Shawn Porter Gives Andre Ward High Praise: “I Feel Like He’s A Goat But People Don’t Realize That”
By: Hans Themistode
Over the course of boxing history, the greatest of all-time debate will seemingly never end. Most fans have planted their feet in the dirt and taken the side of one fighter over the rest of the field. Amongst them, the names that are often mentioned in those conversations are the usual suspects such as Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, Ray Robinson, Roy Jones Jr. and a shortlist of others.
While former two-division world champion Shawn Porter agrees with those sentiments, the Cleveland Ohio native can’t help but scratch his head when the conversation is brought up. In no way, shape or form does he want to remove any of those previously mentioned names. Instead, he simply wants to add someone else to the mix.
“Andre Ward,” said Porter during his podcast The Porter Way Podcast Clips. “I feel like he’s a goat but people don’t realize that. This man has not lost a match since he was 12 years old.”
In the case of Ward, his boxing resume does seem to warrant his inclusion in the goat conversation. As an amateur, Ward dominated the competition to the tune of 115 wins against only five defeats. He easily crushed the field in the 2004 Olympics to bring home a gold medal and as a pro, Ward proved to be impossible to beat, winning every single one of his 32 career contests.
At one point, Ward was considered the consensus number one fighter in the world. After defeating former pound-for-pound star Sergey Kovalev in back-to-back fights, Ward abruptly walked away from the sport. He’s since left the door slightly open for a comeback but for the most part, he’s remained steadfast in his decision to walk away from the game.
This past year, Ward was rewarded for his boxing excellence with an induction into the Boxing Hall of Fame. But while Ward has always been universally respected and celebrated, Porter simply believes it isn’t enough.
“He was under looked and everybody expected this big blast when he came to the pro game and it really wasn’t a big blast and people started to really doubt what he could do. But after he won the super middleweight tournament, people started to recognize who he was. He went virtually his entire life without losing any matches.”
Shawn Porter Gives His Opinion On Canelo Alvarez vs Andre Ward: “I Think It’s A 50/50 Fight”
By: Hans Themistode
Despite Andre Ward hanging up his boxing gloves more than three years ago, fans have continued to hope and pray that he’ll wipe the dust off his boxing trunks and step into the ring one more time.
But while Ward officially retired after defeating Sergey Kovalev for the second time in 2017, many were hoping that he would stick around a bit longer to take on pound for pound star Canelo Alvarez. With Ward not only in impeccable shape but also only 37 years of age, fans have held on to a modicum of hope that he’ll end his abrupt retirement and take on Alvarez.
Joining most of the boxing world who are currently split down the middle on how things would shake out in that proposed matchup, is former two-time welterweight champion, Shawn Porter. As he sits down and breaks down the attributes of each fighter, he pointed out where each man would shine most if a fight actually came to fruition.
“I think now, Canelo is in the prime of his career,” said Porter on his podcast The Porter Way Podcast Clips. “I think getting into the ring with Andre Ward would cause him to be even greater than we’ve seen before. Canelo has unbelievable power, unbelievable speed and very good defense. I think Canelo has better power, I think their speed is relatively the same. Both guys have really good defense. I think it’s a 50/50 fight.”
For Alvarez, his ascension to the top of virtually every pound for pound list is a product of his notable wins in several weight classes. Although Porter acknowledges his achievements, he can’t help but look back at the one time he struggled mightily in the ring.
Nearly a decade ago, a much younger and less-seasoned Alvarez was outboxed and outsmarted in the ring against Floyd Mayweather. Regardless of one judge scoring their bout a draw, the remaining two judges scored their contest in favor of Mayweather.
On the night, Alvarez simply had no answers and lost virtually every round in the eyes of the public. While he’s improved considerably, Porter could envision a scenario in which history repeats itself.
“Before Canelo fought Floyd, he had never been in the ring with anyone like Floyd. We saw him have trouble and I can see the same thing happening with Dre. Floyd was the commander and chief in the ring and I can see the same thing with Andre Ward being the commander and chief in the ring against Canelo.”
