Feature Story

Ward finishes the conversation

By Robert Hough
Photos by Laura De laTorre

Andre Ward couldn’t resist grinning a little and asking the question–“Hummingbird?”– to Lou DiBella, Allan Green’s promoter, at the post-fight press conference. Green, who said before the fight that Ward was speedy, elusive and harmless, “a hummingbird,” wasn’t there. He was taken to a hospital for a check-up after Ward hammered him for 12 rounds at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

DiBella, who entered the room looking like a man had invested his life savings in BP, was expansive in his praise for the WBA super middleweight champion.

“He’s a very, very, very, very good fighter,” DiBella said before the press conference. “He’s very cerebral, very smart. He’s dominated two top 168-pounders in a row and I was surprised by how strong he was.”

Ward, who won every round on all three judge’s scorecards, said he’s not one to start talking, but if someone wants to start it, he’ll finish it.

“I’ve always said that it’s all about what you do, not what you say, but when people talk it motivates me that much more and I’m not going to back down,” he said.

There was a sense that Green did just that.

“It definitely felt like he stopped trying to win,” said Ward, who broke out a huge smile when he saw his wife and kids enter the room. “He was still throwing punches, but he was holding a lot and just surviving. He wanted to fight inside, in spurts.”

It was easier than expected, but not easy, Ward said.

“I expected a difficult fight, a tougher fight from Allan Green,” he said. “Even so, I had be mentally alert at all times. Right now, I just want to go home and get some rest.”

Andre Dirrell, who watched the fight from ringside and faces Ward in the next round of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic, said Green was sunk after the first couple rounds.

“I knew it was going to be a long night for Green if he didn’t damage him early in the fight,” said Dirrell, who called for their bout to be held at a neutral site. “When that didn’t happen, all he could do is GFB, go for broke, but he let Andre Ward execute his game-plan,”

Having built a mammoth points lead in doing so, Ward tried to finish his opponent rather than stay away to ensure Green didn’t land a lucky punch.

“I wanted the knockout,” Ward said, smacking the palm of his left hand against the table. Then he smacked the table again. “I wanted the knockout.”

Ward, who was full of energy and joy after beating Mikkel Kessler to win the WBA title, was more subdued after defending his belt.

“I’m really tired, just mentally and physically drained, but it does feel a bit different,” he said. “I feel like a real champion now. It’s one thing to win it and it’s another thing to keep it. I really feel like a champion.”

Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter, who gave his fighter a “B” for the performance, was generally pleased with what he saw.

“It was a good fight in the development of a young fighter,” Hunter said. “He did a lot of things well, but we’ll be back and better for Andre Dirrell.”

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