Andre Ward retires
By Allan Fox: In a surprising move, Andre “SOG” Ward has retired from boxing just 3 months after stopping former light heavyweight champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev in an 8th round knockout on June 17.
It’s unclear what the reasons were for the 33-year-old Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) to hang up his gloves at this time, but it’s likely that lack big paying fights available to him may have something to do with his decision. Ward’s last 2 fights were against Kovalev on HBO PPV. If Ward were to continue his career, it’s possible that he would be back on non-PPV.
There was interest on Ward’s side to fight former WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew in a fight in the UK, but nothing came of that. Bellew will be facing David Haye in a rematch. Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter talked of wanting Ward to move up to heavyweight to challenge IBF/WBA champion Anthony Joshua, but that too failed to happen. Joshua is busy with his mandatory challengers, and he likely wouldn’t be available for a fight against Ward until at least 2019.
The guys at cruiserweight were clearly too big for Ward. He would have had his hands full if he moved up to that weight class and tried to mix it up with champions Oleksandr Usyk, Mairis Briedis, Denis Lebedev and Murat Gassiev.
With little options available for big money fights, Ward would likely have been put in the position to defend his light heavyweight titles against the likes of Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol. Those are both solid fighters, and the outcome wouldn’t be assured for Ward. Beterbiev is an excellent fighter with skills that arguably superior to Ward’s on the inside. That would have been a nightmarish fight for Ward. Bivol is a guy with Golovkin-like power in either hand. That would have been a tough fight as well for Ward, who really had his hands full against Kovalev. Ward appeared to lose the first fight against Kovalev last year in November, but he was given a controversial 12 round decision. The rematch between Ward and Kovalev last June was tainted by what appeared to be three low blows that hit Kovalev just before the stoppage by referee Tony Weeks. Ward won the fight, but it wasn’t much of a win due to the way the fight ended. The reality is there weren’t too many options for Ward at light heavyweight as as far as big money fights. Ward said he wasn’t interested in fighting Adonis Stevenson. Other than him, there was no one else for Ward to fight for a big payday.
Ward will likely focus on his job as a commentator on HBO Boxing. Ward has presumably made enough money during his career in the sport to retire without needing to work a second job. Ward’s gig with HBO as a commentator is a nice job to have. We’ll see how far Ward can go in this field.
Here’s a statement from HBO on Andre Ward’s retirement from boxing:
“Andre Ward ends his boxing career as he only knew how to live it — as a champion at the top,” says Peter Nelson, Executive Vice President, HBO Sports. “To watch Ward was to marvel at constant mastery of craft in the ring, to say nothing of his being the consummate role model outside it. The Hall of Fame will be lucky to have him. We wish Andre and his family much success and happiness as he explores new opportunities, including with our own HBO family as one of the expert analysts on our broadcast team. It was a privilege for HBO to serve as the television platform for many of his landmark achievements in the sport he loves.”