Andre Ward: ďI think Carl Froch should be considered the number two super middleweight in the worldĒ
by Geoffrey Ciani (Exclusive Interview by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - This weekís 154th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with reigning WBA/WBC super middleweight world champion Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) who recently defeated Carl Froch (28-2, 20 KOs) in the Final matchup in the Super Six Boxing Classic. Ward spoke about his victory, his career, and his future, and also shared opinions on various other topics pertaining to the current boxing landscape including Lucian Bute, the return of Andre Dirrell, the prospects of seeing a Pacquiao-Mayweather bout in 2012, and more! Here is a complete transcript from that interview:
Article posted on 27.12.2011
JENNA J: Well since weíre talking about pound-for-pound, it is time for our final guest of this weekís showóa guy who with his performance this past weekend has certainly earned a lot of praise. Heís earned pound-for-pound top five recognition. He is making his ninth appearance to ďOn the Ropes Boxing RadioĒ. We are joined by the WBA, WBC, Ring Magazine super middleweight champion of the worldóAndre ďS.O.G.Ē Ward. Welcome back to ďOn the RopesĒ. How are you doing today?
ANDRE WARD: Iím doing good. Iím just getting a little rest coming off the fight Saturday night.
JENNA: Alright, letís talk about that fight Andre. You were in there with Carl Froch. Many people considered him to be the next best guy out there. It was the guy everybody wanted to see you in the ring with. What was it actually like being in there with him? What kind of fight did he bring to you?
WARD: Well I think one of Carl Frochís greatest assets is his competitiveness. He reminds me a lot of myself in that department, because heís not the most skilled guy. Heís not the fastest, the biggest, the strongest, but he has a lot of good qualities. Heís not really great in any one particular area, but heís just very competitive and he has a desire to win, and thatís the same in my case. You know I would be inside with him and I would get off a three, or four, or five punch combination, and like clockwork I knew he was going to try and get it back. I could hear him grunting in there with his punches and stuff. You know he just wanted to win! He wanted to win as much as I did, and of course every fighter wants to win but heís the kind of guy who would just do pretty much anything to win. He tried at times with some dirty tactics and stuff like that, but I take my hat off to him. He fought a solid fight. He fought a good fight, and I believe Carl Froch will be a champion again. It was a great victory for my team, but it was just a good performance and I still feel like the best is yet to come in terms of what I can display and what I can show personally.
JENNA: Okay. Letís go to when the judgesí cards were announced. Were you at all surprised that they had it as close as they did?
WARD: You know what? I did because I knewóI guess the best way to put it is I feel like all of my fights are kind of nip and tuck. Even the Kessler fight was a fight that we dominated pretty much throughout the fight, but you still just never know. So I felt like I had won obviously. I knew we had done everything we were supposed to do to win, but you just never know. So when the scorecards were read, I kind of thought like wow! Okay. I honestly thought it was the judge from the UK, and it wasnít! It was the American judge and the Canadian judge, and the UK judge actually had it about right, 118-110. So that was a concern, and I think the commission out there in Atlantic City is doing their part right now to kind of get some answers and to get some explanations, and my team is also looking into it because if it was a closer fight then those two judges would have decided the fight in his favor and boxing just doesnít need that. I know certain judges look for certain things, but I think when there is a clear cut win I think the guy who wins the fight should get his hand raised. When you see scorecards that are questionable, I just think that in terms of protocol those people need to be questioned and they need to answer some questions, because you can change something entirely good by scoring a fight the wrong way. Iím just glad that didnít happen and that we could get our hands raised, even in the midst of those two close scores.
JENNA: Now this tournament took over two years to get to a finish. How do you feel now that you are the Super Six Champion?
WARD: Oh man! Itís kind of a surreal feeling that itís finally over, because there were times in the tournament when you felt like it would never end. So Iím happy that this chapter of my life is over, even though I enjoyed the ride. Iím just happy to move on and just be able to go on to another chapter. You know this chapter was necessary, and this has made me and will continue to help me to develop and evolve into the fighter that Iím going to be one day. I mean to be able to fight this type of competition, to be get big fight experience with a lot of coverage back-to-back for the last two and a half years, I mean it was almost like one super fight after another in terms of competition. I canít even tell you how much that added to my development as a man personally, and as a fighter, and just to my development in the ring. Itís helped me evolve a tremendous amount, but again, Iím happy this chapter is over. We always felt like we could get to this point. We felt like we had the potential to beat everybody in the tournament, but feeling that way and doing it is two different things. I just thank God that we were able to come in there and just take care of our business one fight after another. Weíre not gloating. Weíre not being boastful about it. Every fighter in this tournament has the potential to be a world champion, even the guys who lost. So Iím just happy I was able to get my hand raised and be the last man standing.
