Boxing


Andre Ward: “My goal is to get three points in this fight”

by Geoffrey Ciani - This week’s edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with reigning WBA Super World super middleweight champion Andre Ward who is preparing to defend his title on June 19 against Allan Green in round two of the Super Six. Ward shocked the world in round one when he thoroughly outclassed tournament favorite Mikkel Kessler in lopsided fashion. Now Ward looks to build off that victory as he attempts to take his next step forward in tournament play. Here is some of what he had to say:

On preparations for his June 19 round two Super Six match-up against Allan Green:
“Everything is going according to schedule. I’m anxious to fight. I’ve been training for a long time with all of the preparations you’re just ready to go. You’re ready to just get in there and handle your business so that’s my frame of mind right now. I mean the conditioning is there, it’s just maintaining that. The game plan is there, everything is in place, so it’s just a matter of time right now before we are able to take place.”

On his knee injury that caused his fight with Green to be delayed:
“I feel really good. I have zero pain in the knee. The knee has been a non-issue for this camp..



On what he took out of his and Green’s fights against common opponent Edison Miranda:
“I really don’t put too much stock into our fights with Miranda. I mean I definitely watched it and I can take something from it. He said he was sick in the fight, but he didn’t seem to fight back. I didn’t see in that fight him dig down and really try to get Miranda off him. The last couple of weeks he questioned me as a warrior and now is his opportunity to prove his mettle and I don’t think he did that. Even if you are sick, you fight until you have nothing left. If there’s any comparison, obviously I fought my fight but I definitely feel like that I showed myself stronger in that category in my fight with Edison Miranda. I probably got hit a little bit more than I wanted to in that fight and that was the big question—what’s going to happen when Miranda lands a big right hand, and I came right back. There were certain instances where I backed up the bullet. I put Miranda on the ropes and was more physical than he was. I think if anything, I can take just the mentality. He says he was physically not right, that’s fine—but the mentality. Even if you’re not right, you’re still in a fight and you still show what you have deep down on the inside. I don’t think he showed the mettle that he needed to show in that fight in order to beat a guy like Miranda. Miranda’s a guy who you have to go right at him and you have to let him know that, ‘Hey, I’m going to be in your face just like you’re going to be on my face’ and that’s how you beat him and I don’t think he did that. So if anything, that’s what I take from the fight.”

On whether he was surprised by the way Mikkel Kessler came back so strongly against Carl Froch:
“I mean if you look at my prediction, I picked him to win. People are tearing him down now, but that’s just a part of the game. He was the favorite going in, period. People thought he was the favorite and he was picked to be the top guy, and rightfully so. He had pretty much proven himself to be the strongest out of the six fighters that were in the Super Six. He had the most fights, he had the biggest fight against another world class fighter who will probably be a Hall of Famer, Joe Calzaghe, and showed himself very strong in that fight. He lost that fight but didn’t lose any fans and then came right back and won the WBC title again. He was a two time champion coming in, so he was rightfully the favorite. After I beat him, I continued to give him credit because I knew that he was no joke of a fighter. He’s a good fighter, he’s very tough, and I just knew that I wouldn’t have felt bad for him but I predicted that he would come back and win the title against Carl Froch and I’m happy he did.”

On criticisms aimed towards him from European fans who think it’s unfair he will have had two “home field” fights after two rounds of tournament progress:
“Well do you guys think that it gave me in advantage in terms of the referee or the judges? I don’t think it did in either of my fights, and actually I’ve only had—this will be my second fight at home. With a situation like Bute and Andrade where there’s a long count and something bizarre like that happens, I can see the uproar. I can understand what people are talking about, but I haven’t had any of that in my fight against Miranda or my fight against Kessler and I don’t look to have any of those—I’m not the kind of guy that looks for those kinds of advantages. I couldn’t live with that. If I lose, I lose. I take my hat off to a guy and it is what it is. I wouldn’t feel comfortable if I looked back at the tape and said, ‘Man, that referee saved me’ or ‘You know what, I really did get whooped and the judge gave me the fight by two points’. I listen to what the fans say enough to motivate me, with the negative criticisms, but honestly I stay out of it, man. I’m too focused on doing what I have to do to prepare for each fight trying to stay focused. I mean, you get on the internet you’re going to read a lot of different things about myself, each fighter in the Super Six—something negative can be said. Really, I don’t have time for that. I feel it’s unfortunate that the Euro fans—they’re great fans, actually. Most of my fans, they come out of Europe. I get a lot of fan mail out of Europe so I have nothing negative to say about the fans. It’s unfortunate if they feel the way. Like I said to you before, and I don’t apologize for it—my team has done a great job in negotiations. It’s not a knock on any of the other promoters, it’s not a knock on anyone. I’m just speaking facts. They did what they had to do and secured home field advantage. It is what it is, but at the end of the day I still have to go out there and perform. As you saw last night with the Lakers and Boston, home field advantage doesn’t guarantee anything. You still have to go out there and perform and I think we’ve done that. So I think people need to just realize that and not put too much stock in it, but hey, the websites and chat rooms they need something to talk about so I guess that’s something they can talk about.”

