Fittingly, it ended on the ropes, with Allan Green in a defensive position helplessly taking punches from a man he called an amateur and whose style he compared to a hummingbird.
Andre Ward pitched a shutout Saturday night at Oracle Arena before a crowd of 8,797, winning every round on the scorecards of all three judges by a score of 120-108 to retain his WBA super middleweight title and advance to the semifinals of the Super Six Boxing Classic.
For Ward to win his 22nd consecutive professional fight without a loss by unanimous decision was no surprise. The style the Oakland-based fighter used was a different story.
During the prefight hype, Virgil Hunter, the trainer for Ward, promised his fighter would "dissect and constrict" Green and give him "a venomous fight."
The constriction began in the third round, when Ward bulled Green into the ropes for nearly the entire three minutes, the start of a process that left his opponent weakened and decidedly less dangerous.
Ward got the better of fierce infighting and in so doing prevented Green from using his 4-inch reach advantage to gain any leverage.
His punches effectively muffled, Green succumbed and finished the evening with welts on the right side of his face and the second loss of his career against 29 wins.
Ward's next bout will be against Andre Dirrell in the third stage of the round-robin portion of the tournament, but he's already clinched a spot in the semifinals
Green's next fight will be against Kessler, and Green probably will need a knockout to advance to the semifinals.
The dates and times of the next round have not been determined.
Ward said he ditched his game plan when it became apparent Green had no answer for him in close quarters.
"We planned to go inside but not after the second round," Ward said. "But Green obliged me, and I thought, 'OK.' I expected a toughter fight, a different kind of fight."
The last time Green lost a fight, against Edison Miranda in 2007, he complained of stomach trouble and later had surgery that removed a portion of his colon. This time, Ward took his heart.
After being bullied by Ward for 12 rounds, Green blamed his training regimen.
"I had three training camps since December, and I found that it really drained me," Green said. "I stopped running three weeks ago because I felt so weak. I wasn't feeling my best. Andre Ward showed me a lot of things. I fought hard but not effectively."
He did not appear at the postfight news conference, with co-promoter Lou DiBella apologizing on behalf of Green, saying his fighter had been sent to the hospital and "got roughed up by the man to my right here."
Replied Ward: "You mean the hummingbird?"
About the only break in the steady roar of cheers for Ward came in the eighth round, when former Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell made his way to some floor seats.
Wearing sunglassess and a University of Alabama hat and jacket, Russell drew boos and catcalls — including taunts from one fan in a No. 55 Raiders jersey, the number worn by Rolando McClain, the Raiders' top pick in the April draft.
Ward, of course, was too busy to notice. He won the eighth round as he did all the others.
While Green offered up plenty of motivation in the form of disrespect while the bout was being promoted, Dirrell is a close friend and a slick boxer who presents a different challenge.
"It will be difficult to fight Andre Dirrell, but I'll rest and go from there," Ward said.
Promoter Dan Goossen hopes to get the Dirrell fight in Oakland, but his grand plan is to get Ward into the finals, open Oracle's upper bowl and "sell 18,000 seats."
In the preliminary bouts, Mark Tucker (14-0, seven knockouts) Eldersburg, Md., scored a unanimous decision over Billy Bailey (10-8) of Bakersfield, Steve Upsher Chambers (21-1-1, six knockouts) of Philadelphia won a unanimous eight-round decision over Hector Allatorre (16-10, five knockouts) of Sacramento and Alexander Podrezov (2-0) of Los Angeles won a majority decision over John Dunham (1-6-1) of Stockton.