On the phone with Andre Ward - By John J. Raspanti - Doghouse Boxing News

On the phone with Andre Ward
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (March 19, 2013)

Andre Ward
"I'm going to comeback stronger" - Andre Ward

Andre 'S.O.G.' Ward is undefeated in 26 professional bouts.
He’s the WBA, RING and WBC super middleweight champion. 

Ward is coming off  his most impressive victory. Last September, he dismantled light heavyweight champion "Bad" Chad Dawson in 10 rounds. Prior to defeating Dawson, he captured the WBC portion of his belts by dethroning Carl Froch in Atlantic City. That victory earned the 2004 Olympic gold medalist the top spot in Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic.
I first met Ward nearly four years ago at Kings Gym in Oakland, Ca. He was preparing to meet Mikkel Kessler in round one of the tournament. We sat on an old wood bench that ran along the wall of the gym. Surrounding us were vintage boxing posters from the past. Two heavy bags hung in silence. Loud music blasted out of the speakers. Ward's focus impressed me. I was convinced he would defeat Kessler (which he did by TKO in round 11).
Ward’s career is on hold after he underwent surgery in January to repair a damaged left shoulder injured while training for a fight with former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. 
Last week I spoke with the 29-year-old champion about his injuries, bouts, rivalries, and feelings regarding steroid use in professional boxing.
John J. Raspanti: How’s the shoulder rehabilitation coming along?
Andre Ward: It’s going great. I’ve tried to keep the fans and the media abreast along the way. I didn’t want to disappear during this process. Ultimately, right now I’m ahead of schedule. The challenge for me is not getting too far ahead. Everything is feeling good. The shoulder is feeling stronger. I’m going to comeback stronger. I really mean that.

 JJR: Do you have a target date for your return?

 AW: To be honest with you, we do have a date we’re looking at, but it’s a little premature right now. I’ll tell you this, when I hit four months after the operation (in May) that’s when I can go all out. In the meantime, I’m doing my conditioning and rehab. We might even do an open workout around that time to show everyone where I’m at. 

 JJR: I know what a competitive person you are. How frustrating is it being sidelined when other fighters are calling you out? 

AW: (laughing) Actually, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone call me out since Chad Dawson. I hear people mention my name during the course of an interview. That being said, yeah it’s frustrating. But, you know John, all of these things, the good and the bad, they make you who you are. I know how I’m feeling right now man. I’m fired up. I’m just biting at the bit. I’m just excited to be returning.     

  JJR: Do you get annoyed at the suggestion of some that you might be a little brittle?

  AW: It’s always going to be something. You look at the postponement in my fight against Froch. There’s nothing I could about do that (Ward was cut during training - JJR). Things happen, but you know I have to be realistic about the time I’ve put into this sport. I’m not an iron man. I’ve been doing this for twenty years. To me it’s more about how you come back. I’ve had these tough fights the last few years. It takes it’s toll.  

JJR: Young pro James DeGale and his promoter have mentioned fighting you. Can you get up for a fight against DeGale?  

AW: I’ve never had trouble getting up for anybody. What blows me away is the opponent, and his team.  They set times and dates of when they want fto ight me. That makes me laugh. I’ve never even seen DeGale fight. In a year or so, who knows, but at this point in my career I’m past just trying to make fights. I’m trying to make meaningful fights – fights that mean the most to my legacy. Also, fights that the fans and the networks want to see. 

 JJR: Would you like to fight undefeated middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin if he moves up to one hundred and sixty-eight pounds?

  AW: Oh yes, if he moves up to one sixty-eight then he’s in my neighborhood. At some point, we’ll have to do something. You can’t live close to somebody for a long time without eventually speaking. He moves up to one sixty-eight and keeps winning, then absolutely that’s something that could happen and should happen. 

 JJR: In two years you’ll be thirty-one years old. Will you be fighting as a light heavyweight? 

AW: How old did you say I was?

 JJR: (laughing) I don’t mean now. I said in two years. I know you’re twenty-nine.

 AW:(chuckling) Ok, just checking. It could be sooner than that two-year period. Personally, that’s something I’m looking forward to. I won’t have to struggle to make weight. It will be nice to just train and build my body up. Also, I want to be a multi-divisional champion. That’s something I’ve always wanted to do. 

 JJR: Your two rivals, Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler will be fighting for the second time in a few months. Whom do you see winning that fight? 

 AW: Stylistically it’s a fifty-fifty fight. I think Froch, though he’s been in some tough fights, has more left in the tank. He’s fought better competition since their first fight. He still seems to be going strong. Kessler has had some layoffs and injuries. I can’t see Kessler getting his hand raised, especially in England.

 JJR: Kessler has made some disparaging comments recently regarding his fight with you. Why do you think he’s doing this?

 AW: At the end of the day, I know that some of the things he and his team are saying are excuses. It’s unfortunate. I think it looks bad for him. His excuses have been mounting by the day. Kessler didn’t think that (Ward beating him) would happen. He didn’t have to come to Oakland. He’s the world champion. I had to fight the best fighter in the tournament at the time. The trade-off was that they had to come to Oakland. They had no problem with it. Then you hear the excuses. To be honest, I’ve lost respect for Kessler and Carl Froch because of the way their making excuses. You win some and lose some. I think you should be standup about it. Both of those guys have been ridiculous. 

 JJR: Would you go overseas to fight the winner?

 AW: It’s a tough thing because I’m not really focused on either guy. The only reason we’re talking about these guys is because they make headlines. If they feel there’s been an injustice - then I’d be willing to give them a rematch. That’s kind of where I am. I’d also entertain a fight in the UK. I’m not running from that.

  JJR: Give me your opinion about steroid use in boxing. Is it a major problem?

  AW: I don’t know fundamentally the difference between an anabolic steroid and a testosterone. Seeing all the guys that have issues over the years – I didn’t know it was this big of a issue in the sport of boxing. In the last two or three years there’s been a lot of eyebrow raising that has taken place for one reason or another. I don’t want to say it’s becoming a epidemic in the sport of boxing, but it’s definitely a serious problem. With companies like VADA, USADA, and even the commissions – I hope that their more aware and have a desire to catch people that are cheating. I’m concerned with the guy who is gaining an advantage by doing something willfully. I don’t think I’ve been in the ring with anyone like that. When you see guys come out of fights that test positive it really upsets you because they can really do harm or damage an individual in the ring. At the same time, I think we’re actively dealing with it.

 JJR: Thanks Andre, it’s always great to talk to you.

  AW: Alright John, lets stay in contact.

  JJR: You bet.
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