|Andre Ward: “I’m fired up about this” The Road to St. Lucia Part Three
INTERVIEW By Gabriel Montoya (Nov 14, 2007) Doghouse Boxing
This Friday night on Showtime’s Shobox series, 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist Andre Ward, 13-0 (8) squares off against Roger Cantrell, 12-0 (8), in a showdown between super middleweight prospects. The bout marks the first time Ward will be co-featured in a main event as well as the first time he will be fighting a ten round bout. The fight also marks the first major bout televised live from the Caribbean island of St. Lucia as part of Showtime’s Boxing in Paradise series taking place every November over the next three years. I had the privilege of sitting down and speaking with Ward before he headed off for training camp. I
found him to be a very mature, focused, and open individual whose self-confidence is as strong as his belief in God and family. DoghouseBoxing.com welcomes Andre Ward.
Gabriel Montoya: I haven’t seen you since your last fight at the Home Depot center.
Andre Ward: Yeah.
GM: Beautiful, beautiful win.
AW: Appreciate it.
GM: How does it feel to be a part of a big promotion like this, man?
AW: This is big. This is my first main event and I am approaching it just like that. To be honest, I approach every fight like it’s a world championship fight. Guys when they fight me, they fight over their head. Guys we see on tape aren’t the guys we see at fight time. There is no such thing as taking a guy light with me. This is a big, big thing so I am going to get up for this fight like I do for every fight. So being at this, you know, larger magnitude I’ve never been at as a professional
I’m approaching it accordingly. To sum it up, I’m fired up about this.
GM: How do feel you’re at as a fighter in terms of your development?
AW: I feel right on time. I feel like this fight being ten rounds, being the main event, the caliber of opponent that I will be facing, it’s all right on time. What you have to understand, trying to master anything is a process. I don’t care if you’re a writer or a mechanic. Whatever you do it takes time to hone your skills. I’m not sure people understand that. I’ve been an amateur for twelve years and a pro for three. People get ahead of themselves at times. They get excited. They don’t get what a championship belt is. We’re not just trying to get the belt. God willing we’re trying to get the belt and keep the belt.
GM: Right, right.
AW: To answer your question, the timetable is right where we need to be. Everything is happening right when it should.
GM: Is there any particular style that you haven’t faced that you’d like to?
AW: Thus far as a professional, I think I’ve answered, I won’t say every question but I’ll say a lot of questions. I think people get a misconception of my style. I guess at times I make it look easy but the thing that has to be emphasized is that every time I step into the ring I am being tested.
GM: That last fight [against Francisco Garcia 16-2, 8 KO’s] that was a big step up for you. He was coming to win. What do feel before a fight like that? Is there a sense of tension during the fight?
AW: That’s what it’s all about. I’m not up here with a silver spoon in my mouth. No one gave me a Gold Medal. I earned a Gold Medal. By the grace of God I am going to go forth and fulfill a dream. You know, Cantrell was dissing me at the press conference yesterday about me winning the Gold Medal. It’s like I said I earned that Gold Medal. By the power of God and the grace of God I was able to go out and execute. It was ten, eleven hard years of preparation. Ten, eleven hard years of dreaming and it finally came true. I think that people do resent that. They get these distorted thoughts and distorted views about ‘Well, he hasn’t been tested.’ You know, I get tested every day in training. I get tested every day in preparation. When I sacrifice I get tested. So the tests have been there. The answers have been there. I guess days like this is just for the public to see.
GM: What do you see, in terms of your development, early on there was a lot of hype, a lot of pressure coming out and being a Gold Medalist. There is always that kind of weight on particularly Gold Medalists.
GM: But as a fighter, when you are in the ring, what do see different now as opposed to your first couple pro fights? You seem very relaxed in your last fight.
AW: I think just settling in. Relaxed is a good word. In the amateurs I was focused on hitting and not getting hit. It’s the point system so my thing was don’t let him touch me. Don’t let him throw anything that could even look like a point. Getting in and getting out. But then you understand in the pros that, hey, I gotta hit you. I got time. I got time to do what I got to do. I got six rounds. Now I got eight. Now I got ten. Hey, if a guy hits me I don’t have to get it right back. I can take my time and I can settle in and let the fight come to me. And I think that’s the main thing. Just settling in and understanding the concept of time.
GM: Is it more that you feel you are setting up windows of opportunity? You can test things for a while? You’re talking about taking your time through a fight. You can set up the jab; find out what his guard is like as opposed to before where you just kind of have to put it to the wall.
AW: All those things. All of the above. That just comes with time and experience. Time is the best teacher I believe. We drill everyday. We work every day. We prepare. We do what we have to do as far as our due diligence is concerned. But certain things just come over time. You can push it. It just come and all of a sudden boom it shows up and you’re like ‘Where did that come from? I been working on that for two years.’ So it just clicks. It’s hard to say.
GM: Take the readers into what it feels too, you landed a beautiful punch [to knock Garcia out]. It was kind of a left hook/uppercut.
AW: It was a right hand.
GM: Right hand, left hook.
AW: Actually missed with the right hand and came back with the left hook.