Shakur Stevenson: “I Respect Canelo A lot, Andre (Ward) Would Be The Only Person I Would Say Right Now Could Beat Canelo”
By: Hans Themistode
Whether you hate or criticize Canelo Alvarez, the Mexican star is revered in the sport of boxing.
Although several fighters in or around his 168 pound weight class have attempted to chastise him, former WBO featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson has nothing but praise but for the pound-for-pound star.
“I’m a big Canelo fan,” said Stevenson during an interview with Fight Hype. “You’re not going to hear me say anything bad about Canelo.”
Stevenson’s refusal to throw any dirt on the name of Alvarez is due to the work he has done inside of the ring. With world titles in four different weight classes, Stevenson can’t help but get excited when describing the attributes and mentality of the unified super middleweight champion that makes him so special.
“Canelo goes up in weight and fights whoever, he goes back down in weight and fights whoever. He got real good skills and if we’re talking about the best defense in boxing, besides myself, I think Canelo is the best defensive fighter in boxing. Canelo uses a lot of waist movement. He knows how to make you miss with his waist. It’s a lot of good things that Canelo does as a fighter and I respect Canelo a lot.”
Alvarez, 30, is currently sitting in his presidential suite in a Miami hotel as he prepares to take on mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim at the Hard Rock Hotel. Many, if not all, are expecting Alvarez to have a quick and easy night before moving on to face WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders and possibly IBF belt holder Caleb Plant.
But while Stevenson respects every single fighter who steps into the ring, he doesn’t believe any of those aforementioned names will hand Alvarez a loss.
No, to the 23-year-old, you would have to be an all-time great to beat Alvarez. Ironically enough, Stevenson just so happens to be close friends with one.
“The only fighters that will beat Canelo is the special and different kind of fighters. If Andre Ward was still boxing, I would say Dre would beat Canelo. Dre knows boxing. Canelo wins these fights because he’s more knowledgeable then a lot of these other fighters but Dre is really knowledgeable too and a great fighter. Andre would be the only person I would say right now that could beat Canelo.”
Currently, Ward has shown little to no interest in lacing up the gloves again. After closing the chapter on his rivalry with Sergey Kovalev by knocking him out in the eighth round of their 2017 contest, Ward subsequently closed the door on his career as he retired immediately after.
With an unbeaten record through 32 fights, world titles in two divisions and several big wins, Ward was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2020.
Still, at the age of 37, Ward continues to stay in good shape and is constantly in the gym. Both fans and boxing pundits have reiterated that they would love to see him return to the ring to take on Alvarez. Stevenson is amongst that very group. However, the window on that mega showdown is closing and if Ward doesn’t take the opportunity soon, then Stevenson believes he should just leave it alone.
“Yea as of right now,” said Stevenson when asked if Ward would beat Alvarez currently. “But Dre can’t take too much years off. It would have to be like right at this moment.”
Andre Ward: “Retired Or Not, I Don’t Believe Any Fighter Can Beat Me”
By: Hans Themistode
The dust on his gloves has built up considerably. And the worn down boxing shoes are now as clean as can be.
With a second straight win over Sergey Kovalev roughly three and a half years ago, Ward was seemingly on top of the boxing world. There wasn’t a credible pound for pound list on planet earth that did not have the undefeated two-division world champion at the very top of it.
Yet, at the peak of his powers, Ward opted to walk away from the sport. Since leaving, other names have taken his place. But at just the age of 36, many believe if Ward truly wanted, he could return to the ring. Whether he would dominate, on the other hand, is another question entirely.
Still, even with all of the time that has passed by, and with fighters such as Canelo Alvarez, Artur Beterbiev and even Anthony Joshua making a name for themselves, Ward doesn’t flinch or hesitate in saying whether or not any of those names or anyone in the entire sport for that matter, would hand him the first defeat of his career.
“Let me put it like this,” said Ward during an interview with Max Kellerman. “I’m retired so I can’t really talk my talk and have the base in my voice like I use to when I was active. But, retired or not, I don’t believe any fighter can beat me and I’m just going to leave it there.”
