The action on a Thursday conference call to hype Andre Ward's Nov. 16 comeback fight against Edwin Rodriguez, which will unfold in California, and on HBO, got the slightest bit hot and heavy when the subject of drug testing came up.
Rodriguez was asked about drug testing for this fight. He said he brought it up when he got a sponsor, Victor Conte, who would pay for testing for both fighters. Ward (seen in above Hogan photo during fight against Chad Dawson) had said he didn't want to enter into that testing regimen at that time, because it hadn't been discussed during negotiations for the bout. "It wasn't a publicity stunt," Rodriguez said.
Edwin said he's worked with Conte for about 1 1/2 years, and he would be open to being tested by VADA or USADA. Edwin was tested yesterday, and another time, four weeks ago, he stated. Ward was asked about it, and said the issue stands, that it should have been brought up during negotiations. Edwin countered, saying that it seems like Ward is dodging the issue, and he thinks he is clean, so he wonders why Ward wouldn't sign on. Ward continued, and said he doesn't want to be sponsored by Conte, who is associated with his challenger. He would sit down with Dr. Margaret Goodman, and do testing on his terms, he said, but as the challenger, Rodriguez doesn't have the power to demand terms.
Ward was asked about fighting Bernard Hopkins. Ward said he isn't going to call out Hopkins, but would fight Hopkins if it made sense. He said he's more keen to fight the young up n comers, he said. What about a Golovkin, Kovalev or Stevenson? Beating them doesn't catapult him past Floyd Mayweather, he said, and he's fully focused on Rodriguez.
Ward's promoter, Dan Goossen, said that Ward, coming back after shoulder surgery, isn't coming back against a soft touch. He said that Ward, age 29, is keen on regaining his momentum, and can still lay claim to being No. 2 pound for pound, while inching closer to being No. 1.
The 26-0 Ward, who hasn't been in the ring in 14 months, said that he loves this point in camp, where there is still work to be done, but most of the hard work has been done. He thinks he's better than he was before his hiatus, and he isn't taking Edwin lightly. He wants to dominate the fight, he said.
Ward said that this is an era where blood and guts fights get the most buzz, but he does like to bang, when it is called for. He will not cater his style to fit the desires of those seeking tradefests, he said.
His laundry list of injuries, Ward said, has been blown out of proportion, some of them caused by his inexperience. Previous to the shoulder, the injuries have been minor, he said.
Ward said it has been hard dealing with the injury, which needed surgery to heal up his right shoulder. He tore that rotator cuff about 16 or 17 years ago, he said, and now he has a new power in his right hand. "It's a different scenario," he said.
He was asked if he doesn't get as much credit as he should because he's not so boisterous, or braggy. It's possible, he said. He's been made out to be a villain at times, maybe because he speaks out about issues, he said, and he wishes he could be more universally embraced, but that's not going to happen. "It kind of is what it is," he said.
Rodriguez (24-0) said that he feels it's his time, though he's fighting the "number one guy in the world." The Massachusetts boxer said his success fighting in Monte Carlo has helped get him ready to fight a "great" fighter.
"Mentally, I'm prepared, I'm ready," he said, though he noted Ward is a step above what he's faced. But Ward has to adapt to him, just as he has to adapt to him. He said he will have to have success inside and outside, and his progress under trainer Ronnie Shields will pay off for him. He will switch it up, he said, because Ward is smart and picks up on trends.
Ward said he was at 170 last week, and is ready to rock. He said he and his trainer have both been amazed at the pop his right hand has now, as evidenced in camp.
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