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Andre Ward returned to the ring and comfortably stretched his unbeaten run to 27 professional fights with a unanimous points decision over Edwin Rodriguez on Saturday night.
The American Olympic gold medalist has been absent since his impressive September 2012 stoppage of former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson as he underwent surgery on a torn right rotator cuff.
A disagreement with promoter Dan Goosen and an inability to find a suitable opponent for his comeback fight delayed Ward further until it was decided on the unbeaten 28-year-old Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, who had already been ruled out of fighting for Ward’s title when he failed to make the required weight in Las Vegas on Friday, was outclassed throughout as the judges scored it 118-106, 117-107 and 116-108 in the champion’s favour.
Ward said: “It’s not always going to be a spectacular performance, but a win is a win. I felt like I did great (after) being off for 14 months, and I’m happy to be back.”
Ward will now be keeping an eye out to see if Britain’s Carl Froch can retain his WBA and IBF super-middleweight belts in his bout against George Groves in Manchester next Saturday as he has expressed a desire for a rematch in the future.
He told BoxNation ahead of the Rodriguez bout: “I think a fight with Froch is definitely something that could happen.
“I’ve said this so many times but I’m not chasing that fight. I won the last one hands down, and I would be secure moving on. But it’s something that he feels he wants to get another crack at and I’m open for that – absolutely.”