By Miguel Maravilla
Fight fans flocked to Vegas this past week for the biggest boxing event of the year, “The One: Mayweather-Canelo.” It was a week filled with festivities from the fighter arrivals, the workouts, the press conferences, the weigh in and the event. The fun continued for the boxing crowd as they had a chance Saturday afternoon to meet WBA super middleweight champion Andre “S.O.G” Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) at the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas.
FightNews spoke with the 2004 US Olympic gold medalist Ward as he discussed his rehab from shoulder surgery, his return to the ring, potential showdowns, contract disputes, and his potential opponent. “Everything is good. It is just the business side of things being held up,” Ward said referring to his November 16th showdown with top contender Edwin Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KOs).
“The Edwin Rodriguez fight is a fight everybody kept talking about including him. I agreed to the fight last night (Friday the 13th). He said publicly that he wants to fight so we signed the contract for November 16th on HBO,” outlined Ward.
“He is a good fighter, hungry with momentum so he should be taken serious. In terms of his style he tends to fight harder not smarter,” Ward observed.
The 2011 Fighter of the Year has been out of action since being sidelined due to a torn rotator cuff which has plagued Ward for quite some time. His last fight was over a year ago when he stopped Chad Dawson (September 2012).
This year has been a quiet year for Ward as he has spent it recovering from surgery.
“Obviously the injury has been tough but I have been rehabbing, battling back from that. I have been fine physically for the last three months. It is part of the game. I have been boxing for 20 years. My rotator has been torn for sixteen years since I was a kid. It wasn’t like a brand new injury. I just built the muscles up around my shoulder and worked through it,” Ward explained.
The 29-year old Oakland fighter is definitely in a league of his own as he has beaten everyone in his path including Mikkel Kessler in his first big test when many felt that the Kessler was too experienced.
Along with Kessler, Ward has beaten five current or former world champions, including current WBC Super middleweight Sakio Bika, the hard punching former world champion Arthur Abraham, current super middleweight champion Carl Froch, and former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson.
“I mean they keep saying there is no one to fight after we beat everyone but there are people to fight. The landscape is constantly changing from 160 to 175, so there is always someone to fight,” Ward forecasted.
Froch was recently offered four lucrative fights by HBO, including a rematch with Ward. Ward defeated Froch by unanimous decision in December of 2011.
“I am not looking for that fight (with Froch) and I am not chasing it but if he feels that it was an injustice the first time around than we can do it again,” Ward said. “The bad blood is real between us!”
Other names at 168 also include the arrival of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. as he will be making his super middleweight debut later this month against Brian Vera.
“I think that’s the one. I mean, I think Chavez Jr. is willing to fight, I am willing to fight. I don’t think he can make 160 no more. Some people discredit Chavez that he is not a good fighter, but that guy can fight,” Ward stated. “So if I win my next fight, he wins his next fight, that is a fight I think has to happen first quarter of next year. It needs to happen.”
Another interesting scenario would be a showdown with Gennady Golovkin moving up to 168 to possibly face Ward. The WBA champion gave his thoughts on Golovkin: “I think he is a good fighter. He is on the rise. Of course, with the media, you know any guy that has pop in his punches is the scariest guy in the world!”
Perhaps his toughest fight this year has come outside the ring as Ward filed for arbitration to void his promotional contract with Goossen Tutor Promotions. The California State Athletic Commission ruled against Ward, consequently Ward will set aside his differences as he looks to continue his dominance in the super middleweight division.
“These last three months there have been issues with my team. When you are in the business these things come. A lot of what was said wasn’t accurate and true. If I feel strong enough to take someone to court then I have to but at the same time we have to move on,” Ward concluded.
Anxious and eager to get back in the ring Ward will now sets his sights on Rodriguez as he has done his part with signing the contract.
Now it’s in the hands of Rodriguez to sign the contract to give fans a showdown between undefeated super middleweights.
“It will be a tremendous eye opening performance when you are out for a year like me with injury and issues with my promoter! All this is making me hungry!”
“I am eager to get back in the ring! It should be a good fight. He doesn’t believe he can lose, I feel it is my time. First thing is first. I just signed my agreement. I am not sure if he will sign. The fight will be made once he signs. the ball is in Rodriguez’ court,” Ward concluded.
Follow me on Twitter @MigMaravilla