Thursday, July 18, 2024  |



Ward anxious for ring return after shoulder surgery

Fighters Network

RING, WBA and WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward endured successful surgery on Friday to repair his injured right shoulder which forced the cancelation of his scheduled March 2 HBO-televised defense against former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik. Ward will be “out of action for an indefinite period,” according to a release from his promoter Dan Goossen of Goossen Tutor Promotions.

The clash with Pavlik already had been rescheduled from Jan. 26 to Feb. 23 after Goossen had informed that Ward had only “tweaked his right shoulder in training,” adding that “he had an MRI,” and “there are no tears, no torn rotator cuff, no other major damage.” But the injury was discovered to have been worse, according to Ward, who informed exclusively of last week’s impending operation.

“My surgery went very well and I am definitely pleased with the outcome. I had a fantastic team of surgeons overseeing everything on Friday morning and they did a great job of repairing the injury. I am confident that I will return to the ring even better than I was prior to the injury,” said Ward, in a prepared statement.

“I really want to thank everyone for all of the prayers and support that my family and I have received. We truly appreciate it and it has helped throughout this process. I can’t wait to get back out there and perform for all my fans and plan to keep everyone updated on my progress. The best is yet to come so stay tuned.”

According to the release, Ward felt pain in his right shoulder after throwing a punch at sparring partner Tony Hirsch during training in Ward’s hometown of Oakland. The original MRI revealed a significant amount of swelling and inflammation, but no injury to the rotator cuff.


But a second opinion from Dr. Michael Dillingham, a 25-year team orthopedic surgeon for the San Francisco 49ers and currently the San Francisco Giants, revealed during an MRI that there was a small tear in Ward’s right shoulder capsule.

Surgery was performed on Friday by Dr. Dillingham at the SOAR Surgicenter in Burlingame with assistance from Drs. Ken Akizuki, team orthopedist for the Giants, and Joe Donahue, former 49ers assistant team orthopedist and current team physician for Santa Clara University.

“Technically, things went very well, and all involved are very hopeful about the eventual outcome,” said Dr. Dillingham. “Within a week, Andre will begin his rehab.”

Lisa Giannone, of Activecare Physical Therapy in San Francisco, will monitor Ward’s rehabilitation.

“The doctor said Andre will initially have his arm in a sling where he will be better prepared to give a timeline for Andre’s recovery process once the sling is removed,” said Goossen.

“Andre has always surpassed everyone’s expectations, and I told Dr. Dillingham he can expect the same fire from Andre with his rehabilitation as the fans see when he’s in the ring.”


Ward is coming off an HBO-televised 10th-round knockout of RING and WBC light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson in September, this, after having dethroned Carl Froch last December as WBC 168-pound beltholder by unanimous decision in the finals of Showtime’s Super Six Super Middleweight Classic.

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 and the recipient of the Sugar Ray Robinson Trophy from the Boxing Writers’ Association of America.

Ward has been here before, having had to postpone his fight with Froch from Oct. 29 of last year to Dec. 17 after he suffered a cut over his right eye.

Ward received seven stitches to repair the cut, an injury he sustained during sparring, part of an experience that is helpful as Ward tries to make a positive out of the most recent development and banks on the notion that there may be any number of options awaiting him when he returns.

“This is also a blessing in disguise, because I know that the nature of boxing. Guys are going to think that they’re gaining ground, and there are going to be guys that people are talking up. They’re going to be saying that this is a guys that Ward should fight,” said Ward, during an interview with last month.


“So I think that when I get back, the super middleweight division, and, even possibly the light heavyweight division is going to be more appetizing. There could be some potential fights right on the table as soon as I come back. So it could be a good thing from that standpoint.”

For example, former RING light heavyweight middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins could face undefeated IBF 175-pound beltholder Tavoris Cloud on March 9 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn pending approval from the IBF, according to Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.

With a victory, Hopkins, who will turn 48 in January, would extend his own record as the oldest man to win a significant crown, a feat the Philadelphia native accomplished at the age of 46 with a unanimous decision over Jean Pascal for the WBC’s light heavyweight belt in May of last year.

Other inviting targets might be 175-pound titleholders Beibut Shumenov of the WBA and Nathan Cleverly of the WBO, respectively, the latter of whom may be in line for a defense opposite Germany’s Robin Krasniqi.

Three-time 168-pound titlewinners Mikkel Kessler and Froch — the latter of whom lost by unanimous decision to Kessler in April of 2010 — are also considering a rematch for April, May or June for Froch’s native England, and could offer $2 million for each fighter.

Kessler, 33, of Denmark, scored his fifth straight win and his third consecutive stoppage victory in the third round on Dec. 8 over Ireland’s Brian Magee, against whom Kessler won the WBA’s 168-pound interim belt in Herning, Denmark.


Kessler returned to Herning for the first time since dethroning Froch as WBC beltholder in a bloody, all-out battle that was part of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic.

Kessler’s triumph over Froch, 35, helped him to rebound from losing his WBA belt by a one-sided, 11-round technical-decision loss to Ward in the first round of the Super Six in November of 2009, one whicch ended Kessler’s streak of three straight stoppage wins since falling by unanimous decision to southpaw Joe Calzaghe in November of 2007.

The current IBF titleholder, Froch (30-2-1, 22 KOs ) is coming off November’s third-round stoppage of Philadelphia’s Yusaf Mack before his hometown fans at Capital FM Arena in Nottingham, England. In facing Mack, Froch returned to the venue where he dethroned previously unbeaten Lucian Bute by fifth-round knockout in May.

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Photos by Squint Photo

Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]