Andre Ward: Back from Obscurity

andre-ward

Albert Baker

There’s a pound for pound best fighter in the world entering the ring this weekend if you haven’t heard yet. It doesn’t come as a shock when I hear “Andre Ward is fighting this weekend?” That’s the gross negligence in handling of one of the best if not THE best fighter in the world talking.

After becoming boxing’s last male American Olympic gold medalist (Clarissa Shields has a big one over the boys) in 2004, Andre Ward shot himself out of a cannon to land himself in the highest of elite classes of pugilistic chess, boasting an impressive list on his undefeated record.

“So what dude there’s lots of fighters with undefeated records” is the typical response when talking about the should happens and could happens. 533-79-14 that’s the combined records of those attempting to best a champion that cleaned out a smoking hot super middleweight division with ease. Only one opponent had a losing record against the self-proclaimed “Son of God”, Julio Jean in his eleventh bout as a pro; but we’re not here to just talk about the enormous talent flowing through the veins of Andre Ward.

Let’s face it, boxing doesn’t get a lot of media attention so a lot of the onus of building a fight is up to the promoter and well, the fighter.

Andre Ward is a good role model, a positive character in a sport that has been cursed with unsavory backroom dealings and American characters more focused on living out a rap video. Yes I’m talking about the Floyd Mayweather’s and the Adrian Broner’s and their belief that having haters means having success. Andre Ward doesn’t make you believe that he wants haters, or to be hated. You want to root for him, but more importantly You just want him to fight.

Four fights in four years because of a contractual dispute with the late Dan Goosen that saw the Oakland native lose in court to the beloved and charismatic promoter. The contract issue was settled after the tragic and sad death of Goosen, followed by a highly publicized signing with newcomer RocNation Sports occurred; the public would finally get the Andre Ward that tore the Super Six tournament open like a bag of chips, back on our television sets to take his rightful place and rid their minds of Floyd Mayweather’s antics at the top of American boxing.

It hasn’t happened. Not yet.

Ward owns a bulk of the responsibility for his drop to Rigondeaux like obscurity. Russian, Sergey Kovalev has shot to stardom with his fight often approach in building his empire, and promoter Main Events more specifically Kathy Duva did what it took to keep Kovalev knocking people unconscious by lining up fights even when the big one wasn’t available.

Duva kept Kovalev on television, more specifically on the high production quality of HBO for the world to see; because when you see Kovalev or Gennady Golovkin knock someone down so hard that they wouldn’t get up if you counted to a million it does something to you.

It makes you want to see them again.

Nobody wants to see Ward again is the huge unseen problem, over time the magnificence of the Super Six and dismantling of the most elite in his division just floated away leaving no momentum in its wake. Ward believes he is the big fish still, and four years ago he was. Now he’s that guy that could’ve been or the fighter that we say stuff about, like “remember when Andre Ward beat: Kessler, Green, Bika, Abraham, Froch, and ended Chad Dawson’s career? All in a row?”

Ward faces a tough customer in Cuban boxer Sullivan Barrera this Saturday in his hometown Oracle Arena next door to the Oakland Coliseum. Should he win, and the fight with Kovalev fails to materialize RocNation could learn a thing or two from their competitor and keep Andre Ward on television.

So we’ll want to see him again.

And again.