[KNOCKOUT NATION] Andre Ward Talks Mainstream Appeal, Floyd Mayweather & The Plight Of The African American Boxer

For his critics, winning a gold medal for the United States in 2004 Olympics, going pro and attaining an unbeaten record (26-0) while being recognized as the second best fighter in the world behind Floyd Mayweather isn’t enough. According to the skeptics, the WBA (Super) and The Ring Super Middleweight champion continues to win fights, but hasn’t figured out the winning combination to win over new fans. He doesn’t have the great equalizer in knockout power and doesn’t have the polarizing personality to make him attractive to mainstream boxing fans. He’s just a good guy who fights very, very well. But shouldn’t that be enough? As he prepares to take on Edwin Rodriguez on November 16, Knockout Nation sits down with Andre Ward to talk about his mainstream appeal, whether or not he has beef with Floyd Mayweather and the plight of the African American boxer.

Knockout Nation: Two things stuck out to me in the Dawson fight, one was that you said you wanted to remove the he’s good “but” part out of the conversation when people speak of you. The other was that you alluded to making Chad Dawson quit before it actually happened. Was the plan to essentially kill two birds with one stone when you fought Dawson?

Andre Ward: We went into the fight knowing that we could stop Chad Dawson. He’s not a man that you can go in there and know you’ll knock him out. It just doesn’t happen. But we had the mindset and in the weeks leading up to the fight I said to not be surprised if he runs into a shot. The plan was to break him down and catch him late and that’s exactly what we did. So, the answer to your question is yes.

Knockout Nation: The momentum you gained by stopping Dawson was slowed down when an injury forced you out for the past year. How frustrating was it to be on the sidelines even though you were still visible doing commentary for HBO?

Andre Ward: It was very frustrating. Sometimes even discouraging because I had the best seat in the house calling fights but I couldn’t participate. The fans would always ask when would I be back and I didn’t have an answer. Even when I was physically cleared there were holdups with the business side of things. It was frustrating but you cannot just embrace the good times. You have to value the bad ones as well. I decided that I would enjoy my life while I waited to get back into the ring. When I come back, I’m going to do it with a statement and that’s where my mindset is right now.

Knockout Nation: On the flipside of that, you were in a series of highly competitive fights. So perhaps this was also a much needed break?

Andre Ward: That’s very true. I know my body needed a year off. It’s one thing to be eager and want to come right back. But your body sometimes says something different. I’ve got twenty years under my belt of training and fighting and taking punches. That year off isn’t going to hurt me; it is going to help me. It may not be ideal but when you look at Floyd Mayweather taking the hiatuses that he taken over the last four years have preserved him. Especially considering that he’s been fighting since he was a kid. You see Pacquiao fighting two or three times a year and all the training camps he has to go through. Sometimes the body says enough is enough. Floyd did right making those decisions to take extended breaks. He knows what he needed to do. I’m learning the same thing. I’m thinking that in the end it will benefit me in the long run.

“I’m not in competition with Floyd Mayweather”

Knockout Nation: Rodriguez is unbeaten but nobody is really giving him a chance to beat you. But what is your take on Rodriguez?
Andre Ward: I don’t read the general consensus of what people feel about my opponent because I know that he’s earned his shot, his eager and he’s coming to take something. I’m not a champion who looks past his opponents. I take everyone very seriously. Sometimes more serious than I probably should because I want to make sure that I’m mentally up to par.

Knockout Nation: The plight of the African American boxer is an interesting one. Gone are the days when African American boxers could possess crossover appeal for their in ring ability without being too controversial. Guys like Hearns, Leonard, Hagler, Holmes were fighters young kids could look up to and their parents would feel comfortable with their children looking up to them. Now we are missing black boxers with that crossover appeal unless there is some kind of controversy that follows them. What is your take?

Click here for the rest of the interview, where Ward talks Hip-Hop, Gospel and his refusal to do publicity stunts to maintain relevance.

  • Dhz30

    great fighter

  • Immortal

    As far as the plight of the Black Boxer; no promotion, no crossover appeal. Floyds name rings true because he is a champion and his father was a champion, so that speaks volumes in itself. But where are the Black Boxers these days? I know some die hard boxing fan will correct me, but IMO there aren’t too many out there compared to the days of old. Heavyweights for example? I’d like for someone to honestly tell me what’s up with the lack of representation of blacks in boxing class wide. I could be missing out.

