Friday, March 24, 2023  |



The Ring All-Star Report Cards: Andre Ward


Note: This feature originally appeared in the October edition of THE RING magazine. The November issue, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. on the cover, is on newsstands now. The cover story is titled: “10 Guys Who Would Have Kicked Mayweather's Butt.”

It was out with the old and in with the new as THE RING composed this year’s All-Star Report Cards. Gone from last year’s survey are such old warhorses as Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones, Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Chris John and Israel Vazquez. In place of those fighters were newer, fresher names like Yuriorkis Gamboa and Timothy Bradley, a sign that new blood is being pumped into the sport. Meanwhile, names like Sergio Martinez and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam show that our All-Star list always has room for veterans, provided they’re still producing in the ring.

Aside from the youth movement, other trends have emerged this year. For instance, there is a noticeable dip in Mexican or Mexican-American fighters among our 20 All-Stars. When THE RING first compiled this roster in 2003, there were five such fighters listed; this year, there is one. Also, the number of fighters born in the United States shrunk from 13 in 2003 to a measly four this year. Lopez and Miguel Cotto are U.S. citizens by way of Puerto Rico, but they didn’t learn their stuff in the American amateur system, so they can’t be counted. Brits are on the rise, though. There was only one Brit All-Star in 2003, but three made the list this year, sans Hatton.

Perhaps you’re wondering why some of your favorite fighters didn’t make the list, but rest assured that many other fighters were given close consideration. It’s just that some fighters seem to lose fights as we’re creating our list, and others just fall a bit short in terms of box office and general excitement value.

The 20 fighters who made it weren't chosen solely on their ability to sell tickets and attract cable customers but the ability to fill seats definitely plays a big part in our selection process. Some fighters, Nonito Donaire for example, might not yet be a legitimate star on the level of Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao, but we felt he can compete with the best in terms of talent, and is certainly on his way to stardom.

Those who were removed from last year’s list are gone because they simply didn’t do enough to merit inclusion this year. The one exception is the late Edwin Valero. He made it last time, and there was every reason to believe he’d repeat.

With that in mind, here are the 2010 All-Star Report Cards. The fighters are judged on talent, achievement, marketability, support system, and growth potential. They are presented in order of weight class, starting with the heavyweights.

Today: Andre Ward. Tomorrow: Mikkel Kessler.

WBA super middleweight titleholder
22-0 (13 knockouts)

TALENT: Ward doesn’t have anything in his arsenal that is particularly eye-catching, but he possesses the kind of steady, workmanlike ability that can sometimes take a fighter farther than flashy moves or violent KO power. He can fight as a lefty or a righty, is good on his feet, and his hands are quick. He can control a fight from a distance and can also outwork an opponent on the inside. He’s a thinker in the ring and doesn’t make many mistakes. He’s not afraid to rough it up, either, happily leading with his head at times. This all adds up to create a formidable young fighter. Grade: A-

ACHIEVEMENT: Along with an amateur record of 114-5, which included an Olympic gold medal in 2004, Ward has gone undefeated in 22 professional bouts, notching wins over the likes of Edison Miranda, Shelby Pudwill, Jerson Ravelo, and Rubin Williams. He won the WBA 168-pound title with a stunning win over Mikkel Kessler and received high marks again for his dominating performance against Allan Green. Ward, set to face Andre Dirrell on Nov. 27 in his final fight of the opening round, currently is in first place in Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic. Grade: B+

MARKETABILITY: The trouble with marketing Ward is that he has two strikes against him: His personality is on the quiet side and he’s not known for having a big punch. Also, “Son of God” is a less-than-compelling nickname, and the abbreviation “S.O.G.” on his trunks looks like “soggy.” Still, he has an amazing platform in the Super Six tournament and if a humble ring technician can be marketed, then Ward is the guy. All he has to do is continue winning. Grade: B

SUPPORT SYSTEM: If Ward seems too much of a respectful, God-fearing family man, he’s surrounded by plenty of noisy, colorful characters. Much credit goes to trainer Virgil Hunter, who takes some of the heat off of Ward during press conferences, offering some great quotes while Ward remains low key. The two also have a great working relationship and have become very good at developing winning strategies. Also increasing the volume around Ward is promoter Dan Goossen, who promotes Ward with the same braggadocio he uses for all of his charges, and manager James Prince, the rap mogul who has managed such fighters as Winky Wright, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and the late Diego Corrales. Prince signed Ward right out of the Athens Olympics, a bold move since 2004 was the year HBO, Showtime and ESPN began trimming their boxing budgets, and signing bonuses and multi-fight deals were becoming things of the past. Prince and Ward’s partnership might be stronger than most since it was forged during hard times for boxing. Grade: A-

GROWTH POTENTIAL: The jury is still out on whether Ward is as good as he looked against Kessler and Green. We sense, though, at age 26, he has great potential. Grade: A-

Previous All-Star Report Cards

Wladimir Klitschko

Vitali Klitschko

David Haye

Tomasz Adamek