GM: It took him a second to realize he had just been rocked. You both kind of looked at each other
GM: and then he fell. Is there, with that tension that goes into a step up, is there a sense of relief when you land something like that? What’s it feel like to drop somebody like that?
AW: I’ve used this analogy many, many times in my interviews. It feels like hitting a baseball on the sweet spot. That’s what that particular shot felt like. Any time you win it’s a good feeling. It’s satisfying because you put so much into it. Any time you win and look spectacular doing it, even more so. You definitely have a sense of relief. You have a sense of satisfaction. And for me, I didn’t watch the clip too many times. I actually saw more of what I did wrong than the shot itself. So that just gave me a greater desire to go back and keep working. In order for those types of performances to keep happening, I have to keep working. Period.
GM: Where do you see yourself next year? Is it fight by fight? Do you have a game plan in three fights?
AW: Just fight by fight right now. I can’t look past, see past, or even think past Roger Cantrell. For [the duration of training camp] I am going to think, eat, and sleep Roger Cantrell. That’s all that’s on my mind. I can’t really entertain questions of what’s next. And that’s how I approach my whole career. In the amateurs when I had five fights to the National Championship. When I had five fights to the Gold Medal. I didn’t look forward to the Gold Medal. I’m focusing on one moment in time at a time. Then I will go to the next.
GM: The world title will take care of itself?
GM: How long do feel you will fight at this weight?
AW: I’m not having any trouble with it. I have to be conscious of what I am eating. I mean I always have been. The last week we have to watch carefully. Nothing too strenuous. I feel I won’t be here too long. I walk around 180. I can get to 185 if I stopped training but I rarely do. I’m walking around 180; to some people they say ‘Oh you should fight at 160.’ But I’m not going to kill myself to make 160. If you know how to fight, if you know how to box, a guy can be bigger than you and it’s not a problem. I’ve been doing this long enough to where I know how to offset that.
GM: How would you describe your style?
AW: I don’t know. I don’t think I have a style. I think I’m kind of formless.
GM: Kind of like Bruce Lee.
AW: (smiles) Yeah. Kind of like Bruce Lee.
GM: Their style dictates your style?
AW: Yeah. To adapt to whatever comes my way. If I need to come forward. If I need to be on defense. I can’t even explain it. I don’t think anyone can put a finger on my style. ‘When he does this, when he does that, we’re going to do this and we’re going to offset that.’ You can’t really put a finger on it.
GM: Whatever the other guys brings then that’s what you are going to do.
AW: I think that is the major thing about being a champion. Floyd, he just had his press conference. And one thing he said was that Floyd Mayweather is able to adapt to any style at any given weight. I want to be like that.
GM: How many years you think you will fight?
AW: It’s hard to say. It’s hard to say. I know I won’t be doing this forever. I don’t want to. I don’t want to do it forever. My thing is I’m a Christian man as well. It’s well documented. I let God lead my path. I know he’s called me to do this for a season in time. My thing is I’m just going to max out and he’ll let me know when it’s time. And I have a feeling is going to be at time when people think and say ‘Why you retiring. There’s still money on the table. There’s still years to go.’ That’s when I think it’s going to be time. But I don’t know when exactly that’s going to be. I know my testimony’s not going to be…I don’t want to limp into the Hall of Fame.
GM: Right. Right. You want to enjoy it when you get there.
AW: I want to walk into the Hall of Fame. That’s just my mindset. If I continue to keep God first, which I will and continue to prepare myself, the day will come when I can walk away from the sport a whole man having maxed out and doing it all and fulfilling God’s purpose for me to be in this sport.
GM: If you had a choice between a long title run at one weight class or being a multi-division champion who has a couple fights, picks up a belt and moves on to the next weight class, what would you choose?
AW: That’s hard to say. Time will tell but if I had to say I’d say move up in weight. I kind of like that scenario. I kind of like winning a few times and then moving up and meeting a new challenge. I think it’s healthy for the body as you get older and I think it helps. I look at what Bernard did it’s unbelievable but how much damage did he do trying to make that weight year after year after year? Then he goes up to 175 and looks like Superman physically and even performance wise because his body was craving ‘Just feed me. Just let me fill out. Let me grow.’ And he finally did and I think it showed. I don’t want to stay at one weight class forever when I know deep down I should move up. I kind of like the latter scenario. Possibly winning a championship and moving up a few times. I’ve always kind of liked that. Like Floyd. He may not have always had the best performances but you got to admire what he did. He’s not a 147 pounder by any means. Size wise he’s really a natural 140 pounder. But just to see what he did it’s exceptional. Exceptional. You have to respect it.
GM: How high do you think you could fight?
AW: I play around at times. My dad was a big man. My mother is 5’8”. I do believe that possibly maybe a fight or two, maybe a fight at heavyweight. Hard to say. Just the way the body feels, I still feel like I’m growing. I may be getting a little taller. You hear different scenarios about when people stop growing. I really feel like I am still growing and I know I am going to fill out in time. It may be a Roy Jones/Mackie Shilstone type thing where you bulk up for the right fight. The right situation. It may be time to go for it. You never know.
Stay tuned Pounders as DoghouseBoxing.com’s Gabriel Montoya continues his series “The Road to St. Lucia” all this week live from the island.
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