This time last year Andre Ward was considered the number two pound for pound fighter on the planet, right behind Floyd Mayweather Jr. Being the second best fighter in the world at this point in boxing is more significant than other times because of who is in front of you. Mayweather Jr. has held the spot for so long that it is almost by default, he isn’t even considered a normal fighter anymore and losing to him rarely brings shame or even hurts a fighter’s career. To be the second best fighter is like being the best fighter under normal circumstances, amongst the human fighters.
Also, Mayweather Jr. is on his way out and if you’re the second best fighter in the world then it stands to reason that you will be the best once he calls it quits, especially if you’re Ward’s age and have taken several significant layoffs recently, thus preserving your body.
Ward knows what the time off has cost him and with fans and media continuously hounding him for answers regarding his next fight, Ward is anxious to prove he is that same fighter that once heralded that coveted number two spot.
When Ward was asked about the need to prove himself after a lengthy layoff he responded by saying, “I think that comes with the territory. If you have a fight where you don’t look so good people say you’re not what you used to be and you got to show them. I look at it like I had a good long rest.”
A “good long rest” can do a fighter good, but it can have adverse effects as well. But when you’re an amazing athlete like Michael Jordan or Mayweather then your abilities aren’t diminished as easily as other athletes. Ward has proven that he is a superior athlete, but he has yet to earn that once in an era elite status that he has the potential for and he uses Mayweather as a comparison that will prove his level of worthiness upon return.
“If you look at Floyd [Mayweather Jr.], Floyd had a two year hiatus and I think he hand two stints where he was off a year, and Floyd was much older than me. I don’t know if Floyd could’ve competed as long as he did at the level he’s at if he didn’t take that time off. So, I rested my body and my mind, it was involuntary. I didn’t want to be off, trust me, but I did and I don’t think it’s going to bother me,” Ward said.
Ward is hoping to come back strong, although he is planning a tune-up fight in his return. However, after his tune-up he hopes to fight the very best.
“I think as a champion, the champion should fight the top contenders and should fight the other champions, that kind of goes without saying.”
I’m curious to know who Ward regards as a top contender because he is insisting that he will stay at super middleweight, a weight class that he cleaned out and hasn’t produced any obvious challengers to Ward’s throne.
Ward claims that he is being ducked by other fighters, but I’m not sure who deserves him. It almost seems like Ward is desperate to find challengers because he isn’t ready to fight at 175 pounds. That is his prerogative, but his true tests are eight pounds below and seven pounds above his fighting weight class.
“It’s interesting to me that the super middleweights want to play a round robin and leave me out of it, and they’ve used the lawsuit and the issues as an excuse. We can’t use the cliché ‘we want to give the fans what they want to see,’ we can’t say we’re warriors, we can’t say these things over and over but not compete against each other. At the end of the day, they should want what I have.”
Ward seems genuine and I’m happy to know that he feels the way he feels, but if he wants to fight the fights that fans want to see then he needs to realize that Gennady Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev are those fights.
“I need to get in a grove, get this rust off, but after that I feel like the best should mix it up against the best and whatever happens, happens.”