In some perhaps unexpected news, boxing’s arguable pound-for-pound best has decided to end his decorated career. WBA-IBF-WBO light heavyweight champion Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) made his retirement official in a statement released on his website:
To the sport of boxing – I love you. You’ve been by my side since I was 10-years-old. You’ve taught me so much. You’ve humbled me. You’ve promoted me. I’ve sacrificed a lot for you, but you’ve given me more than I ever thought possible. You gave me a platform, made me a champion and helped me provide for my family. I am forever grateful to you. You and I will always be synonymous, connected at the hip. Thank you for all the wonderful people I’ve come in contact with because of you. I’ve made friends for life. As I walk away from the sport of boxing today, I leave at the top of your glorious mountain, which was always my vision and my dream. I did it. We did it.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has played a part in my journey. You know who you are. I could not have done this without you. 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 I cannot give my family, my team, and the fans everything that I have, then I should no longer be fighting. Above all, I give God the Glory, for allowing me to do what I’ve done, for as long as I have.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED ✌ https://t.co/FTBBwubLsd pic.twitter.com/dtQppu8pAZ— Andre S.O.G. Ward (@andreward) September 21, 2017
Ward was a gold medalist in the 2004 Olympics, and is still the most recent male American Olympic champion. The first major world title the Californian captured was Mikkel Kessler’s WBA super middleweight (168 lbs) belt in 2009, as part of the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament. After wins over Allan Green, Sakio Bika, and Arthur Abraham, Ward defeated WBC champ Carl Froch in the Super Six final in 2011, leaving no doubt that he was the world’s best 168-pound fighter.
In his first post-Super Six fight, Ward destroyed Chad Dawson (who was coming down in weight to challenge him), but injuries rendered him inactive for more than a year. What really set Ward’s career back was his prolonged legal battle with his former, now-deceased promoter Dan Goossen, as Andre tried to break out of his contract. Ward finally severed ties with Goossen Promotions and signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports in January 2015, nearly two full years since his win over Edwin Rodriguez.
After a tune-up victory against Paul Smith, Ward signed a multi-fight deal with HBO, culminating in a light heavyweight championship showdown vs. Russian powerhouse Sergey Kovalev in November 2016. Despite suffering a 2nd round knockdown, Ward rallied to take a close unanimous decision, handing Kovalev the first loss of his career and also taking his WBA, WBO, and IBF belts. An immediate rematch was booked for this past June, and this time Ward pulled off the stoppage in the 8th round. There was some controversy over the legality of his fight-finishing “body” punches, but there was no denying that he’d hurt him with a clean head shot in the build-up to the TKO. Most boxing publications and pundits have had Ward as the #1 pound-for-pound fighter, more so after the Kovalev rematch.
Ward’s contract with HBO had expired on the Kovalev rematch, and evidently the “Son of God” has decided to hang up the gloves on that note.
Whether or not you found Ward entertaining to watch, he was an excellent, highly-skilled and intelligent boxer with a dominant career dating back to the amateurs. He’ll definitely end up in the Hall of Fame up in Canastota, New York. We might see Ward in the analyst role more often down the line, where he’s picked up work for both ESPN and HBO over the years.
2017 has seen the retirements of Floyd Mayweather (again), Wladimir Klitschko, Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley, Robert Guerrero, and now Andre Ward. Miguel Cotto is also expected to follow suit after he has his final fight in December.