Virgil Hunter: “There was really no money in an Adonis Stevenson fight, so it was a good time to consider retirement”

8 Submitted by on Thu, 28 September 2017, 22:22

Boxing trainer, Virgil Hunter is one of the few coaches in the sport who has worked with a star boxer throughout his entire career, as he started working with Olympic gold medalist and two division world champion, Andre Ward from the age of nine, to his final bout at age thirty-three. Andre Ward recently retired after definitively beating former world champion Sergey Kovalev via an eighth round knockout and leaving the sport undefeated with a 32-0 (16KO) record. He also leaves the sport as the world best pound for pound fighter, having attained that recognition with his victories over Kovalev.

In part 1 of my “On The Ropes” boxing radio interview with Viril Hunter, I get his thoughts on Andre Ward’s decision to retire and his views on why now was the right time to hang up the gloves. Hunter also talks about Ward’s opinions had he decided to continue, with fights with Adonis Stevenson and a move to Cruiserweight being talked about prior to his retirement. Additionally, Virgil talks about a possible comeback for Ward and if there are any fights that could bring him back. Here is what Virgil Hunter had to say.

Jenna J: Andre Ward made a big decision in his career and chose to retire from boxing. What talks did you two have that went into that decision?

Virgil Hunter: That was something that we talked about from the very beginning, him retiring on top with his money to live comfortably with everything intact. There wasn’t much more for him out there as far as I’m concerned, even in the light heavyweight division. In the last camp, he and I discussed it even though I feel like he’s on top of his game right now, and he does too. This was just a good time to go, why stay? There’s always going to be money there, so why stay when you set yourself for life?

Jenna J: There were options for him there, there was Adonis Stevenson and the other move which would have been risky was to move up to either cruiserweight or heavyweight. How realistically were any of those fights?

Virgil Hunter: Well, Stevenson can only fight in Canada and there was really no money in that fight. Nobody put up the money for that fight, and once you make a certain amount of money, it’s only right that you continue to stay on that pay scale. Stevenson was not going to bring in that kind of money to the table because he only fights in Canada.

Moving up to cruiserweight and things, that was a negotiation situation that takes time and you don’t even know if it’s going to materialize. That’s what was open to us, either the move up in weight and fight somebody that could bring money to the table, or fight for less money. It was a good time to consider retirement since it was on the books anyways, so that’s what we did.

Jenna J: You know the history of the sport better than anyone, and you know that when a fighter retires, the next guy comes up and establishes himself and then occasionally that old fighter gets drawn back into the sport to fight that younger fighter. Do you think can be lured out of retirement?

Virgil Hunter: No, Andre is cut from a different cloth. He never looked to be a superstar in boxing and I told people from day one when he turned pro, they asked me “Do you think he’s going to be a superstar?” and I said, “No, he will just beat superstars.” He’s not cut that way, he understands life, he’s very mature and he did what he was supposed to do on his money making days, he did exactly what he was supposed to do. So nobody can lure him out of retirement, he’s not going to be that guy.

Jenna J: Andre has a commentary career to fall back on, but do you ever see him getting into the training aspect of things?

Virgil Hunter: No, I don’t see him getting into training. He’s managing Shakur Stevenson, so there’s a possibility that if the right fighter comes along, then he would manage. But I definitely don’t see him in the training part of it. I don’t think fighters such as him would make good trainers anyway. He has broadcasting and he has a lot of ability to start a lot of other things for himself in life. He’s set and I’m proud of him. I just reflect to when he was nine years old and we’d talk about these things, and to have it all come to fruition just like we planned it out, it’s a wonderful thing.

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8 Responses to "Virgil Hunter: “There was really no money in an Adonis Stevenson fight, so it was a good time to consider retirement”"
  1. TheThirdEye says:

