I RECALL the first time I saw Andre Ward fight.
He was undefeated with less than 20 fights but was putting the hurt on one of the most brutal punchers in the super middleweight division at that time, Edison Miranda.
I immediately thought this kid would surely win a world title and become a superstar.
True enough, he would win several world titles, become a superstar and top the rankings as the sport’s no. 1 pound for pound fighter.
HIGHLIGHTS. After that Miranda victory Ward would go on to defeat several world champions in his division and emerge as champion of the Super Six super middleweight tournament , which featured a unique elimination format wherein the best fighters in the division faced each other with their belts on the line.
Ward was pegged as the dark horse but he would go on to defeat to tournament favorites Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and overcome Carl Froch in the final.
Another highlight of his career was when he defeated light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in a superfight which ended in the 10th round.
Of course he will probably be best remembered for his consecutive wins over the formidable Sergey Kovalev--the first via close decision and the second via stoppage--which would turn out to be his last fight.
LEGACY. I was a bit disappointed when Ward announced his retirement. At 33 years of age, and an immaculate record of 32-0, 16 KOs, there seems to be a lot less wear and tear on the odometer compared to other current champions.
But Ward explained that his body was giving up on him and his desire to fight is gone.
Looking back at his fights, you can easily understand how heavy the toll those brutal wars took on his body.
Ward was a terrific fighter with possibly the best combination of attributes you can imagine. He had terrific speed, knockout power and incredible fight I.Q.
But he also loved getting into exchanges as it was his way of breaking down his opponents and discovering their weaknesses.
To me , “Son of God” will go down as one the top 5 best fighters of this generation.
If this is really goodbye Andre then I wish you the best. Thank you for the memories champ. Cheers!
VERBATIM. “I felt the physicality of the sport -- not just in-the-ring stuff, but the training and the preparation -- start to take its toll on me for the last two or three years, and I bit down and continued to push through. And at this point, it’s time, and I know it’s time.” - Andre Ward (www.espn.com)
LAST ROUND. It’s on Nina Villamor, lovely daughter of Stephen and Ann, who recently turned 18. Cheers Nin!