On what he thought about Joe Calzaghe as a fighter and how he believess he would match up against a prime Calzaghe:
“Joe Calzaghe’s a winner—that’s what you got to look at. Not to pat myself on the back, I have a lot more work that needs to be done and a lot more proving still to do, but I think that that’s one quality that I have. I just love to win and I just thank God that in each fight, even as an amateur, we found a way to win and that’s what Joe Calzaghe does. You can always nitpick and pry a guy’s style apart, you can find weaknesses on tape—we all have weaknesses—but at the end of the day, can he win? And Joe Calzaghe has proven over a long period of time that he is a winner—against sluggers, against other boxers, against whomever. So you have to give him his just due. Stylistically, I think it would have been a great match-up and I have a lot of respect for the guy, but of course, as a young fighter and a young lion I feel like I would definitely win the fight and I think I would win it handily. But that’s something we may never know about. I don’t know if Joe’s ever going to come back and obviously I got a lot of work carved out for me in the Super Six, but that’s definitely a dream match that I would look forward to because you would have two guys who have flaws, of course, have a lot of good strengths, but two guys who are determined to win. I think that would have given the fans just a tremendous, tremendous fight.”

On who he would pick to win if he was not involved in the Super Six and Lucian Bute were there in his place:
“Wow, that’s a great question. I would have to have Bute and Dirrell as the top two guys on my list. I always favor the type of guy—I’m stealing some words from Carl Froch, you know being in the Super Six with these guys, I’m learning a little something—but I would always favor a guy who can do more than one thing. Taking nothing away from the other guys, I think that if Bute was in the tournament and Dirrell being in the tournament, I think they have more tools in the toolbox so to speak. I would probably lean towards those guys, but that being said, the other four combatants—they demand respect. As we’ve seen with the seesaw up and downs in terms of who’s winning, nothing is guaranteed. That’s what makes the Super Six the Super Six and that’s what’s so exciting, but those two guys would be on top of my list to win the whole thing.”

On whether he believes the Super Six Champion needs to defeat Lucian Bute before he can be considered the best super middleweight in the world:
“I think it would be the other way around. I think Bute would have to face off with the Super Six Champion to prove that he’s the best super middleweight. You know you come out of a tournament like this on top, that demands a lot of respect and that carries a lot of weight. Taking nothing away from Bute, he’s not fighting the competition that’s in the Super Six so I think it would be the other way around. I think the Super Six champion if he wanted to go to another weight class, I think it would not be good for the fans and the sport necessarily or the 168 pound weight class, because everyone would want to see the Super Six Champion and Bute fight but in terms of legacy, I think Bute would need to be in a hurry to want a future fight with the Super Six Champion.”

On what he thought about Andre Dirrell’s disqualification victory against Arthur Abraham:
“I had an interview with Jim Gray before the fight and I said I pretty much gave Dirrell the edge. I said if he stayed focused and fought a disciplined fight I felt like he would win the fight handily and he did that. He actually did better than I thought he wasn’t going to do. It’s never easy, but it looked pretty easy in there that night. I was ringside, as you all know, and I just thought he did a great job. He answered a lot of critics. A lot of questions were raised about his heart and just a lot of different nasty things were raised about him. Questions were made after the Froch fight and I think he answered those questions and I think he was aware of the questions that were raised about him and he wanted to make a statement and he did that. I think as far as the way it ended, it was kind of like the Detroit pitcher who just had one out to go before he was going to complete a perfect game and unfortunately the umpire made a bad call. It was kind of like that. Dirrell wanted to secure the victory and finish on his feet to either get a stoppage or have the announcer call him the winner fair and square. He wanted it like that and I understand that clearly, but unfortunately he slipped and I feel like Abraham is a great guy. I feel like what you see on camera is what you get. He’s just a lighthearted guy, but I think he made a bad decision and that bad choice cost him dearly. I think it was in the heat of the moment but I think it was intentional. I think he took a swipe at him and he knew he was down and he took a split second to look down and see him. In that case, I can understand him cocking it back and not pulling the trigger or even just doing something other than what he did, but he had a lot of force behind the punch. Again, a good guy made a bad choice and it cost him.”

