Former light heavyweight champion Andre Ward stopped by ESPN studios today and talked about a number of topics including his role in The Contender, the upcoming rematch between Canelo and Golovkin, drug testing, and the state of the heavyweight division. Check it out...
Ward on The Contender reboot:
“I mean, I’m excited about it. This is Season 5, it’s probably been around a 9-10 year gap between the last one. You know, Mark Burnett, EP, he gave me the opportunity and I jumped at it! And obviously I’m happy about you guys being able to see the fights in their entirety, . Typically in the previous four seasons they were edited, fans gave us feedback on that — they didn’t like that — so we changed that.
“But I’m more excited about just having the opportunity to roll up my sleeves, spend time with these guys, answer their questions about me, and take time to ask them questions about their lives. And I feel like we bonded, we’ve shot everything, everything is ready to go, it’s coming out Friday, but we still have a good bond with these guys. I talk to ‘em almost daily and it was just an honor and a privilege.”
On the pressure of retiring as the #1 pound-for-pound fighter when he could’ve easily continued his career:
“Not an easy decision. But a necessary one. I’ve studied retirements, even while I was still active. Like I know Jim Brown retired on the set of Dirty Dozens, you know, and how he did it — he walked away and never came back...
“In my sport there’s not a lot of good luck stories, there’s not a lot of good endings, and I just never wanted to be another fighter that had a bad ending — who had his rise and then all the sudden had this bad ending. I wanted to change the narrative on how fighters are viewed and hopefully be a guy that young fighters can say ‘man, I’ma get in and get out and I’ma try to do the Andre Ward.’”
On his thoughts on the Canelo-Golovkin rematch:
“I mean it’s a fight so you never know. The first fight was extremely close. Historically the guy who can do more, who has more tricks in his bags, so to speak, they typically do better in the rematch. And that is Canelo in this case. I think Golovkin is getting a little older...he’s got miles on him.
“I think Canelo is going to make the adjustments and show a different side, and could possibly get his hand raised.”
On if he bought Canelo’s tainted beef explanation for his failed drug tests:
“I’ve heard of it, yeah, but, it’s tricky. That’s a heavy coat to put on somebody, that’s a heavy accusation. He did come up dirty, that’s his fault. He has to own it, that’s why he’s getting the backlash that he’s getting, and I’m just sensitive with those kind of things because I have my opinion but, you know, I kinda reserve jumping out there before I get all the facts.”
On how prevalent he thinks the use of PEDs are in boxing:
“Unfortunately I think it’s very prevalent, I think it’s swept under the rug. That’s why when I fought Sergey Kovalev two times it was mandatory that we do VADA testing...A lot of times fighters don’t want to do it because it’s extremely expensive. I also spent tens of thousands of dollars to do outside testing on all of my supplements, personally, that had nothing to do with anybody else that was associated with the event because I know that one headline and your career’s over, so to speak. You can keep going but it’s just something you always have to deal with.
“So unfortunately I think it’s very prevalent and this isn’t, you know — guys are hitting each other in the face and in the head. This ain’t a game! So we gotta make sure that the testing is up to par. I’m glad they caught what they caught with Canelo — don’t know the details — but again, you would hate for a guy to be on something and then go in there and hurt somebody.”
On the “resurgence” of boxing and it becoming widely available on a number of platforms:
“I think we have our highs and lows. You know, we have our good seasons, we have our bad seasons, but I don’t think boxing is going anywhere. I think it’s gonna be here to stay...so many other athletes and entertainers and personalities — they can all relate when it comes to showing up to a big fight. So I think we’re gonna be fine and I agree, all the different platforms that we’re having now, it can do nothing but benefit the sport and move it forward.”
On how important it is for the heavyweight division to be the flagship of the sport:
“I think, in some cases, as the heavyweight division goes, that’s how the sport goes. Like that’s what people know...I think the heavyweight division is back in discussion which is something that I’m happy about, and the fight that everybody wants to see is Wilder and Joshua. They gotta get the fight done!
“The fans don’t care about the semantics and what this promoter said — just get the fight done, let’s make it happen.”