The undefeated Andre Ward, former Super Middleweight and Light Heavyweight champion, has been the target of callouts ever since he retired in 2017. Some of the biggest names in boxing have tried to get ‘S.O.G’ to lace up his gloves again including Tony Bellew, Adonis Stevenson, Demetrius Andrade, and most recently there were unproven rumors that Canelo Alvarez was interested in that fight.
Perhaps in response to the more recent callout from Demetrius Andrade, Andy Scott from Sky Sports spoke to Ward and asked if he’d ever considered returning to the ring. Andy Scott observed that even in the last fights before his retirement, Ward looked fantastic, to which he gave a lengthy reply –
“That’s pretty much how my life has been in boxing. You know, when people think I should do one thing, I do the next. I’ve had people scratching their head, you know, my whole career. So, I think this is fitting, this makes a lot of sense for me to walk away on top. When people are trying to figure out why, but you know you just put a lot of time in it, and myself similar to Froch, I gave it everything I had, you know. I never cut corners, there wasn’t one training camp that I went to where I said ‘Oh I’m not going to train hard; this guy isn’t that good. If I fought a tune-up fight, I wanted it to look like a tune-up fight, if I fought a top guy, I wanted to beat the top guy. So, my body had enough and ‘Do I miss it?’, man absolutely. I miss it every day, you know, but it’s the right thing to do man. I got to move on to the next phase of my life and I’m not trying to be, I don’t want to look like I’ve been boxing for 20 years! And the fact that people say ‘You still look good. You sound good’, that’s a beautiful thing man and I want to keep it like that.”
It’s a refreshing stance from the retired Hall of Famer, to put his health and legacy above all else. It would have been easy for Ward to keep going until 35, making huge amounts on 3-4 more fights. If he was still boxing last year, he might’ve even been the man to welcome Canelo to the light-Heavyweight division over Sergey Kovalev. While both of Ward’s wins against Kovalev were controversial, at 35 he would’ve been a year younger than Kovalev was when he took on Canelo, with many agreeing his age was a big factor in his lackluster performance. A prime Andre Ward vs a prime Canelo will go down in history as one of the great “What if?” fantasy fights, but that isn’t the fight we would have gotten. While Ward v Canelo in 2019 would have been amazing, it likely wouldn’t have been the best of Ward and it wouldn’t have been the best thing for his legacy.
However, these situations are all ifs and buts. The things we know for certain now are that Ward retired with an untarnished 32-0 record, he is still in great physical and mental health and that at 35, he is still a young man with a lot of years ahead of him with his family and friends.
It’s easy for boxers who reach the very top of the game to lose sight of the world outside of boxing, it’s a smart choice Ward has made, and it’s one we should all respect... We guess.