Photos: Squint Photo
Deferring to the recommendation of a noted Bay Area orthopedic specialist after receiving a second opinion on his injured right shoulder, reigning WBA/WBC Super Middleweight World Champion Andre “S.O.G.” Ward underwent successful surgery, which will keep him out of action for an indefinite period and has forced the postponement of his highly-anticipated title bout against Kelly Pavlik for a second time. Originally scheduled as an HBO “World Championship Boxing” main event from the Galen Center on the campus of USC on January 26, the bout was rescheduled to March 2nd after the 2004 U.S. Olympic gold medalist, “Super Six” World Boxing Classic tournament winner and 2011 “Fighter of the Year” felt pain in his right shoulder after throwing a punch at sparring partner Tony Hirsch during training in Andre’s hometown of Oakland. The original MRI revealed a significant amount of swelling and inflammation, but no injury to the rotator cuff.
However, after a period of rest and rehab resulted in little improvement, Andre sought a second opinion from Dr. Michael Dillingham, for 25 years the team orthopedic surgeon for the San Francisco 49ers and currently for the San Francisco Giants. A subsequent MRI revealed a small tear in Andre’s right shoulder capsule and, this past Friday, surgery was performed by Dr. Dillingham at the SOAR Surgicenter in nearby Burlingame. Assisting the doctor on the surgical team were his partners Ken Akizuki (team orthopedist for the Giants) and Joe Donahue (former 49ers assistant team orthopedist and current team physician for Santa Clara University).
“Technically, things went very well and all involved are very hopeful about the eventual outcome,” stated Dr. Dillingham. “Within a week, Andre will begin his rehab.”
Lisa Giannone, of Activecare Physical Therapy in San Francisco, will head up Andre’s rehabilitation team.
“The doctor said Andre will initially have his arm in a sling where he will be better prepared to give a timeline for Andre’s recovery process once the sling is removed,” said promoter Dan Goossen.
“Andre has always surpassed everyone’s expectations and I told Dr. Dillingham he can expect the same fire from Andre with his rehabilitation as the fans see when he’s in the ring.
The timing is unfortunate for Andre (26-0, 14 KOs), whose fast-track rise to elite status since winning his first world title in 2009 against reigning WBA super middleweight champ Mikkel Kessler — then capturing the WBC version in late 2011 against brash Briton Carl Froch and, in his most recent domination of current WBC light heavyweight king Chad Dawson — has vaulted him near the top of the “Pound for Pound” ratings and cemented him as a recognized superstar worldwide.
“My surgery went very well and I am definitely pleased with the outcome. I had a fantastic team of surgeons overseeing everything on Friday morning and they did a great job of repairing the injury. I am confident that I will return to the ring even better than I was prior to the injury,” stated Ward.
“I really want to thank everyone for all of the prayers and support that my family and I have received. We truly appreciate it and it has helped throughout this process. I can’t wait to get back out there and perform for all my fans and plan to keep everyone updated on my progress. The best is yet to come so stay tuned.”