    • DJ7

      They’re out there bro…it’s all politricks…instead of a staple of good fighters being recognized, today’s mission is to create a Floyd prototype….one that can generate enough interest to make you want to spend that $69.99 for pay per view…while brothas are staying true to traditional boxing, which is less appealing to the blood and guts crowd of today, others are willing to take the risk of permanently damaging themselves for a few coins

      • Immortal

        But in saying that, it almost sounds like a defeatist attitude like we cannot continue to make good individual fighters like in the past, so we use a blueprint that really isn’t going to happen again just to make the quick dollar rather than the long term legacy? That would mean that the system and us for that matter are sellouts. What are your thoughts on that?

      • DJ7

        It’s not the fighters per se, more so the greedy promoters (wanting to duplicate the Mayweather mold)…Also, over the years, fighting as a means of escaping the ghetto, as once the case, got overshadowed by other sports / activities ie…football, basketball, hip hop and yeah, drug dealing. My take is the glorification of these alternative sports / activities along with the softening of our youth contributed to the lack of interest. I remember growing up, guys like Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Bruce Lee were the men, if you didn’t have hands, you were more than likely bait for bullies and one hungry kid come lunch time. As time progressed, the pistol changed all of that, along with the mindset. Nowadays, street fights turn into murder quick because these kids can’t take an a$$ whooping, lick their wounds and live to fight another day. Of course there are more contributing factors to the equation that I didn’t mention b.u.t. if I did, we’d be here all day. On the brighter side, Deontay Wilder is starting to develop quite nicely in the heavyweight division and I believe the prospects that are already out there in the various other weight classes gives us a fair representation in the sport. Make no mistake, we’re still a dominate force whether they label us Cuban, Haitian, Australian, Brazilian or Afrikan. The fact that Floyd is head and shoulders above the field, garners so much attention and reps the USA heavy that alot of guys are being overlooked to which I mentioned before, why not give a black fighter (Other than Broner) some shine and a healthy payday before he retires…it’s not like the usual suspects (Mexicans on a major Mexican holiday) pose a threat yet they continually get a shot…share that pie with your brothas B

      • Immortal

        Thanks for the insight Brotha. Good Points.

      • Boxing is objective, otherwise, Fabio would be Heavyweight Champion of the world, talking about :
        “I can’t believe it’s not Boxing!”

        If there aren’t enough Black boxers being represented, it’s because the white ( or? ) boxers kicked their @$$e$!

        Did you see the Klitscho commercial about the BMW’s?

        No? Me either……and if he doesn’t get the endorsement deals, the racism aspect takes a back seat to the economics….as usual.

        Klitscho has been in the game, circling the Championship, since Lennox Lewis almost put his eye out, yet he doesn’t have deals, and in reality, Mayweather doesn’t either.

        Kelly Pavlik = Excellent (Basic) Champion.
        Madison Avenue dream, white, blue collar, and a Jab, jab, str8 combination that will make you ‘chet your meal if you don’t adjust, yet no deals.

        ( Major deals** Hanes, Nike, Caesars, etc. )

        Does racism exist?

        Artist development damn sure doesn’t.
        Labels don’t even invest in artist they have under 360’s.

      • Shit Just Got Real

        with a guaranteed 40 mill a fight floyd doesnt need endorsement deals or any deal for that matter and boxing was never really the poster sport for nike and i cant imagine hanes lookin to endorse anything with an athlete and no MJ dont count

      • Paul Dronette

        I don’t think Wilder is ready. He has not fought anyone of significance and he NEVER looks good. I think The brothers will really expose him. Or any mid-level heavyweight with a chin for that matter.

  • MercedNative209

    ward is trash bruh… post super 6 he has not been relevant in boxing whatsoever… injuries, blaming promo org, etc…

    • Shit Just Got Real

      he’s not trash he’s just boring

      • MercedNative209

        why is he boring? cause his style is garbage! ex: tonights fight

      • Shit Just Got Real

        his style is boring cause he just smothers holds and hits at the same dam time

    • DJ7

      Ignorant comment…Ward trash? Not relevant? I take that back…stupid comment!!!

      • Check out “Mr Man Boxing” on Youtube.

        8yr old boxing prodigy from a local program called “Stick N Move” (.) org

      • MercedNative209

        suck him up already. dude is GARBAGE! never will be a PPV fighter

    • Paul Dronette

      Pre super 6, no one knew him. Post super 6, he’s #2 on most P4P list.

  • MalikYomama88

    the jcole of boxing. Cos I mean he’s good but…

    • justmathoughts

      lol, well said

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    floyed mayweather will do him just like he did ricky hatton tko ……

    • Paul Dronette

      Are you serious??

    • Legendary Trolly

      Floyd will NEVER EVER EVER Stop Ward. Ward is WAAAY too big for Floyd he’s a super middle weight. Floyd’s highest weight is 150. Ward can barely make 168 and he’s about to move to 175. Ward is actually a very good fighter and he would pummel Floyd if they somehow agreed to a fight.