Two weight champ Andre Ward hangs up his gloves

S.O.G


He is a polarising figure in the world of boxing but he leaves an incredible legacy.

Andre Ward – ‘the Son of God’ won all of his 32 fights initially fighting at super middleweight and then moving up to light heavyweight. The American Olympic gold medallist, which he won in Athens in 2004, captured belts at both weights and was widely considered the pound for pound number 1 after Floyd Mayweather retired. Citing his lack of drive due to the toll training camps have taken on him over the years as his reason on retiring we take a look back at his career.

Before we look back at Ward’s career it is important to understand why he has retired. He turned professional in 2004 which makes it a 13 year stint in the pro game. His words after the announcement spoke volumes;

“People see what I do fight night. They see under the lights, but they don’t see the toil, they don’t see the grind, they don’t see just the pain, the physical pain that you go through, not just in the fights, but to prepare and to get ready for those battles.”  (Andre Ward)

It is true that fight fans both casual and more intense forget the hard work that the fighters put in. The preparation to get into the right shape to be able to get into the ring is intense and it only increases as bigger fights are made. The level Ward competed at for so long effects a person and it cannot last forever. In his mind he has achieved everything he has set out to do and the effort and work needed to prepare for fight night just does not seem worth it any more.

It is difficult to see why Ward is not universally loved by fight fans. He is a game fighter who has moved up weight and became a two weight world champion. His slick skills make for an interesting watch but perhaps not the most entertaining style. Issues with promoters may have had an effect on Ward’s career. A long time feud and a court case, which meant he missed some time in the sport, with Dan Goossen changed the public opinion on Ward. The boxing community turned on the fighter and the media changed their opinion because of that.

There were complaints from the critics saying that the standard of fighter Ward came up against after returning from the court case were not good enough and that he was just going through the motions. His style was also under more scrutiny. While he was never the biggest puncher it was now suggested he was a fighter set up to ruin fights. To negate the opponents strengths and edge through.

Through his career he has faced top class opponents at both weights he campaigned at. Victory in the Super Six World Boxing Classic between 2009 and 2011 saw he beat Carl Froch in the final. Froch became a critic of Ward’s style and the pair have exchanged comments in interviews since then.

His final encounters with Kovalev stands out as the exclamation point on his career. Kovalev is a monster at light heavyweight and up there in the pound for pound rankings with Ward. This was the biggest test of the American’s career. Winning the first fight even after being dropped early in the fight was not enough for most of his critics. Home advantage was put forward as the reason Ward took the victory. In all honesty the fight was a close one. Kovalev started quickly but Ward was able to come back into the fight down the stretch. The decision could have gone either way.

The rematch was an obvious one to make. Kovalev wanted another crack at Ward and for some reason the winner of the first bout had not done enough to convince the world he won the first encounter. It gave Ward the stage to make a statement and he did. The fight was competitive but Ward’s work to the body was he key to success. He was able to slow his opponent down and take the wind out of him. The stoppage may have been controversial but it was a double over Kovalev that confirmed Ward as a legend in the sport.

As Mayweather says you need something extra to be the best. Who knows what that is? It is hard to say. Ward had a great amateur career, great skills and the ambition to push himself to fight the best. Boxing is changing. To be the top draw you need a certain personality trait that makes you stand out. It is not enough to simply be one of the best boxers of your generation any more. Ward was certainly that. One of the best boxers to compete in his generation. Perhaps over time his legacy and standing in the sport will be increased to were it should be.


If you have a passion for sport and would like to write or design for S57onSport contact us today by clicking here.

Ward Kovalev take 2! Confirmation or revenge?

WARDKOV 2


Sergey Kovalev is out for revenge. The Russian light heavyweight star lost his professional unbeaten record and world titles to American pound for pound king Andre Ward who will be looking to confirm he is the superior boxer. The fight was a close one. Kovalev dominating early and putting Ward down in the second. The American was lucky that the knock down came so far into the round with just half a minute remaining. Otherwise we could be sat here discussing a direct role reversal of Ward losing his unbeaten pro record to the Russian. Ward was able to get through the early onslaught from Kovalev and use his jab to the body to slow down the champions attacks.

