RING and WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward said he plans to return to the ring as a 168-pounder in September and mentioned former WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. as a potential opponent. He also hinted that in the future he will rise into the light heavyweight division.
Having successfully undergone surgery in early January to repair his injured right shoulder, Ward returned to the gym for light training in early March, and said he is on target to return to the ring in the fall.
“Right now, unless something drastic happens, it’s going to be 168. I’m the super middleweight champion, so that’s my weight class,” said Ward.
“I shouldn’t have any problems getting down to 168. As far as the exact date in September, we’re still working on that. I don’t want to speak out of turn, so I can’t really say what that date will be.”
The injury to Ward (26-0, 14 knockouts) forced the cancelation of his scheduled March 2 defense against former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik.
Ward, 29, expects that his recovery will be the subject of a documentary.
“I will tell the fans this. From Day One, I’ve documented my return. I’ve gotten everything put into a documentary, and we’re putting it together right now. That’s something that we want to get out to the fans before my next fight. There are a lot of vulnerable moments in there. I mean, there is some real stuff,” said Ward.
“As soon as this happened, I thought, ‘I don’t want to disappear for four or five months and not keep the fans abreast of what’s going on, because it’s easy for the fans to see you during the high times. But I also want people to see me right now, during one of my lowest moments so that they can see the reality of my life, and see the reality of this sport and the ups and downs of what we go through, so that’s coming soon.”
Ward is coming off an HBO-televised 10th-round knockout of RING and WBC light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson following a win over Carl Froch in December of 2011 by unanimous decision in the finals of Showtime’s Super Six tournament.
A 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Ward became the first man to stop Dawson, whom he floored during the third, fourth and 10th rounds.
Ward fought through a broken left hand to defeat Froch and was later named Fighter of The Year for 2011 by the Boxing Writers’ Association of America.
Last month, the WBC declared Ward its “Champion Emeritus,” essentially stripping him of the belt. As a result, the June 8 clash between Cameroon native Sakio Bika and Mexico’s unbeaten Marco Antonio Periban will be for the WBC’s belt formerly held by Ward, according to the organization’s Seceretary General, Mauricio Sulaiman.
In November of 2010, Ward unanimously decisioned Bika by scores of 118-110, 118-110, and 120-108.
“It does bother me, and I have my thoughts on it, but it’s not time to talk about that right now,” said Ward of the WBC’s decision.
“We’re actively dealing with that right now, and I hope that we can come to a proper resolution. If not, then I have some decisions to make about that.”
Chavez, 27, was last in the ring for September’s unanimous decision loss to 160-pound champion Sergio Martinez, whom Chavez Jr. dropped in the 12th round.
“I don’t think that we would fight as early as September, if (Chavez) is, in fact, coming up in weight. I’ve heard him say out of his own mouth that he wants to fight me and that he would be willing to fight me, and then, I heard that he’s staying down,” said Ward.
“So there are a lot of things that would have to fall into place for that fight to happen, but if he does come up to 168, it would be probably be a fight that would have to happen at the end of the year or during the first quarter of next year.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]