At no point has Ward ever appeared unnerved in the ring. His brazen personality led to a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics, multiple world titles in the pros, of course, an undefeated record and recently, a trip to the Hall of Fame.
Those accomplishments, along with a never-ending self-belief, has convinced Ward that he will give himself the edge.
Regardless who he’s fighting.
“I’m a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I didn’t get to the Hall of Fame thinking that any fighter could beat me. I go into a fight with respect like okay this fighter has punching power, this fighter is a good boxer. You go in there with a healthy respect but, I don’t believe any fighter can beat me.”
Andre Ward Reveals Who He Would Target If He Did Return
By: Hans Themistode
It doesn’t seem like the questions surrounding his return will ever end. Mostly because of how surprising his retirement was in the first place.
For former multiple division champion Andre Ward, he’s fought the urge to enter the ring after officially hanging up the gloves following a decisive knockout win over Sergey Kovalev in 2017. For many boxers – the bright lights, screaming fans and just the overall warrior feel associated with the sport is too much to pass up on.
In the case of Ward however, he is completely content with his decision. With that being said, if, for some reason, he were to make one last return to the ring, there is only one fighter he would want to face.
“Anthony Joshua,” said Ward on the Ak and Barak Show.
For those trying to understand why Ward, a man who has never fought higher than 175 pounds during the course of his career, would face someone who routinely enters the ring over 250 pounds, the answer is an easy one.
“All or nothing,” said Ward.
While names such as Canelo Alvarez and even Artur Beterbiev would be more realistic options, Ward has always envisioned himself wearing the heavyweight crown. As a young kid, the Oakland native watched as Roy Jones Jr. took home titles similar to the ones Ward wore such as the light heavyweight and super middleweight crowns. The newly elected Hall of Famer also sat back and watched as Jones Jr. won the heavyweight title as well.
For Ward though, he never made the trek that high up in weight. Nevertheless, following his win over Kovalev, Ward entertained the idea of taking on Joshua. Those thoughts, of course, were never realized as Ward opted instead to retire from the sport all together.
While Ward admits that the urge to fight is still there, he has also openly expressed how happy and comfortable he is in retirement. Currently, Ward is a boxing analyst for ESPN. In holding that role, he has surveyed the entire boxing landscape, including, the heavyweight division.
Presently, Ward believes that both Joshua and Tyson Fury are at the top of the list in the land of the big man. At this moment in time, the two sides are hammering together a deal to bring forth the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 1999.
Picking from the two is a difficult ask. But if he had to choose a side, Ward has a feeling who will win their inevitable showdown.
“It’s Tyson Fury. Anything can happen, this is heavyweight boxing but right now? It’s Tyson Fury.”
Andre Ward Has No Issue With Canelo Alvarez Facing Avni Yildirim: “It’s Not Healthy To Face A Top Guy Fight In And Fight Out”
By: Hans Themistode
Despite facing countless former or current world champions, Canelo Alvarez heard the complaints of his boxing fans the moment he announced he would be taking on mandatory challenger Avni Yildirim on February 27th.
For the Mexican native, Yildirim will represent the first opponent Alvarez has faced since James Kirkland in 2015, who at no point in his career won a world title. Despite the arduous work schedule, fans expected a more prominent name for the 30-year-old to face.
While those from the outside continue to pile on, newly elected hall of famer in Andre Ward doesn’t have an issue with the upcoming opponent of Alvarez.
“I don’t think anybody should be upset,” explained Ward on the Ak and Barak Show. “That’s really the name of the game. I don’t care what your resume is, it’s not healthy to face a top guy fight in and fight out. You won’t last long and if you do, you’re going to have some issues when your career is over. It’s a chess game.”
For Alvarez, facing what many would consider a light touch is exactly how the script should go according to Ward. While the former multiple division champion prided himself on facing the best of the best during his career, Ward also took on several lesser opponents before gearing up to take on some of the biggest names associated with the sport.
