Sunday, April 02, 2023  |



Andre Ward’s response to his detractors? To keep winning

Photo / Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos
Fighters Network

Andre Ward hears your criticism, but he’s not going to respond to it in the way that you would expect him to. Just know that he’s aware of everything that is being said about him.

But instead of responding to the skeptics with words, he responds the only way he knows how: by winning. And it’s no different when he squares off with rival Sergey Kovalev on Saturday in Las Vegas. He heard the voices saying that he should have lost. He’s heard Kovalev’s team and their complaints about “home cooking” and being “robbed.” He’s aware of the members of the media who agree with Kovalev and have been more critical than congratulatory with how they describe Ward.

He knows. He just learned how to deal with the skeptics.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that I won’t be able to win over everyone many years ago,” Ward (31-0, 15 knockouts) told when asked about the criticism regarding his career both in and out of the ring. Ward explained that it took him a while to understand that some people just wanted to see him lose for reasons unbeknownst to him. Whether it be a member of the media or on social media, Ward is comfortable with the detractors.

“You’re not going to be liked for various reasons. I’m not here to figure out why. It’s not my job to reconcile that,” Ward said.

Photo by David Spagnolo / Main Events

The undefeated 2004 Olympic gold medalist doesn’t have an obligation to change the perception of who he is with words. Instead, he’ll continue to win fights with his exceptional skill set that has neutralized every single opponent he’s faced. Even in the case of Kovalev, Ward managed to pull himself off the canvas in the second round and put together a performance that saw him win a narrow decision. Whether you like his style or not, the fact is that he’s effective, efficient and a winner.

Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of his style that morphs according to his opponent. He’s a master of neutralizing his opponent’s greatest weapon while slowly implementing his own strengths. It’s not flashy, but it gets the job done.

“I don’t know if people can really define my style,” he said, acknowledging that it could be a contributor to why he receives so much criticism. “There’s a lot more to me than what you see. I’ve reserved in my mind that I’m going to get hit. I know that’s coming. I’m not against getting hit but I’m not going to give my head on a platter nor will I take two to give one. My job is to limit the amount of times you can hit me. If you hit me once, I’m not going to let you do it the same way again.”

There are also those who cannot understand why Ward isn’t one of the big superstars in boxing. When asked, Virgil Hunter put it in perspective.

“Andre Ward a superstar? I don’t know. But I know he’s going to beat a lot of superstars.”

It’s a simple statement that encapsulates who Ward is. He’s being paid handsomely, takes care of his family, keeps his faith in God and gives back to his community. He’s not concerned with being all over TMZ nor does he care if he’s the biggest attraction in the sport.

Photo by Khristopher Sandifer/Roc Nation Sports

“I understand my position in this sport, my lane is being the understated one,” Ward said. “And that’s okay. The accolades come offline when nobody is around. Those are the things I need to stay on the right track.”

Ultimately, the WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight champion has long stayed away from getting caught up in his own hype. Whether it’s to sing his praises or tear him down, Ward is going to keep his head down and fight for what he believes in. Everything else is just noise.

“I can’t tell you the last article I read about myself,” Ward said. A majority of what he hears about himself comes from those around him. “I’ve been boxing for over two decades and a pro for 12 or 13 years and I’m just not interested in it. The key is the fight to stay in the middle. I can’t get too high with the praise nor too low with the criticism. I’m just trying to be great and one of the greatest who has ever done it.”