Ward survives tough fight to win WBC title
February 14, 2007
by Michael Leonard
Cleveland -- For the third time, Northfield Village native Vonda Ward stepped in the ring with Martha Salazar and needed all she had to get past the hard-hitting Californian.
In the end, however, Ward survived the beating to add another belt to her collection.
Ward rallied in the late rounds Feb. 10 to secure a majority decision win over Salazar and claim the first ever women's heavyweight championship sanctioned by the World Boxing Council.
The third Ward-Salazar fight headlined a card at Cleveland State University's Wolstein Center.
Judges Earl Jewell and Mike Wick each gave Ward the fight 97-93, while judge Ellen Jones scored the fight even at 95-95.
Ward's record improved to 22-1, while Salazar fell to 11-4.
Ward admitted after the fight that she fought the bout with a broken right ankle and that bone chips in the ankle might force her to have surgery.
"At first, [the doctors] didn't want me to fight," Ward said. "There was no way I wasn't going to go for it. It hurt my mobility a bit, but I wasn't going to use it as an excuse. My gameplan was to stay outside and box her, and I tried to do that as much as I could."
Salazar was disappointed with the decision, and several members of her camp felt she had been robbed.
"For the third time, I beat her and they didn't give me the decision," Salazar said. "I think I'm going to retire unless someone beats Vonda for the belt. In this one, I beat for seven or eight rounds. I was blocking all her shots."
Salazar said Ward never hurt her, while claiming she had Ward wobbled several time. Ward said she never was hurt in the fight.
"There was nothing major," Ward said. "I've been training with men, and the guys have been hitting me harder in the gym the last few weeks.
"It's all about points," Ward added. "It's not about that one big shot. I felt a was scoring well throughout the bout."
Both fighters were returning to the ring after more than a year away from boxing. Ward weighed in for the bout at 182 pounds, above her normal fighting weight, but still well below Salazar's 234 pounds.
The early going of the fight played out much like their first two fights, with Ward throwing jabs to Salazar's head and Salazar throwing big overhand rights. In the second round, Ward seemed a bit more willing to mix in some power shots as Salazar seemed to have trouble finding the range.
Salazar may have had her best rounds in the third and fourth as she nearly found the range on her overhand right in third several times. Ward nailed an uppercut to Salazar's chin in the fourth, but Salazar would answer with a huge right at the end of the fourth, causing Ward to tie her up.
Both fighters exchanged heavy blows in the fifth, with Ward coming on with a barrage of jabs and straight rights late in the round.
Salazar landed a hard overhand right early in the sixth round, but looked to be tiring midway through the round. Ward seemed reluctant to throw in the sixth, but attacked a fading Salazar in the seventh. Ward scored her biggest punch of the night late in the seventh -- a right uppercut which forced Salazar into the ropes. Ward was throwing with abandon on Salazar as the round came to an end.
Ward appeared to have Salazar hurt in the eighth round as a mouse started to develop over Salazar's left eye, although Salazar claimed an elbow caused the bruise.
Ward dictated the pace of the final two rounds, scoring with frequent jabs to the head. Salazar's shots seems to become wilder and weaker as the fight continued.
The crowd of about 1,000 at the Wolstein Center exploded when Ward was announced as the winner. Ward was reduced to tears after the win as she paraded the WBC title belt around the ring.
Ward's manager, Ed King, said Ward has no concrete plans to fight in the near future, although he said he would like to set something up in conjunction with the NCAA Women's Final Four, set to come to Quicken Loans Arena April 1.
Phone: 330-688-0088 ext. 3113
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