Andre Ward—The Road Less Favored

By Marc Livitz on June 28, 2017
Andre Ward—The Road Less Favored
If he is serious about moving up to heavyweight, then matters may really get interesting.

When the Super Six concluded in late 2011, Ward had beaten Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green, Sakio Bika, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch…

Mandatory fights as well as challengers can bring a smile across the face of many a boxing fan. Such a designation usually means face the required “next man up” or perhaps lose a title or two. An idea was hatched in 2009 which seemed to put these ideas and many more into a well advertised and explosive package, which was the Super Six World Boxing Classic. The tournament, which lasted a little over two years from start to finish culminated with current light heavyweight kingpin Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KO’s) taking the top prize. On December 17, 2011, Ward defeated then WBC champion Carl “The Cobra” Froch in Atlantic City, New Jersey for the tournament trophy as well as the vacant Ring Magazine lineal title. Quickly jumping ahead to a dozen or so days ago, Andre disposed of Sergey Kovalev via eighth round TKO. Granted, the ending wasn’t pretty and more than a few members of the Kovalev camp were less than pleased with how the bout was ultimately stopped.

One particularly memorable moment, however was the desire expressed by Ward during his post fight interview with HBO’s Max Kellerman that he be considered the world’s best fighter, pound for pound. Such a distinction is best left for fans and boxing pundits alike to discuss from sunrise to sunset whenever necessary. Certain publications will use algorithms and formulas to give your their take and as of now, the world’s most visited boxing website has its number one and it ain’t Ward. He’s currently third behind Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao, believe it or not. However, on the site which represents the planet’s oldest monthly boxing magazine does in fact show him the much earned love and respect. He’s atop the list there.

The rankings and wrangling that will undoubtedly continue to make itself part of some of the opinions concerning Ward may not quickly fade. However, what is a bit interesting is the fact that the aforementioned publication which was founded a few years after the end of World War I didn’t even have Andre on its annual “Top 100” list back in early 2010. The Super Six tournament had just completed its first few bouts at the time. When the January edition was sent to press, “S.O.G.” Ward had already beaten their pick to win the whole thing, Mikkel Kessler by way of an eleventh round stoppage in Oakland, California. Kessler was favored due to his perceived higher skill set, speed and experience. Furthermore, he was picked to face Germany’s Arthur Abraham in the final, who himself seemed to fall apart in the tournament after being seen by some within the boxing media as an immovable object.

When the Super Six concluded in late 2011, Andre Ward had beaten Kessler, Allan Green, Sakio Bika (interim bout), Abraham and Froch. That’s quite a résumé . What many thought would doom the last gold medalist from the United States was inactivity brought on by legal issues with his former representatives at Goossen Tudor Promotions. This ultimately kept him out of the ring yet in and out of the courtroom for eighteen months. When he returned in the summer of 2015, he had begun the move up to 175 pounds and the light heavyweight division. Paul Smith (TKO 9) was a tuneup in June of that year, followed by a unanimous decision win over Sullivan Barrera in the Spring of 2016. One more night in the ring and the third in as many fights at the Oracle Arena in Ward’s hometown of Oakland was a boxing course given to Alexander Brand (UD 12). At the conclusion of the contest, Sergey Kovalev entered the ring and he didn’t “Seven Nation Army” blasting through the arena speakers to do it. We knew, barring a monumental upset that Kovalev would be next.

Ward’s legal issues are about as far as we’ve ever seen in terms of a dark side to him. The two bouts with Kovalev are still fresh on our minds and there’s still plenty of articles in the boxing ether if anyone needs to be reminded of the respective results. Regardless, Ward is one of the top fighters of our generation. It’s not necessarily fair to put him outside of the top three in the world at the present time just because he doesn’t have his own clothing line and hasn’t appeared in television commercials for beer or liquor. His efforts in the ring and perhaps not his unbeaten record is what should stand out.

A place in boxing lore is on hold, however until he’s done. To some, an undefeated mark doesn’t define one’s place among the absolute best to ever fight. If it did, then Floyd Mayweather might have company in the form of Rocky Marciano, Joe Calzaghe and Ricardo Lopez. For now, maybe we can appreciate Andre Ward for however long he decides to stay in the game. If he’s serious about moving up to heavyweight, then matters may really get interesting.

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  1. The Barker 12:31pm, 07/01/2017

    I am mystified by the reluctance to give Andre Ward his just due. No one boxing today has a better resume and has displayed such consistent dominance in the ring, as he has. He is the best. He is the Pound 4 Pound kingpin. He’s earned it and didn’t need networks or certain press junkets to manufacture his status. We are all witnesses.

  2. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:07am, 06/30/2017

    for boxing and the MMA

  3. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 09:05am, 06/30/2017

    Paulie Malinaggi who is probably the best boxing analyst in the media nowadays and hereabouts, says that if the refs were doing their jobs and enforcing the rules which are basically the same for boxing regarding head butting, elbows. shoulders, straight arms, hitting behind the head, hitting below the belt hitting on the break, hitting after the bell…..that a warning would be given to Porter on just about every exchange..

  4. ConnecticutFan 10:04am, 06/29/2017

    One punch KO power does not define the sport of boxing.  A true champion has many assets.  When I see a pound for pound fighter I always would like to see the following.
    1) has the fighter cleaned out the division.
    2) has the fighter fought in more than one weight division.
    3) has the fighter fought against different styles and when in adversity, was the fighter able to adapt and overcome.
    Andre ward has been able to complete all of these things.  We are now in a world with fighters ie Andre Ward uses intellect due to now having one weapon that dominate.  This intellect now becomes that one weapon/equalizer.  There’s more than one way to be crown pound for pound. 

    Berto did have difficult time fighting a shawn porter.  He is unorthodox, aggressive and not fundamentally sound. Boxing is a fight and we sometimes forget and get away from its basic definition: a fight…..But when you are to over come ie Andre Ward vs…....... you are a true champion.

  5. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:25am, 06/29/2017

    Berto has stated…..of course well after his check cleared….. that every exchange with Shawn Porter involved a foul…...elbows for sure….but for the most part head butts! Think about that one for a Goddamned minute Berto a racist for stating an obvious truth with which he has up close, personal and very painful experience. Is he a liar? Hopkins, Ward, and Porter….what do they have in common? Physically strong, athletic, great cardio, off the charts ego and determination but…..big ass but…. to say that not one of the three possesses one punch KO power is a gross understatement. What to do…..what to do? Maybe Berto could give a little incite…..maybe? You think?

  6. Lucas McCain 07:48am, 06/29/2017

    AW is the best at his weight, but any weight?  That’s still a moot point, and claims include the phrase “end of discussion,” or its cousin, “Nuff said,” are usually suspect.  He’s a fine fighter and probably better than Kovalev overall, but the ending of the last bout was dubious to me.  He saw K “didn’t like it to the body” but defined that as including territory considerably south of the border.  (I wouldn’t be surprised to learn K has some medical problem down there. ) Strategic dirty fighting is often part of the game (cf. Ali holding behind the head) and Ward knows every part of it, but that does not endear him to me.

  7. ConnecticutFan 06:21am, 06/29/2017

    End of discussion.  Andre Ward is pound for pound number 1, the current active best boxer in the world period.  No one has a better resume, face stiffer competition.  He does not nor should he move her any weight classes, it would prove nothing.  We the fight fans thank you Andre Ward and your team for your greatness and professionalism in leading as a sports figure in the arena of “professional” boxing.