In boxing one thing every fighter strives for is legacy. It is how a fighter is defined and often remembered. When it comes to boxing's two biggest stars, legacy is fiercely debated. In part 3 of my "On The Ropes" interview with Andre Ward, I asked a fighter who is building his own legacy how he think Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao compare when it comes to accomplishments in the sport. I also get Andre’s analyst view on the future of Pacquiao and how he thinks he will do in his return to the ring against Brandon Rios. In addition Ward touches on his future in the sport and what fans can expect once he returns to the ring. Here is what Andre Ward had to say
Jenna J: You have talked about legacy before Andre, so I would like to get your thoughts on the debate amongst boxing fans regarding boxing’s two biggest stars, Mayweather Jr. & Pacquiao. Even with Pacquiao's losses, people say Manny fought better competition and will leave behind more of a legacy. When it's all said and done do you think Pacquiao's resume could speak louder then Mayweather's?
Andre Ward: I think Manny has a great legacy, but we got to be honest about some of those fights though. The De La Hoya fight, that's a fight I don't know how it would of played out if De La Hoya had been able to come in full strength, but it's no secret that De La Hoya really had to suck himself down. Cotto had to lose weight. I'm not taking nothing from Pacquiao but with all due respect to Manny you gotta to look at Floyd's resume, and people love to hate Floyd but people have to understand what he has been doing since the 90's, people just totally wiped out the 90's and forgot about it when it comes to Floyd Mayweather.
After Floyd fought Genaro Hernandez, after his first year as a professional, first year and half, the dude didn't not look back, he's fought one good fighter after another and he's beat them. Just compare the De La Hoya fight for Pacquiao, with the one with Floyd. Floyd did not have any say in the ring size, he fought at a weight class above his, I think De La Hoya got to pick the gloves, everything was against Floyd with De La Hoya compared to when Manny fought him.
Jenna J: Why do you think people don't give Floyd credit for the things he has done in the ring?
Andre Ward: I think sometimes people just love to hate Floyd, and maybe it's some of the stuff he does outside the ring, whatever the case might be, but from a boxing stand point, man the dudes legacy is what it is, he's a living legend of our sport and I think people need to stop looking for a reason to take away from it. Him not fighting Manny Pacquiao is not going to have, in my opinion, any effect on his legacy. We don't know all the details of what went on behind the scenes, we think we know, but we don't really know.
I think people just got to understand that the guy is who he is, he's a living legend of our sport, appreciate him while he’s here and just enjoy the ride until it’s over, and the same thing with Manny. He is a great, great fighter, I believe he is going to be a Hall of Famer, and I know he's coming of that tough loss to Marquez, but Manny has fought everybody, he’s kind of a throw back from that standard. So Manny has got his legacy too. I don't think we should compare, I think we should enjoy both guys for the way they did their thing and just enjoy the ride until they both ride off into the sunset and retire.
Jenna J: Andre, since we are speaking of Manny Pacquiao, I'm curious to get your thoughts on his upcoming return to the ring against Brandon Rios. What do you think of that fight, and also how do you think Pacquiao do coming back from the Marquez KO loss?
Andre Ward: Man I don't know, I don't know. This is a tough one to call because neither one of these fighters is going to be hard to find in this fight and people got to remember Brandon is coming off a tough loss too, it was not getting knocked out cold like Manny, but he is coming of a loss too. I think with both fighters coming off of loses that both men are hungry.
It's something about getting your lights turned out like what happened to Manny, not a lot of guys can comeback from that and regain their dominance. Whether it's just confidence or maybe something in the body short circuits and you just can’t take a punch like you once did, but if I think anyone can do it, it's Manny.
I think with Rios, his goal is to show people "Hey I can finish this guy and I want to be the guy who's name is attached to that, plus I'm coming of a loss." I think it's going to be a tremendous battle for however long it lasts, and I don't think it's going to go the distance, but I couldn't tell you who is going to win this fight, but this is a 50/50 fight.
Jenna J: I just got 2 more questions for you Andre. When you return to the ring, hopefully in 2013, what can fans expect from you and what kind of fights can we expect going forward in the future?
Andre Ward: Man I just think that from the injury standpoint, people gotta understand something, and I think they'll realize this once I get back. I did a documentary with my friend and one of the first things I thought of when I got the diagnosis from the doctor was, I can't disappear for 4 or 5 months. And what that means is I wanna document everything that happens from this point until I get back in the ring, and we've done that.
We got real life vulnerable moments on the documentary, going to the doctors at 4 in the morning, getting ready to get surgery, them wheeling me in, we got all that stuff. I think when people see that, they'll realize the depths of the injury. I've already had this injury, I’ve already had a torn rotator since I've been 12 years old, we just fought, we just built the muscles up around it and we used it. But that was fixed, they were able to grab the rotator which wasn't attached and attach it back and I feel like I got a whole new shoulder.
I got a lot of pop in my right hand that I didn’t have before because of the injury, along with the layoff and the different things I've been going through, my hunger is through the roof. So whoever it is and whenever it is, man I think the fans can just buckle their seat belts because I’m going to continue to put on great performances until my career is over.
Jenna J: Alright and finally to the fans, the fans who support you and the fans who follow you on twitter, I know you're very socially active, is there any message you want to pass along to them?
Andre Ward: I appreciate all you guys, I look at the tweets, I look at the instagram, I look at my facebook page, man I got a lot of love out there, it's not all bad. And even to the fans that maybe don't support me, I need you too because you always need that element when people say you can't do something, or "you're not going to be able to pull this off, man your career is over." That kind of stuff keeps you hungry and with both those elements, the supporters and the naysayers, I feel like I’m right where I need to be, so I gotta give a shout out to both sides.
Even to the writers who have their agendas, the ones that don't have anything good to say ever, keep writing, I appreciate it. My name is staying out there even thought it's like they try to give me a bad review, my name is still out there and the good thing about boxing is, no matter what they write about you, you always got that night where you can get in the ring and show them if what that person wrote is valid or what they wrote was not valid.
And to the writers that are fair and honest and call it like they see it, I appreciate you guys too, we need each other, the fighters need the writers and the writers need the fighters so we’re going to keep doing what we're doing and I believe we're going to get in the ring before this year is out and everybody tune in.
Click play on the audio player to listen to the Andre Ward interview in its entirety. - "On The Ropes", with Jenna J.