In the case of Alvarez, he appears to be following that very blueprint. After defeating who many perceived to be the best fighter in the super middleweight division in Callum Smith, Alvarez will take on Yildirim before ultimately taking on WBO belt holder Billy Joe Saunders. Should things go according to plan, Alvarez could return to the ring for a third time in an attempt to fully unify the division against IBF titlist Caleb Plant. So while fans continue to moan and groan over his immediate opponent, Ward doesn’t understand what’s the big deal.
“You got to take a hard fight, maybe like a decent name like he just fought Callum Smith. Then you got to fight a mandatory. The mandatory is out of his hands so he’s got to satisfy that from the WBC. Then he’s got to face another good name in the sport like Billy Joe Saunders. I don’t have a problem with that at all.”
Andre Ward On Sergey Kovalev Positive Drug Test: “He’s Slipping And Guys Tend To Do Things Like That When They’re Trying To Hold On”
By: Hans Themistode
In no way shape or form was newly elected hall of famer Andre Ward calling Sergey Kovalev a perpetual cheater. However, with the vast majority of his life spent in the sport of boxing, Ward wasn’t exactly shocked when news broke of Kovalev testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.
Just a few short weeks ago, the former unified light heavyweight belt holder was busted for using synthetic testosterone. Kovalev’s actions immediately led to the cancelation of his January 30th, contest against rising contender Bektemir Melikuziev.
With boxing’s history books littered with numerous instances in which a perceived clean fighter was caught red-handed cheating, Ward simply chalks up this latest news as another black eye on the sport as a whole.
“I can’t say that I was surprised,” said Ward on The Ak & Barak Show. “That’s no indictment on Kovalev. You know, I’m not saying that I felt he was using something. But I’ve been in the game a long time, and it’s way bigger names than Kovalev that’s tested positive. So, I just know that that’s an option for guys.”
Ward, of course, knows Kovalev more than most after spending quite a bit of time with him in the ring. In September of 2016, Ward peeled himself up off the deck to win a highly debatable split decision. With most observers believing that Kovalev did more than enough to garner the victory, Ward ran things back with his man one more time. Any thoughts that Kovalev was the better fighter was immediately washed away as Ward won via eighth-round stoppage.
Since then, it’s been all downhill for Kovalev. The Russian native would suffer a seventh-round stoppage defeat at the hands of Eleider Alvarez before ultimately redeeming himself six months later. Recently, Kovalev was handed another defeat, this time at the hands of Canelo Alvarez.
At one point in time, Kovalev was considered the best light heavyweight in the division, as well as one of the best fighters in the world. Those days however, are long gone. Considering how far he’s fallen, Ward understands that Kovalev isn’t the fighter he once was which more than likely led to his decision to look for an unfair advantage.
“Do the math real quick, and you realize he’s getting older. He’s slipping and you know, guys tend to do things like that when they’re trying to hold on to a career. They know that, physically, they can’t match up with the young guys that they’re facing. So, I wasn’t surprised. It’s unfortunate.”
Andre Ward: The Mind Is Willing But The Body Is Not
By: Hans Themistode
Things ended perfectly. Maybe even too perfectly for Andre Ward.
The two-division world champion’s career played out like an on-screen blockbuster movie. It was your typical storyline, one which entailed the main character fighting through adversity early on, only to ride off into the sunset as the winner in the end. Those stories, more times than not, never actually happen. But in the case of Ward, that is exactly what took place.
The California native was talented as they come. Coming up through the amateur scene, everything that could be won, was won by Ward. United States Amateur middleweight champion in 2001, under 19 national champion in 2002, 2003 United States Amateur light heavyweight champion and a record of 115-5 which subsequently led to gold in the 2004 Olympics.
In short, Ward was not the face anyone wanted to see in the unpaid ranks. He may have been nearly unbeatable in the amateurs, but in the pros, he decided to remove the nearly precursor.
After winning the Super Six Series in 2011, there wasn’t a soul alive that didn’t believe Ward wasn’t on his way to all-time status. He was ranked the number one fighter in the super middleweight division and held a permanent spot on virtually everyone’s pound for pound list. He would go on to further cement his placement on said list with a one-sided beating over Chad Dawson in late 2012.
