When pound for pound talk starts, there is one fighter that everyone has at the top of their list, the being Floyd Mayweather Jr. When it comes to the second best, there is just as little debate, as Andre ‘S.O.G’ Ward has fought the very best in his weight class and remained undefeated while doing it. The only debate revolving Ward is whether or not the best fighters below his weight class should come up in weight to face him.
In part 1 of my interview with Andre Ward, I get his thoughts on 2013 in which he made his comeback to the sport and ask him about when he thinks he will be returning to the ring. I also talk with Andre about his promotional issues that have caused him to file suit against his promoter and could effect his ring return. Additionally I speak to Andre about possible fights with both Carl Froch and Gennady Golovkin, and which of those fights is more likely. Here is what Andre Ward had to say.
Jenna J: Andre, you had just 1 fight last year, how did it feel to return against Edwin Rodriguez?
Andre Ward: My 2013 was rough, but you can’t just take the peaks, you gotta take the valleys too, and a lot of times with years like I had last year in 2013 from a physical stand point, a business standpoint, that just made me stronger.
I learned a lot, I matured a lot, and it really stretched me and my faith in God and the things that I talk about. I actually had to walk them out because we had some rough challenges in 2013, but we got through it.
I fought only once, but I physically in the ring, I felt great. I appreciate all the positive feedback that I got, but let me tell you, we’re working to turn that up and take that to another level. What people saw in my last fight, we’re getting ready to turn it up in 2014.
Jenna: So when will fans see you return to the ring?
Ward: We’re in the process of trying to lock down a date and as a team figure out what the next move is gonna be. You know there’s always periods before a fight is made where there are several options, several dates, several directions we can go.
We gotta eliminate what’s not realistic and focus on what is realistic. That’s what we’re in the process of doing. As always, as soon as something becomes solid and as soon as I’m able to talk about it, the fans will be the first to know.
Jenna: Edwin went in with the style to try to rough you up, similar to what Sakio Bika did. What allowed you to be prepared for what he was gonna do in the ring, and why didn’t it give you troubles like it did with Bika?
Ward: Well I don’t think Bika gave me the kind of trouble that nobody else has. If you look at all of Bika’s fights, it’s a lot of mauling. I think I had 2 or 3 cuts from the Bika fight and they were all from fouls, head butts, elbows, it was just that kind of fight. I think in that fight we showed that we can win an ugly affair and you have to be able to win an ugly fight as well as a pretty fight, we were able to bully the bully.
Jenna: What were your thoughts on the Froch-Groves fight, and how it ended?
Ward: I think George Groves did exactly what he said he was gonna do, he said he was gonna meet Froch in the center of the ring, and he said that he was gonna beat him from the start, and he set the tone. He wasn’t afraid or intimidated of Froch, and I think Froch was trying his normal tactics before the fight, trying to intimidate you and talk a big game, but Groves wasn’t buying it.
We saw a young fighter, but a hungry fighter who had not had that championship experience, but his deal kept him in the fight early on. He obviously dropped Froch, I think he was way up on the score cards. Froch had his moments, he had a couple moments and he had his moments when the fight got stopped, but I think in any championship fight, especially in your first one, there’s always a moment or two when you gotta weather a storm to get to that other side of the fight.
There’s always a storm you gotta weather and I don’t think George Groves got a chance to weather the storm. I don’t think the fight should have been stopped, especially in a championship fight.
Jenna: Andre, it seems like a rematch between Froch and Groves is not going to happen. Does that open the door for you to have a rematch with him instead?
Ward: I think that’s an option for sure. Like I said from the beginning, after our first fight, we’ve been looking Froch’s way. Froch kept talking and he actually was quiet for about 6 months after our fight, then all of the sudden he started building steam in the UK, making excuses, doing what Carl Froch does.
That drummed up interest primarily from the UK, and specifically from his fans, so obviously I went to the UK to call the Froch-Kessler 2 fight, and there was just a lot of buzz and a lot of interest in the rematch because he’s convinced some people that he got a raw deal or he’ll be better the second time around.
If he feels like that, I’m happy to give him another opportunity, it’s not something I’m kicking the door down to do, but I’m open for it. That’s one avenue that my team is looking at to see the validity of it.
Jenna: When it comes to your return Andre, people see the headlines, and know you have filed suit against your promoter Dan Goosen. Where do things stand with that?
Ward: Historically any time a fighter files a lawsuit against a manager or promoter, it’s always shunned, its always looked at like its a horrible thing, “What is this guy doing trying to get our of his contract? His promoter got him to where he is.” It’s just unfortunate and like I said, historically fighters are at the bottom of the totem pole.
They’re specifically responsible for building it, yes there’s a team, but if a fighter goes out there and doesn’t perform, there’s nothing a promoter or the manager can do, they lose leverage, they lose the power at the negotiating table.
It’s not just one person building the fighter, its a collective effort, but for me to go this far to do what I’m doing, it’s for a reason, and I think before people pass judgment or try to give one side of the story, they should just look at the process unfold and see what happens.
Jenna: I had Gennady Golovkin on the show before you, and he said would like to fight you, but after he has unified the middleweight division. What are your thoughts on fighting him?
Ward: The thing is this, I respect Golovkin and I feel like we will meet at some point. Golovkin’s trainer is more vocal when it comes to insulting guys or bragging or doing a lot of the talking. I just don’t understand, they built their reputation on saying they’ll fight anybody, anywhere, anytime, from 160 to 175.
Now the trainer says it’s about business, but his whole reputation is built on being this fearless puncher, this guy who will fight anybody, anytime, but now they say they want to stay at 160 to deal with that division, and that’s fine but again, I scratch my head because initially, anybody, anywhere, anytime but now you hear the trainer come out and say, “Oh it’s about the business side, and the business needs to match up.”
At the end of the day you can’t get mad at the trainer for taking a shot and trying, but I think a lot of that stuff is wishful thinking when it comes to some of the stuff he says. I just gotta continue to do what I’m doing, you’re gonna have critics that say I need to do this and I need to do that.
I’m gonna keep doing what I gotta do, just like me and my team have done from day one. Just stay focused on what we’ve gotta do, and I think that fight is gonna be a tremendous fight when it does come around, but I think with him coming out and saying that, people gotta lay off of this “You’re ducking Golovkin, fight Golovkin” thing because he’s coming out and saying it out of his own mouth, and I just think people need to understand that.