Today, boxing world froze when Andre “Son of God” Ward (32-0) surprisingly announced that he was retiring. As one of the world’s most underrated and underappreciated talents, it is a must that we savor the greatness that was his unique version of the sweet science.
The announcement caps a heralded career that can also be considered one of the best ever. Ward, the Bay area product, was a boxing prodigy that found his greatness in the squared circle. He began boxing in 1994 when his father took him to a gym, and has not lost a bout since he was a 13-year-old amateur in February 1998.
In 2002, he won the Under-19 National Championship. He was also a two-time U.S. National Champion in 2001 and 2003 at middleweight before finishing his amateur career with a record of 115 wins and only 5 losses.
Ward then became a U.S. Olympian and won the coveted gold medal in the light heavyweight division at the 2004 Athens Olympics. After placing second at the 2004 AIBA Qualifying Tournament, Ward breezed through all competition with wide scorecard margins. The only close score he encountered was a victorious margin of 17-15 in the Olympic semifinals before winning the Gold Medal with a score of 20-13.
Throwback! My pro debut almost 13 yrs ago. LA at the Staples Center. My first fight was on @hboboxing, I was skinny & my nerves were on 10 https://t.co/GDe6MkNKla
Once making his debut in 2004, Ward quickly established himself as a super middleweight. He went on a seven-fight streak of knocking out opponents in 2008 before entering the Super Six World Boxing Tournament towards the end of 2009. The tournament, which was organized by the Showtime Sports, matched the top contenders in the middleweight division against the best up and comers. At the time, Ward was considered a top-rated underdog.
Then titlists Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler were the favorites, alongside former undisputed middleweight champion Jermain Taylor and former middleweight champion Arthur Abraham. Fellow Athens Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell accompanied Ward as the underrated crew of relative upstarts that would eventually shake up the game. Although, Dirrell withdrew after Group 2 going 1-1, Ward was able to outpunch the champion and won a unanimous technical decision to win his first world championship.
An intense one-on-one with two of the world’s best super middleweight boxers: Andre Ward and Carl Froch
The fight was halted in the eleventh round after Kessler, who suffered cuts due to two controversial headbutts, was ruled unable to continue by the ringside doctor. Ward was ahead 9892, 9892 and 9793 and became the WBA super middleweight champion, joining Joe Calzaghe as the only fighters at the time to defeat Kessler.
Ward would go on to defeat Allan Green and then Arthur Abraham and finally met Carl Froch in the Final, where he won a unanimous decision. Ward became the WBA, WBC and The Ring super middleweight champion, shocking the world with his sudden arrival.
The impact of the Super Six Tournament wasn’t evident until later in his career when the world realized that Ward wouldn’t lose the title by any athletic attrition. Ward continued to astonish with a TKO of Chad Dawson, who came down from light heavyweight to challenge the rising star.
The official recap of SHOWTIME’s Super Six World Boxing Classic with Andre Ward and Carl Froch.
Unfortunately, things shifted for Ward while training for a pending matchup against Kelly Pavlik. He sustained a hand injury that would cancel the fight and lead to the retirement of Pavlik.
The WBC then stripped Ward of his title, believing that the injury wasn’t medically justified and instead gave him the status of champion emeritus. Ward took the bold step of relinquishing the champion-emeritus status, believing he was unjustly stripped. Hechallenged the WBC in a move lauded by fight fans.
During this time, a storm was brewing within the Andre Ward business brand and at the center was his longtime promoter, Dan Goossen. The two couldn’t agree on certain aspects of his contract, and although Ward fought Edwin Rodriguez, defeating him handily with a unanimous decision, tough times lie ahead.
Ward sat out of competition for almost two years in arbitration, going to court three times over the issue. When Goossen unfortunately passed away, Ward’s career seemed in future jeopardy until he emerged renewed with Jay Z‘s Roc Nation as his promoter.
A look back at the Nov. 19 light heavyweight showdown between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward. Subscribe to HBO Boxing YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/hboboxing HBO Boxing on Instagram: http://instagram.com/hboboxing HBO Boxing on Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/hboboxing HBO Boxing on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hboboxing HBO Boxing on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HBOboxing HBO Boxing Podcast on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/hboboxing HBO Boxing Official Site: http://www.hbo.com/boxing HBO Sports on HBO GO http://itsh.bo/ij8oqS.
Ward defeated Britain’s Paul Smith at a catchweight in advance of his eventual move to light heavyweight ,where he would eventually cement his legacy. When Ward debuted as light heavyweight, he made no qualms about who his target was – Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev.
The Russian sat on the top of the light heavyweight division after dispatching Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal, the former being one of Ward’s boxing idols.
When they finally met, it ended in controversy with Kovalev taking the loss via unanimous decision very badly. From racial and derogatory social media statements, Kovalev proved ungentlemanly in the gentlemen’s sport.
Ward, however, as he has his whole career, maintained a class and mastery of his craft that will forever define his brand.
Watch some of the best moments of light heavyweight champion Andre Ward. Ward vs. Kovalev 2 happens Saturday, June 17 live on pay-per-view beginning at 9pm ET/6pm PT. Subscribe to HBO Boxing YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/hboboxing HBO Boxing on Instagram: http://instagram.com/hboboxing HBO Boxing on Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/hboboxing HBO Boxing on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hboboxing HBO Boxing on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HBOboxing HBO Boxing Podcast on Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/hboboxing HBO Boxing Official Site: http://www.hbo.com/boxing HBO Sports on HBO GO http://itsh.bo/ij8oqS.
In their second pairing, Ward left no doubts with a TKO stoppage in the eighth round.
Though he lacked the hype value and marketability of fighters like Floyd Mayweather or Oscar de la Hoya, Ward will always stand alone as America’s truest boxing role model and brand ambassador. He took on all challenges, won belts in multiple divisions, and beat the best while they were still considered the best.
23yrs Strong #Re2pect #Hardware #P4P @jumpman23
We salute the most underappreciated champion in boxing history, Andre “SOG” Ward.
His legacy will flourish and be appreciated in time, like all the finest things this world has to offer connoisseurs of the exquisite.