Ward quickly followed up that win with another one-sided showing. This time at the expense of Edwin Rodriguez. But while many of his fans couldn’t stop singing his praises and began playing fantasy matchmaker, Ward was having managerial issues behind the scenes.
Things were too easy for Ward in the ring, but outside of it, the future hall of famer was fighting a losing fight with promoter Dan Gossen. For years their relationship grew more and more contentious. Ward believed that Gossen was acting in bad faith. According to the California native, Gossen was never his sole promoter, yet he acted as if he was. Ward believed their partnership was split between Gossen and Co-Promoter Antonio Leonard. When Ward’s original contract expired, both parties put up the money, $275,000 apiece, in order to re-sign him.
The issues came along when Leonard was no longer in the loop in terms of payment. For Ward’s last contest in 2013 against Rodriguez, Leonard was never given a dime. Something that Ward grew acrimonious over.
For the better part of two years, Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) experienced something he never did in the ring. A loss. And several of them at that. From there, Ward’s career stalled out as he remained inactive.
With so much time on the sidelines, Ward would eventually resurface in 2015. And to the surprise of no one, he looked like his old dominant self. After wins over Paul Smith, Sullivan Barrera and Alexander Brand, Ward moved on to face Sergey Kovalev in 2016, winning an ambiguous decision before closing the chapter on their rivalry with an eighth-round stoppage in their immediate rematch.
Everything was seemingly falling into place for Ward. He was earning career-high paydays with each ring appearance and more importantly, he finally achieved number one pound for pound status on every credible list. An accomplishment he always hoped to have under his belt.
From there, everything was wide open for Ward. A matchup with newly-crowned undisputed Cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk was seemingly on the table. So was a brazen contest with heavyweight unified champion Anthony Joshua.
But before fans could predict which path Ward would go down, poof, he disappeared into a cloud of retirement dust in 2017.
“To the sport of boxing—I love you,” said Ward in a released statement. “You’ve been by my side since I was 10-years-old. You’ve taught me so much. You’ve humbled me. You’ve promoted me. I’ve sacrificed a lot for you, but you’ve given me more than I ever thought possible. You gave me a platform, made me a champion and helped me provide for my family. I am forever grateful to you. You and I will always be synonymous, connected at the hip. Thank you for all the wonderful people I’ve come in contact with because of you. I’ve made friends for life. As I walk away from the sport of boxing today, I leave at the top of your glorious mountain, which was always my vision and my dream. I did it. We did it.”
“From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has played a part in my journey. You know who you are. I could not have done this without you. I want to be clear—I am leaving because my body can no longer put up with the rigors of the sport and therefore my desire to fight is no longer there. If I cannot give my family, my team, and the fans everything that I have, then I should no longer be fighting. Above all, I give God the Glory, for allowing me to do what I’ve done, for as long as I have.”
Fans were left both shell shocked and apoplectic. But while his biggest supporters were confused as to why he would pack his bags and go in the prime of his career, Ward was leaving a trail of breadcrumbs as to why he abruptly left.
For starters, in Ward’s retirement statement, the two-division titlist claimed that he could “ no longer put up with the rigors of the sport.” From a fighter who was never a brawler and never got himself engulfed in wars, the term “rigors,” was perplexing. With that being said, Ward always claimed that fight night was easy, but the grueling training camps were difficult.
Still, at the age of 33 Ward was relatively young and appeared to have plenty of fights left under his belt. In his last two performances against Kovalev, Ward managed to pull in both victories, albeit he didn’t exactly look like his dominant self. After looking closely, there’s a good reason for that.
In 2016, Ward sought disability insurance, a common practice for most athletes to protect themselves should something go wrong. The insurer for Ward’s policy was Lloyd of London for a total amount of $6.3 million. The terms of their agreement ran from December 23rd of 2015 until December 23rd, 2016. In October of 2017, Ward filled out his disability insurance claim form stating he suffered a significant injury in October of 2016.
