Andre Ward, Still As Good As Ever
Andre Ward, Still As Good As Ever
Once the dust settled on Saturday night, not many people used the words ‘I told you so.’ Because virtually everybody rightly predicted who the victor would be.
This is no slight on Paul Smith’s boxing skill-set, rather it is simply testament to how magnificent Andre Ward is as an in-ring performer.
He reminds me of a classic Russian chess-master, such is his unlimited capacity to dominate come fight night.
Some people tried to play up Andre Ward’s ‘absence’ from the ring. Great emphasis was put on his ‘nineteen months out’ as well as the fact he had only fought ‘six times in five years.’
Foolishly these pundits forgot to realise that Ward lives and breathes the sport of which he excels at. Just because he has been inactive on a competitive plain, does not mean he was completely ‘absent’ from the ring.
With the motivation he possesses, training and involvement in boxing dominated his existence during the whole difficult period.
As is well documented Andre’s most recent defeat came before his thirteenth birthday. Meaning he has not only gone through his professional career unblemished, but also a large proportion of his amateur campaign.
Evidently, this tell us that this man can adapt to anything. His strong faith also contributes to his resilience in the ring. When one feels fresh and positive every day, the most mundane tasks can be bearable.
This is basically what Ward demonstrates through his language. I’m struggling to think of any professional boxer who has lived to Andre’s high standards outside of the ring.
Whilst Mayweather claims not to drink, he has nonetheless been in serious trouble with the law. Likewise even former icons such as Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard suffered in their personal lives; either through issues with authority or because of substance abuse.
And make no mistake these issues hindered them in the ring, curbing their longevity. Andre Ward is a devout family man and refuses to be drawn to alcohol, women and parties.
Right there is one element which explains his boxing mastery. Of course, he has had contractual issues in the past but that has nothing to do with his lifestyle choices.
It just stemmed from a professional disagreement with his promoter, even then he opted not to criticise Goossen publicly. All in all Andre handled the situation with the utmost dignity.
Because he lives to train and thoroughly engages with his family in addition to his church, his potential undoing in the ring will not be because of any outside forces.
Despite being inactive, Ward has already defeated the top names at 168. Froch, Abraham, Kessler and Bika have all fallen victim to Oakland’s foremost treasured son.
I suppose the likes of DeGale along with the Dirrell brothers could be options for Andre, especially now he is with Roc-nation, thus has significant promotional backing.
As long as Jay-Z and company can lure big name opponents to fight SOG, the odds of him going underneath the radar again seem unlikely.
If Andre seeks to move up 3lbs from the 172 he fought Smith at, Sergey Kovalev would be the optimal selection. The problem with that bout is that it may need building up somewhat as neither are huge names yet.
Plus, should Ward defeat Kovalev next, who else is there for him to fight at 175 lb?
Stevenson under Haymon isn’t going to be under any obligation to fight him at all, first due to broadcasting differences and second because of the ambivalence towards traditional world championship belts.
That said, maybe Ward is best served fighting on at 168, or even engaging in lucrative catch-weight encounters with Kovalev, GGG and Hopkins.
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