Ward schools Miranda
Archuleta quits against Molina
Ringside by David Robinett
Photos by Armando Roldan
2004 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Andre “S.O.G.” Ward put on a clinic against hard-punching Columbian slugger Edison “Pantera” Miranda over twelve rounds in the main event Saturday night on a special edition of ShoBox: The Next Generation, televised from the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.
Ward, (19-0, 12 KOs), defending his NABO/NABF super middleweight title, used a diversity of styles to neutralize the power of Miranda, (32-4, 28 KOs), relying at times on his speed and movement to stay out of range but also mixing it up with Miranda on the inside, smothering the supposedly stronger man and landing short, accurate punches to the head and body. Ward, a natural southpaw who fights right-handed, also switched up his stance throughout the fight, further befuddling a surprisingly overmatched Miranda.
“I’m not going to say I didn’t feel any pressure [fighting in his hometown of Oakland],” explained Ward. “But I was so focused tonight and it showed in the ring. He hit me with a couple of good right hands but I wasn’t going anywhere.”
Ward entered the ring to a rousing ovation from the 7,818 fans in attendance, surely excited to see the hometown man but also excited for a significant fight in a region which has not seen many such events in the past. Ward started quickly in round one with several jabs but Miranda answered with his own jab followed by a lunging straight right hand that sent Ward backwards and off-balance. Miranda lunged forward again as Ward tried to recover his footing, leading to a clash of heads which caused a cut over Ward’s left eye. Miranda immediately targeted Ward’s left eye until Ward answered back with a two-handed combination to the body.
Miranda started as the aggressor in round two as Ward switched to a southpaw stance. Although Miranda landed several right hands in the round, Ward showed his class with several short combinations where he would land a right jab or lead right hook and then step to the side to follow with the left hand. Ward’s corner managed to stop the bleeding from his cut between rounds and it did not appear to be a factor through the remainder of the fight.
Ward continued to gain momentum in the middle rounds, switching stances and landing combinations on Miranda while using his hand speed and movement to avoid trading punches as the Columbian slugger resorted to headhunting, with little success. Ward explained after the fight that his movement and changing stances was part of his strategy.
“Edison doesn’t fight southpaws and we noticed he had some problems against fighters in a southpaw stance,” explained Ward. “The movement wasn’t excessive, it was necessary because Edison likes to get you in one spot so we tried to avoid that.”
Ward also showed his diversity by fighting for stretches on the inside, particularly in rounds seven and eight when Ward muscled Miranda into the ropes and put on a counterpunching clinic, landing hooks to Miranda’s body and an occasional uppercut as Miranda seemed unable to mount any sustained counterattack against Ward.
With the fight in hand, Ward appeared to step off the gas the last two rounds, content to dance away from Miranda and coast to the decision victory. By that point Miranda had the look of a defeated fighter and merely chased Ward around the ring, looking to land a big punch but not making any attempt to cut the ring off or attack Ward with any urgency. In a neutral venue the fans might have turned on Ward for taking the last couple of rounds off but the hometown fans continued to cheer as they sensed Ward’s big victory coming to fruition.
This was Ward’s most important victory to date, and afterwards he declared he was ready to fight “any champion with a belt”, though in particular he called out WBC Super Middleweight champion Carl Froch. Ward also talked more about fighting in his hometown.
“Seeing all these people here, it really touched me,” stated Ward. “It was just awesome and it gives me a sense of duty to continue to focus and bring a championship to this city.”
The judges scored the bout 119-109, 119-109, and a somewhat generous 116-112. In defeat Miranda was classy and paid his respects to Ward. “I thought it was going to be a lot easier,” said Miranda. “But Ward was a lot tougher than I expected. With the decision I don’t feel cheated. Andre is the champion and I have respect for him.”
Molina Forces Archuleta to Quit!
In the ShoBox co-feature, Southern California’s John Molina, Jr., (17-0, 13 KOs), won a bizarre second-round stoppage over the normally reliable Frankie Archuleta, (25-7-1, 14 KOs) in a scheduled eight-round junior lightweight bout.
Archuleta was actually beating the bigger Molina to the punch through the first round and a half, darting in and out and landing the shorter, crisper punches while ducking and weaving out of the way of several of Molina’s heavier punches. However, when Molina did land his punches the difference in strength between him and the former featherweight contender was noticeable.