    *Well, Stevenson can only fight in Canada:
    That’s a lie, Stevenson can fight everywhere and would have fought in the states for the Undisputed title.
    There was really no money in that fight:
    That’s a lie, Stevenson made 3 million against Bika, since, his minimum purse was an average of 3 million per fight, not for superfights, only per fights.
    Nobody put up the money for that fight:
    That’s a lie, they didn’t even try to communicate with Stevenson, they were carefully avoiding every questions about Adonis Stevenson or the Undisputed subject.
    Once you make a certain amount of money, it’s only right that you continue to stay on that pay scale:
    That’s true, but Ward made 2 million against Smith, 1.85 million against Barrera and 850k to fight Brand, while Stevenson minimum pay scale was already locked at 3 million per fights, US currency. Stevenson purse value would have been much more for Superfights.
    Stevenson was not going to bring in that kind of money to the table because he only fights in Canada:
    That’s a lie, Stevenson purse average was higher than Kovalev, not to mention Kovalev biggest payday ever was against Jean Pascal in Canada “US Currency”, not to mention, sometimes Stevenson training camp is at Traverse City Michigan, which mean Stevenson has no limitation to fight out of Canada, if the purse is right.
    Why no body try to communicate with Stevenson to get his version, I guess no one wants to hear it.
    Initially, Ward moved up to 175Lbs, after being called by Kovalev, to bypass the Stevenson threat.
    Ward started to joke about Stevenson, like: “He will have to ask Al to come out & play”.
    Stevenson congratulate & Challenge Ward after his victory over Kovalev, but Ward says: “why now, I’m not even thinking about this guy right now”. In a UK conference, Ward says: “no disrespect to Stevenson, but he is a step back”, Ward also says he would rather fight in a big UK stadium, and maybe meet guys like “Cleverly”.
    In the meantime, Ward says between him and Stevenson it has to make sense.
    After Ward second victory over Kovalev, Stevenson congratulate Ward again and says lets fight for the Undisputed title, but Ward repeated: “it has to make sense”.
    After Badou Jack easy victory over Cleverly, Stevenson congratulate Jack and challenge him to fight before the Undisputed matchup come to fruition, saying: “Ward is wasting time beating around the bushes, Ward is acting like a princess”.
    Ward sounds off til the Crawford Undisputed fight. After the insistence of a reporter, Ward says he fought Kovalev twice while Stevenson didn’t fight him once, just seconds after feinting his own interest to become Undisputed too.
    Just 4 weeks ago, Ward attempted to settle a fight with an Eddie Hearn guy “Frank Buglioni” in UK, which was turned down by Buglioni & HBO. RocNation’s choice was to fight Stevenson next, HBO’s choice was to fight Stevenson or challenging heavier opponents. But Ward/Hunter plan was well calculated, Bellew & Joshua belongs to promoter Eddie Hearn, therefore it was fairly easy for Ward to show some appearance of negotiations while maintaining his lie about going up in weight. I mean, while maintaining discussion with promoter Eddie Hearn, Ward was not really planning to change weight, he was only preparing himself to milk his titles with the lesser opponents Hearn has in his stable, from the LHW division.
    But when ROC & HBO rejected the softer “Buglioni” choice, Ward didn’t want to take the risk of fighting Stevenson even if the reward was to become Undisputed; Ward retired instead.
    If old Stevenson was that easy & cheap, why the #1 pound-for-pound didn’t fight him just to pick his WBC Lineal belt, just to become Undisputed? I guess Virgil Hunter didn’t like what he saw, when he felt Stevenson strength in Canada. I mean, when Virgil literally jumped on the ring to stopped the Fonfara’s destruction.

  2. TheThirdEye says:

    Ward/Hunter may try to flip it as they wish, making the fans believe lies like going up in weight for Joshua or coming back to sport against the right “YOUNG” rising challenger. Ward may come back, but they can’t erase or bypass actual events. Andre Ward ducked Adonis Stevenson for the Undisputed matchup. I mean, the duck was so strong, it was a career retirement.

    • Adonis Stevenson says:

      Sorry my man, what he say is true. I only go for the knockout, and I only knockout people IN CANADA. When you become a pimp you can do what you want and fight who you want.

  3. Kylie says:

    Honestly, I don’t believe that. Stevenson would love that fight, I think Ward did not want to take the risk, so he retired instead. Stevenson has left his country, the same can’t be said for Ward.

  4. QUACK says:


  5. Yvon Michel, promoter for WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson says:

    So he is claiming there was not enough money for the fight and Ward would have been paid less than his fights with Kovalev. We all know Ward was way overpaid for his fights with Kovalev. In a 50/50 split deal with Kovalev, on all revenues produced by the events, Ward would have got less than half the money he was paid. In fact, Ward’s purse alone was more than the total revenues generated by the events.

    The reason he was paid that much was because the generosity of his own promoter Roc Nation who subsidized him with millions to convince him to take the fights. Ward’s gains over the 50% of all incomes of the event were his promoter’s losses. A promoter can’t do that kind of business forever if he wants to stay in the business.

    It is obvious a Stevenson-Ward event would have generated more total revenues than each of the two Ward-Kovalev fights because it would have been about the same in USA and international sales but the Canadian market would have contributed several millions in PPV sales, something that was not there for the two Ward-Kovalev events. But even the Canadian contribution would not have been enough to satisfied the needs of Ward who would have requested, according to Virgil Hunter, more money to fight Stevenson. We know now that his promoter was no longer interested to subsidizing his purse.

    Andre Ward was an exceptional fighter a great personality and a model for the youth. He brought dignity, respect and was an asset for boxing. But he was not a popular fighter in term of ticket sales and PPV. As the obvious A side in the fight against Stevenson it would have been his responsibility to generate revenues in USA at the level of other stars like Mayweather, Pacquiao, Alvarez and Cotto – if he wanted to be paid at their level. That was not the case.

    On top of that Stevenson is a much more complete fighter then Sergey Kovalev, much higher boxing HQ, much better inside fighter in his southpaw style. Stevenson posed a much greater danger to blemish Ward’s perfect record. The equation made by Ward’s team was – ‘greater risk and overall less money’ and the decision was made to retire.

    So it is ridiculous now to try to twist the story and try to blame the dangerous WBC champion Adonis Stevenson. The fact Adonis is fighting from Canada would only have been a great asset in term of revenues for that fight no matter where it would have been held, not the other way around.

  6. rrayvez says:

    Ward already beat the guy Stevenson has blatantly ducked. No sense for ward to wait around for Stevenson because ay the end if the day, Stevenson doesn’t want that smoke. He’s content to fight the Andrew fonfaras of the world. Twice.

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