By Ricardo Conde
Photo by Goossen Tutor Promotions
WBA super middleweight champion Andre “S.O.G” Ward (22-0, 13 KOs) of Oakland, CA retained his title on June 19, having dominated Allen Green (29-2, 20 KOs) over 12 rounds to win via unanimous decision at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, CA. Andre Ward took time of out his busy schedule to sit down and talk to us about his fight with Allen Green, his fight with Mikkel Kessler, his upcoming fight with Andre Dirrell and a lot more.
Here’s what he had to say:
With just a couple weeks after your fight, how do you feel at this point?
I feel real good, physically I feel good, and mentally I’m feeling good. I’m just getting mentally prepared for this next fight. I’m already thinking about how I can get better, how I can improve and just get better as a whole.
Did you do anything different in this training camp that you haven’t done for your previous fights?
Actually, no. There’s always different game plans, there’s certain things you do based on your opponent but as far as drastic changes no. We’re always being careful, we’re always working hard, always respect our opponent so we can prepare accordingly and always expecting to win and look good. Training camp went smooth; everything was just perfect as planned.
Did you think the fight was going to be a lot tougher than it actually was or you made it seem, and why?
Well, I definitely expected more offense and more resistance from Green, especially with all the talk before the fight. With that being said, no one else was in the ring but he and I so no one else felt those body shots like I did and felt what he was trying to do to me, so it wasn’t easy. He fought the best fight he could and I give him a lot of credit, he could have quit many times during the fight but he didn’t so I know he tried and I take my hat off to him for that but I did expect more offense from him in general.
What kind of statement were you looking to make in your fight with Green; were you looking for the knockout?
Unfortunately if you go in there looking for the knockout you never get. You never want to go in there looking to knock him out; it literally comes because sometimes you end up being the one that gets caught on the short end of the stick. So it’s definitely not something I went in there looking for. I went in there with a game plan and let the fight unfold it self.
Going into the twelfth round of the fight, you were obviously winning, yet you decided to continue to fight instead of stay away. Why was that, did you feel you had to?
Statement is a word seldom used and I did want to make a statement, I really wanted to. Towards the end of the fight I knew he stopped wanting to fight so I went into the twelfth wanting to stop him. Allen Green has a lot of experience so he made up his mind that he was going to survive so he moved away ate the clock up and did certain things to suggest all he wanted to do was survive so that didn’t make it easier on me. We always want to find ways to get guys out of there and get that knockout if I have guys in the position I had Allen Green, even if they just want to survive.
You’re scheduled to next face Andre Dirrell, your former teammate on the 2004 US Olympic team, for the Super Six Tournament, what do you know about him and what’s your opinion of him as a fighter?
I’ve always known Dirrell, he has the potential to be a great fighter, and he put on such a great show against Arthur Abraham. I’ve always admired his skills and when he and I meet its going to be an unbelievable match up, the boxing fans are in for a real treat.
Both of your last victories came in your hometown of Oakland, what does it mean to you fighting in front of thousands of people at the Oracle Arena; do think there was any added pressure for you to have a great performance?
I don’t know if there was added pressure; I think just different pressure. There’s always pressure; I’ve never understood why guys say there’s no pressure, there’s always pressure. I’ve just learned to deal with it and still learning to deal with it and the key is just staying focused. You have family members, your friends yelling your name and I just try not to get caught up in the moment so I try to block everything out and handle my business. Then when it’s all said and done and my hands are raised in the end I’m able to acknowledge the people, shake hands, thank everyone for coming out and that’s when I realize how special it is to fight at home. People come up to me and tell me they came all the way from here and there and we just want to represent you and support you, its huge so there’s nothing like fighting at home, nothing like it.
Let’s talk a little bit about your fight before Green.
In your outing before Green you were able to stop Mikkel Kessler in the 11th round, was he the best opponent you have faced to date and what’s your opinion of him as a fighter?
I don’t know if he’s the best, skill wise I think he’s the toughest I’ve fought so far. People want to put down Mikkel Kessler because of our fight but he’s proven himself. He’s proven that if he loses a title he can come back and become champion again, he did that after our fight so now he’s a three time world champion. Anybody that can win a world title three times and only have two losses in the process says a lot. He’s a great fighter and I give him a lot of credit and I have a lot of respect for him.
Going into the fight with Mikkel Kessler you were considered the underdog, many boxing observers considered him the higher caliber fighter, how did you feel about that going into the fight?
Kessler was the favorite but in those types of situations you can’t get upset that people aren’t picking you to win. It’s your time and your opportunity to show everybody what you’re made of. That’s what the Kessler fight was all about, I hadn’t fought for a world title before and a world champion but deep down inside I felt like I belonged. I felt like I had the potential and I understood the moment and I understood I wasn’t being picked to win and of course I used that as a motivational tool to help me prepare for that fight.
What does it mean to you to be a part of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic Tournament?
It’s a really big deal to me because it’s an unprecedented event. It’s stirred up a lot of excitement among avid boxing fans and even people that aren’t really into boxing because of Fight Camp 360 and a lot of people are tuning in. I just appreciate the opportunity from Showtime and everybody else involved my team and my promoters; I’m just really happy to be a part of it.
You’ve been able to dominate two of the top super middleweights, why do you think that is and do you see similar results in your upcoming fights?
It’s just a lot of hard work; it’s been a long time coming, years of preparation. I give God glory for the power and the strength and he’s given me, the ability to go out there have all this talent but I’ve also been putting in the work along with the talent. There’s a lot of guys that have been given the same talent but didn’t do anything with it and I don’t want to be one of those guys, I want to take the blessing God has given me and see how far I go with it. My team and I love to set the bar really high, I’ve never just wanted to be just a good fighter or just a world champion. I’ve always wanted to be a reigning world champion and become great. You don’t just get greatness over night, it takes a lot to get to that point and I realize that. I’ve realized all the wonderful things I’ve been able to accomplish is really not much at all in the scope of greatness when you want to be great and want to be considered great. I want to be a hall of famer and all that good stuff and I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing; I appreciate the accomplishments but there’s still a ton of work to be done.
What kinds of influence do think your father, Frank Ward, had on you and what do you think it means to him now that you’re a champion?
My dad would just be going crazy right now. Not only is this my dream but it was his dream too. The sacrifice that I’ve put in, he did too, emotionally, physically, his time and just to see the things we talked about, dreamt about come to pass, my dad would just be on top of the world right now. Each moment that I accomplish is very sweet but at the same time there is some bitterness because he’s not here. I miss him dearly but he’s also a motivating factor for me. I think about him also when I train and compete and even though he’s gone and passed away everything he’s invested in me is paying off and his life is still speaking to me, through me even though he’s gone.
What’s your opinion of the current super middleweight division?
The super middleweight division has grown in terms of popularity and you have to accredit that to the Super Six. I think the winner of the Super Six should fight the other recognized champion, Lucian Bute, to see who the best is. If I’m the last man standing, that’s who I would love to face, is Lucian Bute. He’s very talented and I have a lot of respect for him and I think the best should fight the best and we’ll see who is considered the best.
Is there anything you would like to tell your fans?
As always, I want to tell them thank you. There are a lot of fans that follow that are near and there are a lot of fans from afar, so I appreciate all of them. I appreciate the ones that show up to the fights, I appreciate the ones who log on to my website, www.andresogward.com and send me positive messages and encouraging words. All I can say is thank you and I’ll continue to by working hard, not taking any shortcuts and hopefully being someone you’re able to follow and worthy of your respect. So I just want to say thank you and I’ll continue to do my part.