Andre Ward, the reigning WBA/IBF/WBO light heavyweight champion, America’s last Olympic gold medalist, and the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport according to several polls, shocked the boxing universe today, Sept. 21, by announcing his retirement. “From the bottom of my heart,” said the 33-year-old Ward on his web site, “thank you to everyone who has played a part in my journey….I want to be clear – I am leaving because my body can no longer put up with the rigors of the sport and therefore my desire to fight is no longer there.”
If Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) holds to his pledge to retire, he will join Rocky Marciano, Floyd Mayweather Jr. (presumably) and a few other top-notchers who left the sport undefeated.
A pro for almost 13 years, Ward won his first world title at 168 pounds in his hometown of Oakland with an 11th round stoppage of Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler. He made eight successful defenses before moving up to compete as a light heavyweight. In his most recent outing, he scored an eighth round stoppage of Sergey Kovalev, the man from whom he won his light heavyweight belts.
Speaking with a select group of reporters on the eve of his second fight with Kovalev, Ward didn’t rule out chasing a cruiserweight title. If he went that route, his logical opponent was England’s Tony Bellew. They both appeared in the 2015 movie “Creed,” the critically acclaimed “Rocky” spinoff, so a bout between them would be a quirky rematch of sorts. If he stayed at light heavyweight, lucrative matches awaited with Adonis Stevenson and the ever-improving Badou Jack.
History informs us that when a boxer announces his retirement one ought to take it with a grain of salt. If we had to bet, we would wager that Ward will get the itch to fight again. But he has always been forthright and obviously put a lot of thought into his retirement announcement. Moreover, he has the makings of a very good TV boxing analyst.
Regardless of whether his retirement is permanent or not, one can say of Andre Ward that he represented his sport with dignity and class.
This is a developing story. Check back for a more in-depth look at Ward’s career.
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