Over the course of several months, Ward provided documentation that he was in fact severely injured during the lead-up of his bout against Kovalev the first time around. His claim though, was denied as it was believed that he suffered from degenerative conditions and not one singular event which closed the door on his career.
Ward’s legal battle is still an ongoing one, but the once murky picture in which he retired is becoming more and more clear.
Like most retired fighters, Ward found himself in constant rumors regarding many of today’s great fighters. Most notably, Canelo Alvarez.
A bout with the aforementioned Alvarez would in all likelihood bring Ward a career-high payday. But despite the constant money bags thrown in his face, the California native revealed that his bank account was quite comfortable despite missing out on a cash deposit from Alvarez.
“I’m not coming out of retirement to fight Canelo Alvarez,” said Ward to Fight Hub TV several months ago. “There’s been a lot of talk — when that fight was signed and, obviously, since Canelo got the victory over Sergey Kovalev. My phone’s been blowing up nonstop. There’s been a lot of pressure from individuals in the business, entertainers, you name it, trying to pull me out and it’s just not something that I’m interested in doing.”
Admirable and true to his convictions, but also misleading. At no point did Ward claim that he couldn’t fight Alvarez or anyone else. He simply expounded that he wouldn’t.
Further complicating matters, was the man who stood in Ward’s corner for the entirety of his career in trainer Virgil Hunter. On several occasions, he was grilled about his man making a return to the ring to compete in what would be considered by most as the biggest fight in the sport. Not only did Hunter not shy away from the questions, but he also provided a scenario which would possibly allow that showdown to take place.
“I think he would consider it,” said Hunter during an interview with Boxing News several months ago. “It would have to get up to maybe $30-$40 million for me to even suggest to him that, ‘Look, you should take this fight. If they’ll give you a fight in between to prepare for this fight, you should take this fight. It’s money that not only sets you up for your immediate family, but you’re grandchildren and your great-grandchildren. So you should consider it.’ And I’d leave it at that.”
Again, no mention of Ward being physically unable to compete at the highest level.
In the end, Ward, unlike most fighters, seems content with his decision. He’s become one of the best boxing commentators in the sport over at ESPN. His bank account is overflowing and his place as one of the best to ever step foot inside of the ring was validated as he has appeared on the hall of fame ballot earlier this year.
He’s also just the 15th fighter to ever retire with a world title around his waist and no blemishes in the loss column.
With his recent election into the hall of fame, a smiling Ward will soon step up to the podium to receive his plaque with no limp in his step and no stutter in his speech. Thoughts of what would have happened had he faced off against the likes of Canelo Alvarez or Anthony Joshua will certainly engulf many conversations. And although he has always enjoyed proving that he will forever be the baddest man in the room, as his lawsuit would entail, maybe the desire to fight is still there, but he simply can’t anymore.
Demetrius Andrade Calls Out Andy Ruiz and Andre Ward
By: Hans Themistode
Demetrius Andrade was an interested observer on December 7th 2019. In one hand was a bag of popcorn as the fan in him sat back and enjoyed a boxing match. In the other, was a pen and paper as he jot down notes. After 12 uneventful rounds Andrade was left unimpressed and holding his chin.
The WBO Middleweight champion looked on as Andy Ruiz Jr. was virtually shutout by Anthony Joshua to lose his Heavyweight titles. Before his poor showing, Ruiz was on top of the world, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in boxing history when he stopped Joshua in the seventh round during their first contest.
That version of Ruiz would be difficult to deal with, but the one who showed up in the rematch is easy pickings for Andrade.
“I would fight Andy Ruiz,” said Andrade on ABBoxing during an interview. “Don’t train, don’t do anything, let’s fight. Give us the same excuse you gave when you fought Joshua the second time that you didn’t train. Give me that fight and I can beat him.”
Andrade has offered to move up in weight to take on big name opponents in the past. He recently went on record offering to jump up to the Super Middleweight division in order to take on WBO title holder Billy Joe Saunders. But a move to Heavyweight would be a completely different animal. To his credit, Andrade has always been praised for his skills and his heart. But that doesn’t mean he wants to jump into the ring with every and any of the big boys from the Heavyweight division.