Ward, nicknamed the Son of God (SOG), walks the fine line between cool confidence and obscene arrogance. He maintained after the fight that Kovalev never hurt him, even though he put him down for only the second time in his career and clearly had him in some trouble. Ward is a brilliant technician. His boxing ability is impossible to refute. Ward believed he won the fight clearly, Kovalev the same. This is boxing, decisions are never clear cut and fighters always believe they took the fight. In all honesty it was a close fight. Kovalev tired and the American took over the fight more and more as the fight progressed. The Russian put this down to his conditioning training and has a new regime in place for this fight. However, Ward landed consistently to the body which must have also influenced Kovalev’s fatigue.

Ward has vowed to deliver a more decisive victory in the rematch against the Krusher but how can he deliver it? Kovalev is the bigger man and has shown he has the power to trouble the SOG. Ward in the build up has been hailed for his ability top change his style and negate the strengths of his opponents. Pundits suggest he will tweak his style slightly so he can stop the Russian knock-out king. The champion needs to find something that can stop Kovalev coming forward with furious intensity. Ward could struggle if Sergey comes for the KO and puts it on him for long periods. If he can keep the pressure on Ward and not fade as drastically it could be a long night for the unbeaten California fighter.

The man who, in his eyes, unfairly lost the last fight will be coming for the stoppage. Ward has goaded the Russian star by saying he has had his chance to finish him. It is true. Not many people have Ward in trouble. The Krusher did and being such an experienced finisher you would expect him to do the job and get him out of there. As earlier mentioned Kovalev did not have much time at the end of the second to put him away. However, it would be expected that he would come out of the blocks in the third and really test Ward’s chin and powers of recovery. The SOG is extremely difficult to hit, he’s made a career out of being that type of fighter. It was not until the later stages of the first minute in the third that Kovalev threw a combination at Ward, which the challenger at the time easily covered up and avoided.

The first fight was absolutely enthralling. A stronger guy who has a massive knock-out ratio against a technical boxer who is difficult to hit. As a boxing contest it really is the best you can get. Ward was able to get through the early stages and dominate Kovalev in the second half of the fight. Kovalev felt that he was exhausted by the fifth which shows that his decision to change the conditioning training is justified.

The fight itself is a mega fight. But what is just around the corner could be even bigger. WBC champion Adonis Stevenson has stated that he wants the winner in a unification fight in the light heavyweight division. Realistically this will only happen if Ward extends the margin of defeat he inflicted on Kovalev the first time round. If the Russian can overturn the first fight and beat the unbeaten American champion there will surely be a third fight, a trilogy. Who would not want to see this again? Ward would not let his undefeated record go without having the chance to rectify the result. Stevenson is a quality operator and fight against either of the two fighters involved here would be entertaining.

The fight is on a knife edge. It is difficult to say what will happen and what will be the attribute of either fighter that help them prevail. It could come down to who can impose their style on the other man. If Ward can get behind his jab and weave away from Kovalev’s shots it could be a glorious night for the SOG. Kovalev’s style is a real test for Ward. If he can improve his stamina and fight at a quick pace for longer he will really make Ward work hard. Kovalev and Ward both had clear rounds in their favour in the first fight in pretty much equal quantities. It was the ones that were close and difficult to call that decided it. That night the judges all believed that Ward’s classy work and superior landing percentage were worthy of the victory over the Russians hard work and aggressive nature. That is not to say that the rematch will be the same. It may not even come down to the scorecards.

If the fight goes the distance it is a Ward win. Kovalev is a brilliant boxer in his own right but Ward is on another level. Kovalev must force the fight and he has to to win his belts back. The shot that put Ward down in the first fight was not a huge power shot from Kovalev. His arm was not fully extended. It was beautifully timed and Ward did not see it coming that is why it put him down. If Kovalev can land a big shot and time it as well as that one it will be good night for Ward. One things for sure, if Ward is going to win this fight, it will be a long nights work for him. He will more than likely have to go the distance as Ward does not posses the power to KO Kovalev.

It is a mouth watering clash and at S57 we are split when it comes to picking a winner. This is why boxing is great. The amount of possibilities and the lack of ability to know what style of fighter will impose themselves and make it their type of fight keeps you guessing even after the first bell has rings. After a strange week for boxing, with the announcement of a mega money fight between a world class boxer and the biggest star in UFC, it is good to have a competitive, exciting fight that involves two world class boxers.