JENNA: Okay now Andre, people have been talking a lot obviously since the tournament ended, and a lot has been said about Carl Froch and where he sits now in the super middleweight division. In your mind, do you think that because he went through a tournament like this that took two years and that he finished runner-up to you, that he is actually the second best super middleweight in the world and that he has a better claim to that than Lucian Bute would?
WARD: Thatís a great question! Thatís a really good question, and I think there is some merit to that. I think you can arguably consider Carl Froch the number two super middleweight in the world. I mean this guy obviously had a great run before he even got to the Super Six. He was able to beat Andre Dirrell, then he had a nip and tuck type fight with Mikkel Kessler. A lot of people thought that it could have went either way if it wasnít in Kesslerís hometown. Then he comes right back and wins the title in spectacular fashion against Arthur Abraham. Even though he wasnít able to get the victory against myself, he put up a good effort. So absolutely I know and believe he will become champion again, and that would be a very interesting fight between him and Bute. But I think that just based on our schedule over the last two years and just based on our willingness to be in the tournament, I think Carl Froch should be considered the number two super middleweight in the world.
JENNA: Alright now speaking of the name Lucian Bute, many people want to see you face him next. But my question to you is, do you think heís earned that type of fight with you based on the people that heís fought?
WARD: With all due respect to him and his team, I honestly donít feel like that. Like thatís a fight that should be made. I believe it will be made at some point, but I do believe he has to beat some good fighters. He needs to beat one or two good guys, A-level guys, and even in some cases come out of his hometown and do it to get a shot. I think with some of the talk lately about me ducking him, I think after the schedule that the combatants in the Super Six have been on in the past two years, itís really foolish to even bring up the notion that somebody is ducking Bute. I mean thatís just not the case. Like I said, I believe thatís a fight that should be made and will be made, but at the same time we have to be smart in this game. Weíre going to sit back and see what the best move to make as a team, but I just think Bute needs to beat some A-level guys. I mean Iíve heard Dirrell say he wants to fight Bute, and Dirrellís on the comeback trail. I think that would be a great fight. Carl Froch, I think personally Froch will probably take a tune-up fight or a lesser fight to kind of regroup, but thatís up to his team and after that I think he should go to Lucian Bute. Those are the kind of guys I think he needs to beat and then I think the fight would even be bigger, and I think he would then warrant a shot at some of the big belts that we have.
JENNA: Okay. Well Andre, Iím also on the line with my Co-Host and Producer Geoff Ciani.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hi Andre. Congratulations on winning the Super Six Boxing Classic, and itís a pleasure to have you back on the show.
WARD: Itís always good to talk to you guys.
CIANI: Thank you. Andre, back to your fight with Carl Froch, one of the things that seemed to work extremely well for you that night was ironically your left hook where you had problems with your left hand. Iím wondering, is that something you specifically worked on for Carl? Or is that more something that kind of presented itself to you throughout the course of the fight?
WARD: I think it was both. We talked about the hook in camp. We worked on the hook. We absolutely did that because I havenít really seen anybody throw a lot of hooks at Carl Froch, especially in situations where theyíre in close. Even with Glen Johnson, you know Glen Johnson would come in and he would hit Carl Froch with a good right hand, but no hook! He wouldnít follow up with the left hand, and we noticed that and we saw that. It wasnít really a major thing that we were focusing on, but we did talk about and we did drill and work on the mitts and on the heavy bag to get to that side of his head and to work that side. But the left hook just had a mind of its own that night, and thatís how it works. Itís like youíll drill something, youíll talk about something in camp, youíll work on it, and then you just kind of let things flow and then all of a sudden it will show up. Ironically enough with the hand hurting and the hand swollen, we were just able to use it. I mean I just told myself I have no choice. There is not an option. It was to the point where I didnít even tell my coach in the corner, because I didnít want to distract him from the instructions he was giving me and I ultimately didnít want to distract myself. I mean it was just a situation where we had to get through it. So I just kept throwing it, and Iím paying for it now because my hand is like twice the size of my right hand. But it just had a mind of its own, and thatís how sometimes it works. Things just show up sometimes and when theyíre working, you go to stick to it.
CIANI: Andre one of the things I wanted to ask you, and Carl Froch noted something about this after the fightósomething to the effect that with you, youíre either too close or youíre too far away. Iím curious if you can tell the fans out there a little bit about how is it that youíre able to command and dictate the distance so well, so consistently, against all these different styles you faced throughout the Super Six?
