectively switched from orthodox to southpaw, delivered time and again against what was by far the most game, dangerous opponent of his career.
“This is kind of a bittersweet victory,’’ Ward said. “I am excited and happy for the fans, and there were a lot of them here. But I was not 100 percent happy with my performance. There are things I know I could have done better. But I think I showed tonight what kind of fighter I am and can be.
“I wanted to stop him, but I did what I had to do and that is the mark of a good fighter. He was an awkward guy with long arms but I knew I had to keep my cool, especially after the cut.’’
Ward was cut above the left eyebrow from an obvious headbutt about two minutes into the match. “My cutman did a great job,’’ Ward said. “It was never really a factor.’’
What’s next for Ward isn’t known, but if a Froch fight happens, Ward will be ready. “Hey, I’m No. 1. We’re both undefeated. Let’s get it on,’’ he said.
Miranda, whose previous losses came against world champions Arthur Abraham (twice) and Kelly Pavlik, came to win and never gave Ward an opportunity to relax. Miranda landed his fair share of solid shots, too, particularly in the bout’s first half.
“I thought it was going to be a lot easier but he was tougher than I expected,’’ Miranda said. “I came here fully expecting to win.
“But Andre was the better man. I don’t feel cheated by the decision. He is the champion. I have much respect for him.’’
Miranda did make good on his prediction of putting down Ward in the 10th round. Unfortunately, however, Ward hit the canvas from a push and not a punch.
“I felt a need to take Andre down in the 10th round,’’ Miranda said.
After a competitive first round in the evening’s co-feature, Molina dropped Archuleta with a flurry of punches in the second. The veteran beat the count and made it to his feet, but the referee stopped the fight.
“I’m a fan favorite and I really like to entertain,’’ Molina said, “but I was surprised he quit like he did. I knew I caught him good, and if the fight goes on he would have felt my pressure even more.
“I really wanted to put on a show for the fans here and those watching on SHOWTIME. But I can’t have heart for two guys.’’
SHOWTIME will replay Saturday’s telecast on Wednesday, May 20, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME TOO. It will be available ON DEMAND beginning Tuesday, May 19.
Nick Charles called Saturday’s action from ringside with boxing historian Steve Farhood serving as expert analyst. The executive producer of ShoBox is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.