Ward returns fine money to overweight Smith

Super middleweight champion Andre Ward’s return to the ring after a self-inflicted 19-month layoff could not have gone better on Saturday night. Paul Smith’s night could not have gone worse both in the ring and financially.

Ward, fighting in his hometown of Oakland, California (and in his first bout since signing with Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports), looked sharp, fast and powerful as he laid waste to England’s Smith, a former two-time super middleweight title challenger. Ward (28-0, 15 KOs) bloodied and beat on Smith (35-6, 20 KOs) until his corner threw in the towel during the ninth round.

Smith was due to earn $225,000, according to the California State Athletic Commission contract. However, because Smith was way over the 172-pound contract limit for the non-title fight -- he was 176.4 at Friday’s weigh-in -- he was fined 20 percent of his purse ($45,000), half of which went to Ward and half to the commission.

When the camps negotiated a Saturday morning weight check, they agreed that Smith would pay Ward an additional $5,000 per pound he was above 181 pounds. He was 184.4, costing him another $15,000, which meant the two fines had shrunk his purse to $165,000.

But Ward, who earned $2 million, showed the charitable kind of guy he is after the fight.

According to a source familiar with the transaction, Ward forgave the fines and gave all of the money he was due back to Smith -- $37,500. The commission kept its $22,500 share of Friday’s weigh-in fine. There are not many fighters who would do that.