“I’m not fighting Wilder. I don’t want to get hit with that shit bro. I would fight anybody in my weight class but if I’m going up to the Heavyweight division, I am only going to name the people that I think I can beat and I know I can beat that kid. I can beat Andy Ruiz, hands down.”
With world titles at both 154 and 160, Andrade, 32, is smack in the middle of his prime and would be favored against roughly anyone in his weight class. But a matchup with Ruiz would leave him at a major weight disadvantage. The former Heavyweight champion last tipped the scale at a grotesque 283 pounds. Over 120 pounds heavier than Andrade.
Big fight hunting has always been the name of the game for Andrade (29-0, 17 KOs). For years, he spent his time trying to get the likes of Canelo Alvarez and Jermall Charlo into the ring with him. But with both of those contests ostensibly not taking place, Andrade has turned his attention to not just Ruiz, but to another big name fighter. One that seldomly ever gets called out.
“If Andre Ward wants to get back in the ring I would fight him. I’ll beat him with my jab and my IQ. I’ve got way more speed than him, my feet work is way better than him, like he isn’t going to touch me.”
Andre Ward: Boxing’s Forgotten Champion
By Tyson Bruce
The rebirth of boxing on mainstream network television and the approaching superfight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao is bringing unprecedented coverage to the sport of boxing in our times. One fighter who seems curiously absent from the goldmine of media coverage, however, is arguably the sports most talented practitioner, Andre “Son of God” Ward.
After defeating some the toughest opposition in recent years, Ward has spent the last two years in a curious tailspin of near constant injuries, out the ring squabbles, and inactivity. Until his recent signing with boxing’s newest player, Roc Nation Sports, Ward was involved in a bitter contract dispute with promoter Dan Goossen, a case that went to court three times on a variety of different jurisdictional levels.
Each time, Goossen was deemed to be in the right, one of the rare times in boxing the majority of its notoriously jaded fan base actually sided with the promoter instead of the fighter.
Goossen’s untimely death in 2015, however, allowed Ward to seek new representation.
Despite his high profile public signing with Roc Nation (courtesy of figure head Jay-Z’s celebrity) he has yet to sign a contract for a comeback bout. Rumors are abounding over the struggle between HBO and Ward over opponent selection. Recently the opponent selected by Ward’s people Thomas Oosthuizen, a struggling fringe contender from South Africa, was deemed inadequate by HBO.
Ward’s outright refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of his contract led to him spending all of 2014 absent from the ring.
The “SOG’s” last performance was a foul-fest against top contender Edwin Rodriguez all the way back in November of 2013. Since that point, the public reaction to Ward’s perceived “diva” behavior has moved from scorn to utter indifference. It’s been so long since Ward has been in the ring that major boxing outlets like ESPN and The Ring (for what that’s worth) have removed him from the rankings for chronic inactivity.
Most boxing insiders appear to believe that Ward bears a great deal of responsibility for the wasteland that his career has become. However, is it possible that the public has always been a little too hard on Ward?
Ward’s path to success has been anything but conventional. Despite being the only American boxer to win a gold medal since 1996, Ward has constantly struggled for respect and recognition. Unlike many previous fighters, winning the gold medal didn’t lay a red carpet to riches and fame for Ward. After making a glitzy pro-debut on HBO, he was largely discarded by many in the boxing media.
Ward’s development happened on the back pages of the boxing world, where he honed his craft against a variety of journeymen and contenders with different assets and styles. Despite his low profile, Goossen somehow managed to maneuverer Ward into the ground-breaking “Super Six Championship” series on Showtime, a super-middleweight tourney where he was considered a massive underdog.
Despite having just twenty professional fights, Ward dominated tournament favourites Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch with an athletic superiority not seen since Floyd Mayweather. Ward capitalized on the victory by laying an absolutely clinical beating on then light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson.
Regardless of one’s personal feelings towards Ward’s personality or fighting style, one cannot deny the magnitude of his accomplishments. Ward has a Hall of Fame resume of victories, and he’s just 31 years of age.