On how he views the round three match-up between Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch:
“That’s a pick’em. That’s a very good tough fight because you got both men coming off of their first loss, actually. Abraham’s coming off of his first loss, he’s determined to get back; Froch just lost his title, he’s determined to get back. You got two guys who love to go in there and bang it out. I think Froch has more tools in the toolbox in terms of options. He can box a little bit more and he could kind of keep some distance but he said it himself that at some point in there he’s going to trade, because deep down that’s who he is. He’s not really a boxer. That being said, anything can happen. Both guys have heavy hands and I expect a war in that fight and I think it’s just going to be a seesaw battle back and forth and I think the fans are in for a really brutal fight, actually.”

On whether he is disappointed that there is a chance he can go through the entire tournament and win it without having the chance to face Arthur Abraham or Carl Froch:
“I don’t know if I’d be disappointed. I mean I think it’s just the way the cookie crumbles. With the way that the tournament is structured and the way that fights were drawn, you know, obviously the fighters had no input in that. I kind of don’t worry about things that are out of my hands. I mean obviously you think about that. Like man, okay, if I get through the tournament without fighting a particular guy you know you’re obviously going to think about that like, ‘Man, I haven’t fought this guy. I wonder how I’d match up against him’. So definitely you think about it, but it wouldn’t be a huge disappointment if I got through the tournament without facing somebody. It may be a situation where we can fight outside of the tournament or down the road. I’m just really focused on what I got to do and focused on the guys that I do have to fight. I try to keep it simple because there are so many things out there that can take you off course. I think of some things. I understand that a victory here secures me a spot in the semifinals. I’m aware of that, but I try not to put too much energy into those small thoughts and when I’m preparing for a fight like this I just keep it simple. It’s a seek-and-destroy mindset. You have to prepare yourself physically, mentally, and of course spiritually. I just keep it as simple as I possibly can.”

On whether there is anything specific about Allan Green that he believes will give him problems:
“I mean every fighter poses problems and it remains to be seen what type of problems he poses. He’s got a good jab, his favorite punch I think is a left hook—but I don’t think he sets guys up with it. I think it’s more of a bailout left hook. It’s more of a put your head down and swing for the fences. He’s not going to hit a homerun with that. We’re prepared for that. We’re aware of that. We’ve watched film just like he’s watched film of me. Obviously we see flaws that we want to exploit but when I go into these fights I try to give my opponents a lot of credit, even probably a little bit more than they deserve because I want to be mentally on that level. I see a lot of guys do themselves a disservice when they do things like Mr. Green when they minimize the opponent because mentally you’re going to follow suit. When you say things out of your mouth, ‘Oh he’s just this’ or ‘He’s a young fighter’ or ‘He’s not tough, he’s not a warrior, he’s not this’ but what happens when you see that guy that you just said didn’t exist? Mentally that’s a problem, but hey guess what, it’s too late. We’re in the heat of battle and by the time you figure out what’s going on the fight is over. Honestly, I think that’s what a lot of guys do to me personally. They see it on the outside, it looks one way, they minimize it, they talk down about it, I don’t say much, they take the meekness for weakness and then by the time the fight is over they realize, ‘Man, I’ve been duped! Everything that they said was true’. So that’s just my focus going in. I don’t minimize his left hook, I don’t minimize his right hand, I don’t minimize his jab, and I don’t minimize his desire to want to be champion. My desire has to be stronger than his desire if I’m going to keep my title and that’s where my mind is right now.”

His official prediction for his upcoming fight against Allan Green:
“Well obviously I want this to be a victory and I want this to be an awesome victory. My goal is, without coming out of myself, to get three points in this fight. I think if I stay determined and disciplined and am sticking to the game plan that that could happen. Allan Green is not invincible. No man is invincible. Any man can be knocked out. Any man can be stopped. Fatigue, like they say, makes cowards of us all so my goal is to take Allan Green somewhere physically that he hasn’t been in a fight before and to show him some things that he’s never seen before in a fight, and my goal is to get three points in this fight.”

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For those interested in listening to the Andre Ward interview in its entirety, it begins at approximately eighteen minutes and eighteen seconds (1:28:42) into the show.

***

To view a complete list of past guests from On the Ropes Boxing Radio please visit our website:
http://www.ontheropesboxingradio.com/profiles.html

To contact Geoffrey Ciani or Jenna J:
ontheropes@eastsideboxing.com

To read more by Ciani or Jenna please visit The Mushroom Mag:
http://www.eatthemushroom.com/mag

Article posted on 11.06.2010



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