By Johnny Walker
In these days when it seems that super middleweight Andre “Son of God” Ward can do no wrong in the eyes of the American boxing media, often smiling brightly as he gives us his rundown of upcoming fights on HBO, it is interesting to get another perspective from someone who has actually been in the ring with him.
I’ll admit straight off that when it comes to Ward, I’m a non-believer. As a boxer, the guy uses elbows and head-butts as much as he uses jabs and power punches, and he seems very, very reluctant to fight anywhere other than his back yard in Oakland. And he still has to paper the house even there. Getting him to just come to Atlantic City for the Super Six final–where contrary to popular opinion (I was there) he merely edged Carl Froch by a couple rounds on an atypically bad night for Carl–seemed to be a major deal for the agoraphobic Ward.
On top of that, Ward is pretty boring to watch — I’d rather watch Wlad Klitschko on his most boring day than watch Ward systematically cut people up with elbows and headbutts until they are unable to go on and the doctor stops the fight. At least Wlad can always end a fight with one punch, so there is a bit of suspense at all times.
Plus, I’m sorry, there’s that nickname. I’ll admit I’m an atheist–and not just when it comes to Ward–and that nickname, the hubris of it, just really, really bugs me.
Apparently I’m not the only one who isn’t enamored of Andre Ward. In a recent interview, super-middleweight Mikkel Kessler of Denmark, who lost to Ward in a Super Six collision featuring head-butts and elbows galore by Ward, had this to say:
“Ward is clever … But he’s not a fighter, Kessler told Boxing News.
“Ward just doesn’t want to fight. Sometimes you should make rules against clinching. When I fought him in 2009 he clinched me 88 times. When we watched it on tape we actually counted. I tried to push him away but he’s clever at what he does. He’s a world champion of that. But I think he’s actually scared. He throws fast punches, light punches, and then holds you. It’s so boring. That’s why he has no fans. He’s not a big name and he likes to stay at home.
“Showtime had to do everything to help him because there were no other Americans who could win the Super Six [the super-middleweight series which Ward won after defeating Froch in the final in December 2011]. The ref was not on my side. When I got the cut they took me to the doc and he said: ‘We’re going to stop the fight.’ The cut was clear of my eyes but they still stopped it. I had just started to attack him and I got him in the corner but they got scared and called in the doctor.”
In other words, everything was set up for an American to win this tournament if at all possible, according to Kessler.
And now we have the spectacle of Ward, having dimissed the idea of actually leaving his own neighborhood to fight Froch in England, trying to dodge the other bigger names he could be fighting, like Montreal’s power merchant Adonis “Superman” Stevenson, in favor of household names like Dmitri Sartison or Caleb Truax.
I’d think the “Son of God” could do a little better than that. I’ll bet Showtime and HBO think so, too.
Then again, maybe Ward is more comfortable behind the microphone these days than in the ring.