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Andre Ward vs Edwin Rodriguez fight preview: Is Andre Ward boxing's next superstar?

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Tonight, Andre Ward returns to the ring for the first time in over a year to take on Edwin Rodriguez. Ward is being heavily hyped, but is he indeed boxing's next superstar? Fraser Coffeen breaks it down in this Bloody Elbow fight preview. Then join us tonight for Ward vs. Rodriguez live fight coverage.

Tom Shaw

Saturday November 16, Bloody Elbow presents live fight coverage of Andre Ward vs. Edwin Rodriguez, live on HBO. HBO World Championship Boxing Ward vs Rodriguez airs live this Saturday, November 16 with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET / PT. Bloody Elbow will have live fight coverage, including results and discussion, right here.

It has been over a year since Andre Ward last fought in a boxing ring. In that time, much has changed in the landscape of the sport. HBO and Showtime drew up their battle lines, with Top Rank and Golden Boy fighters now on either side of an uncrossable chasm. Floyd Mayweather clearly entered the closing stanzas of his career. Manny Pacquiao was knocked out cold, his own career also winding down.

And so now, as he gets ready to take on Edwin Rodriguez tonight, Ward finds himself in a very different position than when he last stepped in to the ring against Chad Dawson. He's now a pound for pound great, with only Mayweather consistently ranked above him. He's an analyst for HBO. And, if HBO gets their wish, he's the heir apparent to the Mayweather/Pacquiao throne.

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These lofty dreams from HBO have been made clear in their presentation of Ward, who is routinely hyped by the HBO commentary team, and whose "2 Days" video profile was lavish in its praise. Clearly, HBO thinks Ward can potentially be the man to carry them in the inevitable post-Pacquiao world.

There's good reason for the company to think that way. Ward is a well-spoken, likable figure. He has tremendous credentials, and shows no signs of slowing down. His more technical style makes him the kind of fighter who could stay on top for a long time to come - a contrast to the more explosive style of fellow HBO project Gennady Golovkin, who also has great things perhaps ahead of him, but whose action-packed style often leads to a faster career burn-out. With Ward, there's no sign of that burn-out yet, making him a good bet for the future.

The trouble with this bet is the unrealistic expectations it places on Andre Ward. Ward is a great boxer, but he's not the next Pacquaio or Mayweather. He lacks the in-ring flash of Pacquiao, the out-of-ring color of Mayweather. Few do have those traits - that's what made men like Mayweather and Pacquiao superstars - so Ward's shortcomings in these areas should not be seen as any knock on him. They simply are the reality of who Andre Ward is as a fighter.

If HBO is looking to Andre Ward to be the next in this line, they will be let down. They shouldn't be. Ward is a supremely talented fighter who can make talented men look amateurish, as he showed against Dawson. Expecting more from him is unfair, yet it's also inevitable in the boxing landscape Ward returns to tonight. How he navigates this complex landscape remains to be seen, but we'll get our first step on that path tonight.

Join us here at Bloody Elbow for HBO World Championship Boxing Ward vs. Rodriguez results, discussion, and live fight coverage this Saturday, November 16.

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