WARD: Well I give a lot of that credit to my coach Virgil, who Iím hoping can get ĎTrainer of the Yearí this year. I think heís done a tremendous job. Even though weíve only fought twice this year, I think that just over a period of time heís shown his worth as a trainer. You know he studies a lot more film than I do. I watch enough of it to see what I need to see for us to converse about certain things about the fight, but heís watching film at 2 or 3 in the morning, at 5 in the morning, and thatís just something we drilled every single day on the mitts. We knew Carl Froch was long. He uses his range very well, and thatís what he always told me. If youíre going to be outside you need to be far enough away to where he has to commit if heís going to hit you. Donít be inside his range. Donít be in his comfort zone. If you watch the Glen Johnson fight, his trainer made a comment about that I think somewhere around the fifth or sixth round as Carl Froch started to warm up. He said youíre making it easy for him! Youíre right inside his range. Youíre right inside his comfort zone, and as a long fighter he has a comfort zone. So we wanted to stay outside of that comfort zone, or right inside where we knew he wasnít comfortable. And I didnít always get it right. He had some moments. He landed a couple of shots, but thatís part of the game at this level. But for the most part thatís what we wanted to doóstay outside of his comfort zone, or stay inside where we knew for a fact that what his long arms he wasnít comfortable.
CIANI: One of the things Iíve noticed about you is when we have other guests on this show, particularly guys that you grew up with through the amateurs, they all have a great deal of respect for you. Now obviously you won the Gold Medal, and the most recent example is we had Lamont Peterson on after he upset Amir Khan. Regarding you he said, ďI just think period, and I know this is not true, but I think itís impossible for him to lose. I just think heís going to win, and heís going to keep continuing to win, and probably retire undefeated.Ē Thatís what Lamont Peterson said about you. I know that you were close to a lot of the guys from your amateur class. What does it mean to get that type of praise from the peers you came up with before you guys all turned pro?
WARD:Man, I donít even know what to say about that. I didnít know he made that comment. Itís one thing to get respect from the media, itís one thing to get respect from the fans, but to get it from your peers is just something totally different. For a fighter that I respect in Lamont, and I respect Anthony and I respect their whole program, but for him to say something like that Iím just honored for him to say something like that. But itís kind of shocking you know that he would feel that way, and obviously itís a lot of hard work if those comments are going to turn out to be true. Man, I really donít have words. Itís just, wow! Itís shocking that he would say something like that, but I also appreciate it because it just lets me know how he feels about me as a fighter and a person. I just appreciate it. I mean those comments, I just graciously accept it, and I just want to continue to do what Iím doing. With the praise, or sometimes the negative press that arises, I mean I just want to stay focused man, and take them both in stride, the good and the bad, and just keep working and see what happens.
CIANI: The first time we had you on our program was before your fight with Mikkel Kessler. It was before the Super Six started for you. Now after the Super Six is done and complete, you came out the winner as you predicted you would. You said you had a lot of hard work and that you would go out and do it. How have you changed in those last two-plus years as a fighter and a person?
WARD: I just think as a fighter, itís more maturity. You know nothing can substitute big fight experience. Even the Fightcamp 360 which I had never been a part of, and to be able to learn how to deal with the cameras around you 24/7 and just with all the hype surrounding the Super Six, and dealing with the talent, and the great fighters that were involved in the Super Six, and just everything that was on the lineóyou canít substitute that by being in the gym. I can stay in the gym for the next six months, and you just canít substitute being in a real life situation, and for me to get this type of experience has just helped me mature all around the board. Thatís why I keep saying that even though weíve had some good victories, and obviously a great win against Froch, there is still a lot more left in the tank. Iím still only 27 years old. You know Iíll be 28 in February and I feel like Iím just approaching my prime. The more big fights I get, I just feel like I can get in a zone where we could potentially make real offerings in fight that will just be unbelievable. The level of skill that I feel like Iím approaching, I wouldnít be approaching this level of skill at this point without this tournament. Just mentally, Iím just learning how to deal with the pressure. Again, with the Fightcamp 360 cameras, to the press conferences, to traveling to the UK for a press conference, and all the different things that come with big fights have just caused me to mature, in the ring and out.
CIANI: You always said that at some point youíd like to go to 175 to win a title. It actually surprised me. I saw a poll recently with all of the big names at 175, guys like Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson were in the poll, fans were still saying that they viewed Lucian Buteóand again, this surprised meóas your biggest challenge! When you look out there, and you look at the 168 and 175 pound landscapes, who do you personally view as your toughest test out there in those two weight classes?
