Andre Ward, the reigning light heavyweight champion of the world and former super middleweight champion of the world, has announced his retirement from boxing.
To the sport of boxing – I love you. You’ve been by my side since I was 10-years-old. You’ve taught me so much. You’ve humbled me. You’ve promoted me. I’ve sacrificed a lot for you, but you’ve given me more than I ever thought possible. You gave me a platform, made me a champion and helped me provide for my family. I am forever grateful to you. You and I will always be synonymous, connected at the hip. Thank you for all the wonderful people I’ve come in contact with because of you. I’ve made friends for life. As I walk away from the sport of boxing today, I leave at the top of your glorious mountain, which was always my vision and my dream. I did it. We did it.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has played a part in my journey. You know who you are. I could not have done this without you. I want to be clear – I am leaving because my body can no longer put up with the rigors of the sport and therefore my desire to fight is no longer there. If I cannot give my family, my team, and the fans everything that I have, then I should no longer be fighting. Above all, I give God the Glory, for allowing me to do what I’ve done, for as long as I have.
He also tweeted this video:
Ward’s decision to retire young is surprising, but not a total shock. He’s been very savvy about his career since winning the Super Six World Boxing Classic and establishing himself as the top 168-pound fighter in the game, and there was always talk that he planned to walk away before boxing got the best of him physically.
Still, any champion leaving in their prime is a surprise to some degree, since so many fighters stay far too long.
Ward won the gold medal for the United States at the Olympics in Athens back in 2004, and to this day remains the last U.S. men’s boxer to win an Olympic gold medal. He turned pro in December 2004, and somewhat slowly worked his way up until joining the big Super Six tournament in 2009.
In the Super Six, he soundly defeated Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green, Arthur Abraham, and Carl Froch (along with a non-tournament win over Sakio Bika between Green and Abraham), and established himself as the best fighter in the super middleweight division. The tournament ended in December 2011.
He made two more title defenses at 168 pounds, beating Chad Dawson in 2012 and Edwin Rodriguez in 2013. Promotional disputes caused him to sit out all of 2014, and he wouldn’t return until June 2015, beating Paul Smith in Oakland, moving up to light heavyweight in the process.
Two more “tune-up” style fights followed against Sullivan Barrera (a win that has aged very well) and Alexander Brand, before Ward signed to face IBF, WBA, and WBO champion Sergey Kovalev in November 2016. Ward won a close, disputed decision, and a rematch was signed for June 2017.
In that fight, Ward stopped Kovalev in the eighth round, albeit once again with some disputing the victory, this time due to body shots some felt were low blows.
Ward retires with a record of 32-0 (16 KO), and will go down as one of the top fighters of his generation, leaving not just on top of the 175-pound division, but considered by the majority the pound-for-pound top fighter in boxing.