By Rocco Morales
Tuesday morning, newly crowned WBA super middleweight champion, Andre Ward, and his promoter, Dan Goosen, hosted a press breakfast at Sisley’s Italian Kitchen in Sherman Oaks, CA, to talk about Ward’s convincing upset victory over dethroned Mikkel Kessler, Ward’s next challenger, former undisputed middleweight champion, Jermain Taylor, and also about his thoughts about his future in boxing.
Photos: Rocco Morales
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On November 21st, Ward put together his finest performance to date by totally outclassing one of the original favorites to win the Super Six super middleweight tournament, Mikkel Kessler, who came in as a clear favorite to defeat Andre Ward. However, Ward’s speed, agility and, especially, his in-fighting skills made it one of Ward’s easiest victories to date.
Ward spoke about the in-fighting and said, “Whenever we would get in close, Kessler would look for the referee for help. But the referee told us before the bout that if one hand was free for us to keep fighting, and that is exactly what I did. What Kessler saw was classic Bernard Hopkins,” said Ward, speaking of the style he tries to emulate when in-fighting.
Dan Goosen, talking about the fight, laughed about how many gave Ward little chance for victory and made mention of an incident with a journalist from Kessler’s homeland of Denmark. “The Danish reporter approached me after the weigh-in and proclaimed that Kessler had ‘won’ the weigh-in. How do you win a weigh in?” mused Goosen.
Although Ward’s championship winning victory over Kessler was a mere 10 days earlier, Ward already appeared to be totally focused on his next fight in the Super Six Super Middlweight Tournament, against Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor.
When asked whether or not he considers the hard part of the tournament over for now with his victory over Kessler and his next two scheduled fights against Taylor and Andre Dirrell, each losers of their respective first tournament fights, Ward said, “I am still chasing something. There are still belts out there and I want to eventually be the undisputed Super Middleweight Champion. This is not the time to let off the gas.”
Speaking about Taylor, Ward said, “Taylor’s problem was that he stopped improving following winning the title. I will not repeat this mistake and will fight to continue improving and to stay champion.”
However, both Ward and Goosen pointed out that Taylor was competitive for 11 rounds in his last two bouts with Arthur Abraham and WBC super middleweight champion, Carl Froch, and would have beaten Froch if not for getting knocked out in the last 15 seconds of their fight. But, the Ward camp believes they see a certain weakness in Taylor that they will be able to exploit, although Ward and Goosen would not divulge this weakness.
Ward believes that at just 25-years-old, that he is still improving as a fighter and will only get better as the tournament progresses. Now that he is the WBA super middleweight champion, however, he believes that he is in an even more dangerous position because he will no longer be overlooked. “It is more dangerous at the top of the mountain than at the bottom,” elaborated Ward.
While the venue of Ward’s March 03rd showdown with Taylor is still undetermined, Ward said, “I would love to fight in Las Vegas.” Goosen hopes to make the site either Las Vegas or Oakland, where Ward drew 10,000 fans to the Kessler fight.
When asked how Ward will measure up as a box office attraction to the more flamboyant and outspoken fighters out there like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Ward quoted from the Bible, James 4:6, and said “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, I need to stay humble,” said Ward.
Goosen summed it up a little differently and concluded “Andre is going to make classy fashionable again.”