“Showtime” Reggie Green fought “Irish” Micky Ward on October 1st, 1999 in a scheduled ten round bout. The fight was aired on ESPN2. I was looking forward to this fight for several weeks. On paper, it looked like a great match-up. The fight turned out to be even better.
Reggie Green was coming off a loss to WBA Light Welterweight Champion, Sharmba Mitchell. It was a very close fight and if I recall correctly, one of the few that revealed the score cards after each round. Looking to bounce right back into another title shot and avoiding be put in with a “soft” fighter, Reggie and his team chose to fight touch Micky Ward.
Micky Ward was entering this fight on a two fight win streak. His last lost being to up-and-comer Zab Judah. Micky didn’t have a pretty record, but he gave everyone a tough fight.
The fight started with Reggie throwing a lot of jabs and Micky countering with power punches. Green’s boxing skills looked very sharp in the first round. Though Micky is known for throwing body shots, it was Green who was throwing the majority of body shots in the first round, throwing several left hooks under Micky’s ribs.
Micky Ward does something I always tell boxers not to do; switch leads. Micky is a right-handed fighter who likes to switch into a southpaw (lefty) stance. Sometimes it works to his advantage. However, against Green, who went twelve championship rounds against a southpaw fighter, that would turn out to be be a mistake as Green catches Ward with a fast straight right near the beginning of round 2. It rocked Ward, but he was able to keep his hands up and block many of the combinations Green followed up with. Reggie was dominating the round and Micky knew it. Around this time Micky started using the counter-left hook whenever Reggie would throw a combination. Green tried to load up on a hook, but Ward connected first with a wide right hand, which wobbled Green. The final minute of round two were fought in close with both fighters throwing big hooks. Then Ward caught Green again with a wide right hand.
The third round was a give & take affair. Both throwing solid shots. Ward landing big hooks to Green’s body. With twenty seconds left in the round, Green lands a big land hook to Ward’s chin, which sends Ward into the ropes. If the ropes were not there, he would have gone down. To Ward’s credit, he found a way to stay on his feet, holding Green and smothering his punches. When he did let go of Green, Ward went reeling back from one neutral corner to the other. That shot by Green had him rocked. Reggie Green was trying to load up on big punches. Had he just stepped back and unleashed rapid fire combinations, he may have scored a knockdown. Ward was saved by the bell.
You think when round four started, Reggie would come out aggressively to score a stoppage on a still wobbly Micky Ward. Instead, Green came out cautiously, going back to his normal strategy of hitting and stepping off.
As the fight progressed, Reggie was slightly ahead due to his accurate, rapid-fire punching. He made Ward miss a lot, but Green fell for the Ward trap of fighting on the inside. As I mentioned earlier, Ward was landing big hooks as Green was finishing a combination and/or stepping back. I should note, if you’re a fan of body punching, then this is a fight for you as both of these combatants landed big shots to each other’s body. Neither of these fighters slowed down; a testament to how well-conditioned both of these fighters were for this fight.
In round ten, the final round, Micky must have known he was behind, because he came on very strong. Micky Ward stayed on the inside working Reggie Green’s body, catching him with counter-left hooks as Green stepped out. At a couple of points in the round, Ward had Green reeling into the ropes. Green tried valiantly to come back with some left hooks of his own, but it was not enough. While in the center of the ring, leaning forward on Ward, and with shaky knees, the referee stopped the fight with only thirty-three seconds left. I wouldn’t say the stoppage was uncalled for, but the manner in which the referee did it was… amateur. If you’re stopping the fight, odds are you’re trying to save one of the fighters from a beating, if so, GRAB the aggressor, don’t allow him to get any shots in. Instead, the referee just waltzes his way in between them, allowing Ward to land a big left hook that went right around him, landing on a vulnerable Green, sending him into the ropes.
Regardless of the wacky stoppage, had the fight gone the distance and the judges were honest, this should have been declared a draw. Reggie Green and Micky Ward fought one of the best fights of their lives the night of October 1st, 1999.