Andre Ward will never get the credit that he deserves
Andre Ward, the pound-for-pound best active fighter in the world, won a razor thin decision over Sergey Kovalev at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada as he cemented himself as a future hall of famer in the process. Yet, Ward was greeted with the decision of obtaining three of the four major belts in a weight class he had only fought at officially two times prior, with boos and angry Twitter remarks.
I wrote about this last year in which the boxing media/pundits have used their leverage to create myths and narratives about Andre Ward that belittle his skill-set and play into neoliberal virtues that are subjective such as morality, demeanor and other things that takeaway from Ward’s in-ring performance. This match-up for these same writers was suppose to be Kovalev crushes Ward and becomes a star, when that didn’t happen all hell broke lose.
Now before I continue, I live in the Bay Area and I can honestly say Andre Ward has inspired a lot of my life. I was at a crossroads and Ward fighting in the Bay Area helped structure my life. I never would of followed boxing if Ward hadn’t fought since my passion for the sport probably would of weaned. That being said I have never gotten to go to his gym when other media are not present as well and have no form of a relationship with Andre Ward.
What I am saying is, despite a bias or my only personal perspective I may have had towards liking Ward as a fan early on, I am fairly reasonable. I can see why some fans don’t like him, but that doesn’t mean I agree with them. Some writers just want to see brawls and high level boxing despite what they might say, is not what they enjoy the most about boxing. While others might take into his stoic demeanor as off-putting and unfriendly wishing to see him lose to “humble him”.
Through my four or so years of watching Ward fight from press row I have observed one major thing, nothing he does is an accident. Ward seemingly thinks through all of his answers to the media before coming to a media day, knowing that anyone comment in jest could be turned against him. He understands obligations to being a professional, but is solely obsessed with greatness and will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, for this this same reason questions about reflection or introspection towards the fight game often go unanswered or are thrown back at the reporter with the remark “…that is for you, the media, to decide.” Ward is an interesting fighter to observe, but a tough one to interview since he wants his performances in the ring to speak for themselves as opposed to be known for how talks prior.
It is clear in hindsight the court of public opinion wanted Andre Ward to lose so he could be discredited. When I say public opinion, I mostly mean vocal L.A. based writers, and those who have gone against Ward from the beginning. HBO’s Harold Leaderman turned in one of the worst scorecards since HBO’s awful scoring of Ruslan Provodnikov vs. Chris Algieri as well which dramatically shifted some observers perception of the broadcast of the fight going into the later rounds. It is one thing to say Kovalev won, which one could make a case for, but to say that he won the fight by eight or nine rounds simply means a smaller man can’t beat a little man in any form of prizefighting since landing bigger punches and walking forward is all that matters.
We can debate who won the fight, it was close. The fight is probably not unlike how “Sugar” Ray Leonard vs. Marvin Hagler was at the time of their battle, the only difference is Ward is not beloved like Leonard and when he got a close decision it was despised by a vocal minority of boxing fans.
Ward is and has been the best boxer for quite sometime, but that is inconsequential in an era in which a MMA fighter, Conor McGregor, is calling out the best boxer in the world, Floyd Mayweather and people are actually excited to see such a bout. Ward is dependable like a Toyota, he just shows up and performs. Ward is in essence the blue-collar boxer, the working class fighter who shows up and performs like a longshoremen, electrician or carpenter, who when it is all said and done would rather not answer questions from the media like his friend, Marshawn Lynch, then entertain the media like say a Floyd Mayweather.
Ward’s blue collar nature I feel is sadly overlooked, because of the ugliness of America right now. We have a president elect who openly made bigoted, misogynist and racist quotes disguised as “…just his opinion” who over half of the country relates to. The idea of excellence being unapologetically black complicates matters for those who look at race and life via stereotypes as Ward is uniquely himself and doesn’t pretend to be anything he is not.
Furthermore, Ward is about as easy to read as a James Joyce novel. Ward, is half black and half caucasian. This was touched on the build-up to his fight with Kovalev, but in typically Ward fashion despite his own racial conflict and hard childhood, he never wanted people to feel sorry for him, he wanted them to respect his craft first and foremost. Ward as he told me once “…is who he is.” He is unapologetic since for him only three things matter to him; religion, family and greatness in the ring.
The outcome of this fight somewhat is fitting. Ward will never get his credit during his time when he is active in the sport of boxing and will only be getting the credit he deserves once he is gone. His resume is stellar beating Chad Dawson, Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler along with Sergey Kovalev. He competed in a round robin “Super Six tournament” and won it. Ward is more often then not discredited not for his action, but more so for groupthink and people being too proud to say that they were wrong about Andre Ward.
This along with the fact that Kovalev is surprisingly void of any and all blame for allowing the fight to be so close after dropping Ward in the second round.
Kovalev dramatically slowed down from the 5th onward, at most winning two or three at best. Kovalev’s trainer, John David Jackson was also seemingly void of giving any and all adjustments that worked as the fight went on to stop Ward’s growing momentum in the fight. These points have all have gone for not, mostly because once again, the narrative writers, both print and broadcast, failed to present Ward accurately.
If you listen to some prior to the bout Ward had no fans and fought in front of small crowds, after the result the narrative shifted to the whole boxing infrastructure rallied around Ward to win. The logic is flawed as you can see even reputable website posted fake Twitter accounts discrediting Andre Ward
Ward’s debut on pay-per-view was nothing short of what was suppose to be: a good, enjoyable fight with narrative conveyed that further mocked or belittled the accomplishments of moving up a weight class and fighting the best fighter at the light-heavyweight. It is tiresome, but at this point it is to be expected. The majority of the “hardcore fans”, most of whom I wish would become a hardcore fan of another sport, since they seemingly only want to see the sport fail, have made up their mind about Ward and nothing will change it, not even becoming a two weight world champion.
The fight was close with no clear winner except for the three judges that matter. It simply came down to your perception of a fight as those who like aggression saw the fight one way and those who scored cleaner punches and methodical gamesmanship went another direction.
The sad truth is a damn scorecard is being talked about more then one of the best fights on paper and in actuality in the past decade based off a three judges.