Edwin Rodriguez does deserve an opportunity to fight for a world title in the super-middleweight ranks, but whether two small advantages are enough to spring the upset of the year through beating Andre Ward is up for debate.
The big question for Ward backers is how he will return to the ring after 14 months on the sidelines while he underwent shoulder surgery and obviously, it is not guaranteed that he will quite be his old self.
Meanwhile, Ward also has to concede a 5ins reach advantage, which may make it harder for him to get in range.
However, the WBA champion’s biggest strength is arguably his boxing brain, so even if his Plan A isn’t working to its original hope, Ward is likely to find an alternative.
Rodriguez is 6/1 to stretch his unbeaten career record to 25 bouts and it will be key that he uses his jab efficiently early on, especially while Ward gets back into the swing of things.
Ward is the 1/10 favourite, but this price isn’t the most exciting, while the 4/7 that the champion makes a successful defence on points doesn’t really entice either, even if this method has rung true in four of his last five bouts.
Instead, the 9/1 that Ward wins in the final three rounds does warrant closer inspection, not only because he stopped Chad Dawson in the 10th when last seen in the ring.
Rodriguez does have some weaknesses, in terms of this being his first step into elite company, through being a bit wild with his punching at times and occasionally losing some focus and should any of the latter pair surface against Ward, the champion won’t hesitate to take advantage.
Counter-punching on the back foot may be the approach that best serves Ward, with 20/1 perhaps worth a saver that he gets the stoppage in round 11.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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