Andre Ward: ‘If I had to fight next month, I would be ready to fight’
Now that THE RING/WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward has signed with Roc Nation Sports, does it mean that he will fight next month or at least in the immediate future?
Having never been involved in a pay-per-view event, let alone headlined one, does Ward feel the urgency to draw a big name opponent to make that happen, and does that have to occur in his very next fight?
Ward commented on these questions during an interview with RingTV.com on Friday.
“I would remove the word, ‘need,’” Ward said in response to his needing a big-name opponent as soon as possible.
“That’s going to come, and that’s what a major part of this signing is about. I don’t have to worry about anything right now but being the fighter that I am and improving and getting better and defending my belts and just being all that I can be. Everything outside of the ring, from the promotion, to the marketing, to you name it, that’s taken care of. I don’t have to worry about that ever again in my career,” said the 2004 Olympic gold medalist who has fought just three times in as many years and has been out of the ring for nearly 14 months.
“I think that if you check my history, and the types of fighters that I’ve fought over the last two or three years, there is no question that I’ve fought the best and that I’ve been fortunate to beat the best. So, with that being said, I’ve been off for a while and I haven’t had any consistency and just talking to Virgil [Hunter,] my trainer, and discussing things with him, he personally wants me to get into a grove and to just get a good rhythm going and to get some consistency, and I do, too. So we’re going to talk to the Roc Nation team and we’re going to figure out, collectively, what the next move is going to be.”
Neither Ward nor Roc Nation sports COO David Itskowitch revealed the details of their agreement. The move comes on the heels of Thursday’s other announcement, that the organization had finalized a deal to purchase promoter Gary Shaw’s company, Gary Shaw Productions. Shaw will now run Roc Nation’s boxing division.
It has also ended Ward’s litigation with career-long handler Goossen Promotions, whose representative, Tom Brown, declared “that chapter’s closed now,” adding, “We’ve both gone in our separate directions.”
“I feel good, obviously. It’s a new day, it’s a new chapter. This is the next chapter of my career,” said Ward, who turns 31 next month. “If I had to come back off of a hiatus with an announcement, then this the kind of announcement that I want to come back with.”
Although he declined to mention a specific opponent, Ward expressed his desire to be in a pay-per-view event.
“I think that the results are going to speak for themselves, and I think that when the pay per view situation arises, it’s going to be right, and it’s going to be blockbuster like it’s supposed to be. But you’ve got to remember, I can’t fight a pay per view by myself. These other fighters are going to have to step up and they’ll have to earn their spots,” said Ward.
“It’s as simple as that. You can only earn your spot by beating the best, and I feel like I’m the best in the super middleweight division. The world is ready for this, and I’m ready, too, man. I’m just looking forward to getting back into the ring and making the splash that we’re going to make.”
How soon does Itskowitch expect a big fight to materialize?
“Obviously, there are a lot of factors that go into this when you’re talking about a fighter of Andre’s level. Television is a big part of that, and you have to have conversations not only internally, but we have to have conversations with television and figure out what’s available and who is available in terms of opponents that we’re interested in fighting. So it’s not as simple as saying that next week we’re telling you that we’re fighting at the beginning of April,” said Itskowitch.
“We have to have some conversations at that time. We know that Andre’s raring to go and that he’s anxious to get back into the ring, so that’s definitely going to be a priority for us… Obviously, we’re going to sit down and talk about what the next move is going to be and what our game plan is for the next fight and that’s going to lead to who is going to fight in the fight after that and the fight after that, but we haven’t done that yet. We’ll do that in the coming weeks.”
Ward’s last appearance was a unanimous decision victory over Edwin Rodriguez in November 2013. Ward ended a 14-month absence against Rodriguez, a bout that followed a 10th-round knockout victory over then-RING light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in September 2012.
In 2011, Ward won Showtime’s “Super Six Super World Classic” middleweight tournament with a unanimous decision over current IBF titleholder Carl Froch for THE RING championship in December of that year.
Ward has since endured long stretches of inactivity due in part to successful surgery in early January 2013 to repair his injured right shoulder following the win over Dawson, as well as to the acrimony with Goossen Promotions.
It was way back in January 2014 during an interview with RingTV.com that Ward entertained discussion regarding potential for bouts against either RING’s No. 1-rated WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin, RING and WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, or RING No. 1-rated 175-pounder Sergey Kovalev, who currently holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts.
At time time, Ward characterized Kovalev and Golovkin, a 2004 Olympic silver medalist from Kazakhstan, as “the Boogey Men in their divisions. Ward also said that he would consider making his next fight against previously unbeaten 168-pounder George Groves, who had scored a first-round knockdown during a ninth-round stoppage loss to Froch in November 2013. But Groves was also stopped in the eighth round of his rematch with Froch in May.
In the past, former WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. expressed interest in fighting both Froch and Ward, who, in turn, once referred to Chavez as “dream” opponent.
Asked specifically about the notion of facing either Chavez or Golovkin, Ward said, “No disrespect, that’s a great question, but I think that today is just about us.
“I think that today is about Andre Ward. I think that today is about Roc Nation. I don’t think that today is about any other super middleweight out there right now. But I’ve always been available,” said Ward.
“I’ve always been available and I’ve never ducked or dodged anybody, and that’s not changing today. I still stand on that. But I think that today is just about us and I think that at the right time, then we’ll get to those guys.”
In the meantime, Ward said he has been maintaining his conditioning with Hunter.
“If I had to fight next month, I would be ready to fight next month…But I’ve been consistent like I’m supposed to. I’ve worked out very, very seriously and I don’t play around with my craft,” said Ward, who reportedly could fight as early as March.
“So I’ve done everything that I’m supposed to do with what I’ve been given, with the layoff. When you stay consistent, all I have to do is to get into a training camp to be in tip top shape. My body is in great shape, my weight is down, and I’m as motivated as I’ve ever been.”
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