Written by: Lewis from SquareCircle Boxing
As a fight fan, when the news broke that Andre Ward was leaving the ring behind, my initial reaction was disappointment but not total surprise. Disappointment because we wouldn’t see one of the finest pound for pound fighters compete again, but not surprise because Ward has always been someone who has put a lot of thought into crafting his boxing career and legacy. I remember watching an interview with Ward where he spoke about how hard it was to watch his boxing hero Roy Jones Jr continue to fight way past his prime. Ward saw it as a personal challenge to make sure he retired while he was on top, on his terms, with faculties intact.
This mentality, along with a couple of other factors lead to Ward’s retirement. One of these factors was the lack of superfights out there that could motivate Ward to carry on. The Kovalev trilogy was an interesting option, but having won the previous two, the second convincingly, I don’t think he felt he had anything left to prove. Adonis Stevenson was another fight that some called for, though this fight had plenty of opportunity to materialise before now and failed to do so. It clearly was not a big motivator for Ward. It’s also known that Ward got paid very well for the Kovalev bouts, so either of those fights would likely have been a significant pay cut.
The other factor that played into his retirement was his body. Ward has spoken in the past about the brutal training he must go through to get himself in shape for fights, at 33 it now appears that he has recognised that this has become too much, stating in his farewell message that his body ‘can no longer put up with the rigors of the sport’.
With a perfect professional record of 32-0, several title defences against top oppositions at super middleweight and then going on to win titles at light heavyweight, Andre ‘Son of God’ Ward has certainly earned the right to retire when he feels the time is right. Whilst he wasn’t as active as some would have hoped, it should be noted that this was not all entirely his fault, there were several problems throughout his prime with promotor issues and injuries that contributed to this inactivity. Despite this I still believe that he will be regarded as one of the best to ever do it.
This is a retirement that should be celebrated as it is rare for a champion to retire on top. It is always frustrating for fans to watch on as their idols fail to exit the game gracefully. Ali, Tyson, Jones jr, Holyfield and many others went on far too long past their prime, unfortunately it puts an asterix next to their name when reflecting on their greatness. Let’s hope Ward heeds these lessons from history and doesn’t get lured out of retirement. As one of the most articulate, intelligent and charismatic fighters there is, surely a long career in pundit.