Midway through the second round, Archuleta had his best moment of the fight with a straight right hand followed by a fast combination that backed Molina against the ropes, but Molina answered back shortly after with a vicious right hook to the body that seemed to take the wind of Archuleta as he slumped back against the ropes. Molina followed with a straight right hand that drove Archuleta into the corner and immediately jumped on Archuleta with several clubbing right hands that sent the smaller man down to the canvas, more from the pressure of the onslaught than any one punch.
Archuleta quickly rose with a grin on his face as he walked to the neutral corner, but as soon as he turned, Referee David Mendoza did not like what he saw on Archuleta’s face and called the fight off at 2:06 of the round, a decision that seemed premature at first.
Archuleta was neither hurt nor did he clearly signal to the referee that he wanted out, but it turned out to be the right decision as Archuleta did not indicate any objection to the stoppage and continued smiling as if he was ready to go home.
Crossty and Rodriguez Battle to a Draw
Preceding the ShoBox telecast, junior lightweights Mel Crossty, (3-0-1, 1 KO), and Jaime Rodriguez, (4-4-3, 2 KOs), fought to a spirited four-round majority draw, with one judge scoring the bout 39-37 for Crossty while the other two judges scored the bout 38-38. Crossty appeared to be the more skilled fighter, but Rodriguez was the busier of the two early on, stalking Crossty and landing the heavier punches. Crossty salvaged the draw with a dominant fourth round though, hurting Rodriguez on several occasions with his left hook even though he was unable to put the game Rodriguez on the canvas.
Olympian Estrada Rolls
In the evening’s opening bout, 2008 U.S. Olympian Shawn Estrada (6-0, 6 KOs), quickly disposed of late replacement Cory Jones, (5-6, 1 KO), at 1:31 of the first round in a scheduled four-round super middleweight contest. Jones, who weighed in one pound under the middleweight limit, was no match for the bigger, stronger Estrada, but started the bout aggressively, trying to pressure Estrada along the ropes. However Estrada calmly weathered the storm and then countered a looping right hand by Jones with shorter, crisper right hook of his own, high to the temple which dropped Jones onto the seat of his pants. After Jones rose on unsteady legs, Estrada pounced on him with several unanswered punches punctuated by another right hook that sent Jones slumping backwards through the ropes as the referee was jumping in to stop the fight. This was Estrada’s fifth opening round stoppage out of his six knockout wins.
Ramos Rolls Past Mendoza
Following the ShoBox telecast were two walkout bouts that both ended quickly. In the first bout, sharp looking youngster Rico Ramos (10-0, 6 KOs) toyed with human punching bag Trinidad Mendoza (24-21-2, 19 KOs) for two rounds before finishing him off at 1:42 of round three in a scheduled six-round super bantamweight bout.
Mendoza, who came into this fight sporting a remarkable 0-19 streak against fighters with at least one win, apparently was instructed to follow Ramos around the ring and let him punch him at will. Ramos, quickly making a name for himself in local circles for his impressive body work, did not get a chance to show off his vaunted body attack against Mendoza nor score any knockdowns, but finished his opponent with a powerful left hook, straight right hand combination that sent Mendoza reeling backwards and the referee jumping in to stop the carnage.
‘Hard Hitta’ Pounds Valenzuela!
Local prospect Karim “Hard Hitta” Mayfield, (9-0-1, 6 KOs), closed the show with a two-round beating of journeyman slugger Roberto Valenzuela, (49-47-2, 40 KOs), in a scheduled six-round junior middleweight bout.
Mayfield, a self-described budding fashion designer from across the bay in San Francisco, entered the ring looking dapper in a custom-designed gold and white robe. Valenzuela entered the ring with an astounding forty knockouts but from another time and against a lot of Mexican club fighters with winless records.
Once the bell rang, this fight went according to script, with the short and stocky headhunter Mayfield swinging for the fences against his taller, limited foe. There were no knockdowns in the bout but Mayfield buckled Valenzuela’s knees with a right hook to the body at the end of round one. Mayfield nearly sent Valenzuela to his knees again early in round two with a looping right hand, but Valenzuela was able to hang onto the ropes without the referee calling a knockdown.
However, the end came moments later as Mayfield landed several clubbing right hands with Valenzuela against the corner before the referee literally dragged Mayfield off to stop the fight at 1:12 of the round.
The six-bout card was promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with Leonard Productions, with the main event being presented in association with Seminole Warriors Boxing. At the post-fight press conference promoter Dan Goossen said he was pleased with the crowd and the reception for this event and promised to showcase Ward in Oakland again in the future.