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PAUL SMITH took a drubbing in Oakland as Andre Ward, back after an 18-month hiatus, took aim and fired for nine one-sided rounds. The British underdog, who came in at a bizarre 176lbs for a fight contracted at 172, was rescued when his corner threw in the towel.

Ward was impressive in front of his hometown fans, slashing pain to his overweight rival’s head and body. Smith struggled to land anything – bar a clipping shot in the seventh – as the disparity in class became increasingly apparent.

The Englishman was brave under such accurate fire, but questions about his preparation will always overshadow his effort inside the ropes.

Round-by-round action