When Andre Ward decided to retire recently, many were caught off guard due to Ward having established himself as the number one pound for pound fighter in the world after convincingly defeating Sergey Kovalev. Ward stopped Kovalev in only eight rounds, having broken ‘The Krusher’ down with body shots and forcing the stoppage. While there were options for Ward’s next fight, he ultimately retired after those fights did not provide the financial and competitive motivation needed to continue.
In part 2 of my “On The Ropes” boxing radio interview with Virgil Hunter, I discuss with him Andre Ward’s final bout of his career, getting Virgil’s view on why the rematch was different than the first bout. Hunter also talked about lack of credit given to Ward by some with that win and talked about why he thinks people doubted Ward throughout his career. Additionally, Virgil speaks about the health of the sport and its future going forward. Here is what Virgil Hunter had to say.
Jenna J: Can you talk about the rematch between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev and how Ward performed?
Virgil Hunter: We just picked up where we left off the last fight. I think people have to realize that coming off the layoff, to fight a fighter of Kovalev’s caliber, you do need to have fights. We were allowed two fights, so that’s what we had to go on. Kovalev just ran into a guy that doesn’t know how to lose and has so much tenacity and ferocity.
Andre definitely won the first fight, I can understand why people would take Kovalev because they are used to seeing him finish something that he starts. I challenge anyone to sit down with me and watch that fight and show me where Kovalev won. I can definitely show you where we won but so far no takers.
In the second fight, we decided that we were gonna stop him and we made it known to the boxing world, and they laughed at us but that’s okay because they never knew who Andre was or what he was made out of. When that happened, that pretty much closed the door in that situation.
Jenna J: You still always get some people who won’t give Andre credit. What do you think of people who don’t give Andre credit even when he has won?
Virgil Hunter: That’s okay. There’s a passage in the Bible that says, “Woe unto you when all men speak well of you.” We thank those people, that was the motivation and the fuel, and we came out with the last laugh. Of course Kovalev fans are the only ones talking about that.
There are people who are being realistic who realize that Kovalev was going to get stopped regardless of what they want to say finished the fight. He was done even before he got hurt with the right hand, he was pretty much done. If you listen to me in the corner after the seventh round was over, I told Andre to keep doing what he was doing and the fight would be over before ten. Kovalev was done, he had basically given up. He was going through the motions but he never fought anybody with that kind of tenacity.
If you look at the history of boxing, Russian fighters don’t do well when you put them in a dog fight, they just don’t do well. You can go to Kostya Tszyu and Ricky Hatton, you can go to Klitschko with Corey Sanders and Lamont Brewster. You can go on and on, you can go with Jirov against James Toney, who got him in a dog fight, and he conceded. That’s the history of the fight game when it comes to Soviet fighters in the pros when you put them in a dog fight, they give in. That’s not to say all of them do, but the names that I just put out there, they’ve done it.
Jenna J: The sport is in a good spot right now. We recently had two big fights with Mayweather vs. McGregor and Golovkin vs. Canelo. What do you think about where the sport is right now?
Virgil Hunter: I think the sport is thriving. Boxing is not going to go away, regardless of what people say. There’s always room for improvement, and I think as long as they look in that direction to improve the sport, it should remain healthy for a long time.