Despite their vastly different personalities and temperament, Ward’s career greatly resembles that of Mayweather’s at a similar stage. Mayweather was a three-weight division world champion before he was twenty-eight and had been on the pound for pound list since his early twenties, yet before fighting Oscar De La Hoya the guy couldn’t sell out his living room. Mayweather, like Ward, struggled to tap into a boxing market that in North America is geared toward the Latino fan base.
In recent years, boxing promoters have utterly failed, for the most part, to engage with the African American market. After all, Mayweather only became a household name when he left Top Rank. Can Ward do the same thing? The move to Roc Nation, which as of yet has no track record of success in boxing, appears to be an attempt to engage with a wider cross section of fans because of Jay-Z’s success in the entertainment industry.
Ward shares almost no personality characteristics with Mayweather other than hubris, which they express in vastly different fashions. Ward isn’t going to “make it rain” or get arrested for domestic assault to draw attention to his fights. Ward must win people over the hard way: by beating the very best fighters out there. The truth of that statement makes his absence from the ring and contempt for the late Goossen all the more puzzling.
With boxing set to erupt in the next several months with a non-stop slate of events on a multitude of different platforms, Ward needs to set his ego aside and get into a boxing ring. If he does not, he runs the risk of reaching a level of obscurity that will be impossible to overcome.
Also, after so long away from the ring, how much longer can Ward go without fighting until his famous self-belief begins to give way to doubt and regret?
Lucian Bute vs. Carl Froch Set For May 26 In Nottingham
By Hans Olson
Lucian Bute said he was willing to do whatever it takes to be recognized as the best Super Middleweight in the world.
On May 26, Bute is doing just that when he hits the road to face former WBC champ Carl “The Cobra” Froch at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, confirming what was initially reported Wednesday by RDS.ca’s Francis Paquin.
“We really wanted to press forward with this fight,” said Bute’s promoter Jean Bedard in a news item that ran on Fight News Thursday. “We’ve been insistent, made some concessions, but it was important to realize this is a fight that Lucian, our fans and, our partners wanted. Also, I am convinced that Lucian will silence the critics. Lucian is showing great courage in agreeing to defend his title in enemy territory.”
If Bute were to lose, a clause in the contract calls for an immediate rematch in Montreal.
It had been rumored for weeks that Bute and Froch would eventually get made. In an interview with Boxing Insider last week, both Lucian and his trainer Stephan Larouche made it apparent that if they couldn’t get a fight with Andre Ward, they wanted the division’s next best available opponent.
That man is Carl Froch.
“This fight will allow us to rid ourselves of two things: that Lucian has never beaten anyone and he always fights with at home,” said Bedard Thursday afternoon during a conference call with the French media. “This is an extremely important step in his career. ”
Paquin also noted in his RDS.ca story Wednesday that, although there is no American television set for Bute vs. Froch (both Showtime and HBO passed on the fight), it’s a possibility that EPIX–a new cable player which has recently screened fights featuring heavyweights Vitali Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin–could buy the fight.
“What we want is a broadcaster who will be interested when the magnitude and excitement that the duel will generate is realized,” said Bedard.
For Lucian Bute, who celebrated his 32nd birthday this past Tuesday, it will be the greatest test of his career. He will attempt to defend his IBF Super Middleweight Championship for the tenth time, but it will only be the second time he’s defended it outside of Quebec, the first having been last summer’s fourth round knockout of Jean Paul Mendy in his native Romania.
For Froch, it will be the first fight he’s had at home since his October 2009 points victory over Andre Dirrell.
“We are delighted to have agreed to terms for what I believe will be the biggest night for British boxing in many years,” Froch’s promoter Eddie Hearn told ESPN.
“I have to respect Lucian and his team for agreeing to enter the lion’s den and face Carl in his hometown of Nottingham, but am fully confident that Carl can become a world champion again on this epic night.”
The winner of the fight will undoubtedly be eager to fight Andre Ward in the Fall.
The question is: if the winner is Bute, how eager will Andre Ward be?
(Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @hansolson)