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Paul Smith has paid tribute to the skills of Andre Ward after his emphatic defeat at the hands of the lineal super-middleweight champion.

Ward, 31, returned from a 19-month absence from the ring with a ruthless ninth-round stoppage in Oakland and Smith, whose pre-fight preparations were disrupted by problems making the catchweight of 172lbs, was full of praise for his unbeaten opponent who inflicted the first broken nose of his career.

Smith said: "He's just a quality operator. I had my moments here and there but his class showed through in the end. He's unbeaten for a reason. He was quality.



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