WARD: Well itís tough, because I donít really see one person. The way I view it, I almost view everybody like theyíre almost equals. Okay. Now once you scratch beneath the surface and start digging into fight film and start breaking down strategy and different things like that, then you start seeing guys with their strengths and weaknesses a little bit closer. But in terms of the A-level, I look at everybody like they are a threat and when we sign to fight we need to be ready. So I donít really see one person thatís more of a threat than another person. You know I do want to go up to 175 at some point, but there is still a lot of business at 168. You know what? One thing that Iíve learned is thatís just the nature of the beast. I mean I can fight Lucian Bute, I can fight Kessler again, and there is always going to be somebody that is brought up. What about this guy? What about that guy? Well you didnít beat this guy. Itís going to be an up and coming guy whoís a prospect, who comes up and then all of a sudden he becomes a contender and theyíre going to be talking about him. Thatís just the way it is, but Iím secure in what Iíve done in the sport of boxing so far. I still feel like the best is yet to come. Weíre not going to be pressured to make certain moves based on what people are saying. Weíre going to stay focused as a team, keep doing what weíve been doing, and hopefully just continue to be successful. There are still great fights out there. Itís hard to pick one person. I just want to be ready when we sign a contract with whomever. I just want to be ready to do my thing and obviously come out on top.
JENNA: Okay well Andre, we just have a couple of more questions before we let you off the line. Given the fact that youíve won the WBC super middleweight title, something comes along with that. You actually will have a mandatory coming up against Anthony Dirrell. Iím curious what your thoughts are on him as a fighter, and how you would see a matchup between you and him playing out?
WARD: I think Anthony is a great talent. I mean obviously for anybody to get to the number one spot as a contender is somebody that should be respected. Iíve watched Anthony for years and heís doing really good, and heís done really good to get to this point. Honestly, we havenít even discussed mandatories and that kind of thing right now. I mean Iím fresh off of victory, so itís hard to say how a fight with me and him would go, but against thatís part of the decision making process and in the next couple of weeks we got to sit down and make some decisions on whatís next. Assuming that everything goes well with the MRI today, April and May is when weíre potentially looking to come back to fight. We just donít know who at the moment. Whether itís a mandatory or whether itís another big name, those are the decisions we got to make in the next couple of weeks. So hopefully in the next couple of weeks we can have something solid for you guys.
JENNA: Alright well Anthonyís brother Andre is making a return on December 30, and heís been out of the ring since March of last year. How good do you think it is to have that name returning to the super middleweight division?
WARD: I think itís great. I think for the super middleweight division it just adds more spice. Itís just a great thing overall. Iím just happy for Andre personally to get back on the horse and keep going. I know that was a tough time. He fought a great fight against Abraham. It just ended all wrong. It wasnít supposed to end that way, and then to be on the shelf as long as heís been on the shelf I felt for him. He has a family. He has to support his family, and then I know personally he wants to be the best he can be. You know he hasnít gotten belts yet, and I know he wants to get a belt, and I believe he will get a belt one day. This is his return fight and Iím looking forward to it. I think Iím going to try and make it out. Itís only about five or six hours from where I live. So Iím going to try and come out and support him, and heís fighting a good fighter in Cunningham and I think Cunningham is a good fight to come back on. Itís an overall good thing, and personally Iím happy for him to get back on the horse and just continue on doing what he loves to do.
JENNA: Alright well Andre, weíre heading into 2012 and there are a lot of interesting matchups that people have wanted to see. Iím curious with you as a boxing fan, what matchup would like to see happen in 2012?
WARD: Obviously I think the fight I want to see is the fight that everybody wants to see, and thatís Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. I think thatís just a fight thatís been talked about for so long, I just think it would be good for the sport and thatís another reason why I want to see it. Personally I want to see the matchup, but also for the greater good of the sport I think it would just be a positive shot in the arm. Sometimes when things like this happen where there is a big fight thatís not taking place for whatever reason, itís a good time for people to kind of bash boxing and say well thatís why boxing is not what it was. Hopefully they will be able to work through whatever differences they have, and hopefully Floyd can get through the things heís going through right now, and just to be able to get the Pacquiao fight on! I think it would be a tremendous, tremendous fight and again, it would be good for our sport. I mean this is a sport Iíve dedicated most of my life to. I care a lot about it, and I just want to see the sport held in high regard.
JENNA: Alright! Well Andre, my final question for you is regarding your fans out there and all the people that support you. Is there any message youíd like to pass along to them?
WARD: As always, I just want to thank everybody for the support and for the love. I mean I had a lot of west coast fans come out, and stop me on the boardwalk as I walked home and stopped me in the hotel and just telling me how much they appreciated me and how far they had come. A lot of east coast fans that I had never met before had come to support me, and even the UK fans! They were passionate about their guy. I expected that, but after it was over they were gracious. You know I get most of my fan mail from the UK, and I just got a love for the UK fans. They showed me a lot of love and I take my hat off to them, because one again, once it was all over with and once their guy had lost, they were very gracious and I appreciate that.
JENNA: Okay. Well Andre, itís been a great pleasure talking to you so close after your big fight this past weekend. Thank you for your time, and we wish you all the best of luck going forward.
WARD: Hey guys! Thank you. Thanks a lot.
CIANI: Thanks Andre! Best of luck and happy holidays!
WARD: Okay! Talk to you soon.
For those interested in listening to the Andre Ward interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and eight minutes into the program.
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