LONDON (Nov 15) – Boxing ace Amir Khan has hailed stablemate Andre Ward as one of the world’s very best, declaring that he’ll make an explosive ring return this weekend, live on BoxNation.
The super-middleweight world champion, who holds the WBA Super and Ring Magazine titles, makes his long-awaited return to the squared circle following an injury to his shoulder which has kept him out of action since September 2012.
Having seen Ward at close quarters, since joining up with trainer Virgil Hunter last year, who has honed the skills of the American since childhood, Khan is in no doubt that a revitalised and rejuvenated Ward will dismantle his so far unbeaten opponent, Edwin Rodriguez.
“Andre Ward is a tremendous fighter and one of the very best in the world. I think for any fighter going in against him it’s going to be very tricky. Edwin Rodriguez is undefeated but you’ve got to come with a lot more than that when facing someone like Ward,” said Khan.
“He’s the type of fighter who can make adjustments in the ring and isn’t one dimensional in his approach. After being out for so long I’m sure he’ll want to bounce back with a big win and a big performance, and I’m fully expecting him to come out and try and impress from the get-go.
“He’s looked really good in the gym and he’ll use the frustration from over a year out to his benefit come Saturday night,” Khan added.
The former unified light-welterweight world champion has also backed Ward’s unique ability to be just as proficient using his slick boxing skills from the outside as he is dealing with the roughhouse tactics often utilised by his opponents from close in.
Khan expects Rodriguez to deploy an aggressive, come-forward approach, which he believes will lead to his downfall.
“I think Rodriguez is going to try and take the fight to him from the start and see if there is any ring rust there. By doing that though he can get picked off and walk into a big shot,” said Khan.
“There’s a misconception that Ward doesn’t like to engage and get involved but he’s tough enough, and clever enough, to stand with Rodriguez and still get the better of the fight from the inside,” he said.
“Ward won’t be rushed and he’ll look to break Rodriguez down round-by-round before trying to close the show. It’s a great stage and chance for Rodriguez, which could spur him on, but I believe Ward will just have too much for him,” Khan stated.
A possible match-up for the 29-year-old from Oakland, California is a rematch with British bruiser Carl Froch.
Ward convincingly beat the man from Nottingham when they met in December 2011 but his recent triumphs over Lucian Bute and Mikkel Kessler, plus the bad blood between the pair, has led to calls for them to share the ring again, something which excites Khan.
“If Ward and Froch fought again it would be a huge fight, particularly in Britain. They’ve both excelled in the super-middleweight division and are the two leading names there now,” he said.
“They’re both world champions, so it’s a fight which definitely makes sense and one boxing fans want to see. I believe the fight would follow the same course as the first one. The thing is with Ward he’s very clever and smart, and can fight inside just as well as he does outside,” said Khan.
“Carl is an all-action sort of fighter and I think that plays into Ward’s hands because he can use his boldness against him. Ward would be more eager to try and get the stoppage in a rematch, because of some of the things which were said after the first fight, but there’s no doubt it would be a really exciting match up and occasion,” he said.
“The onus would be on Carl to take Ward into the trenches and force him to fight his kind of fight but that wouldn’t be easy to do because Ward is very disciplined and makes adjustments,” Khan declared.