ANDRE WARD, widely considered to be one of the best fighters on the planet, has a goal of becoming an “all-time great” as he prepares to fight Alexander Brand on Saturday night (August 6).
The unbeaten American must beat Brand in order to secure a monster fight with light-heavyweight supremo Sergey Kovalev on November 19 in Las Vegas.
However that sizeable carrot is not enough to distract Ward from the task at hand, or his long-term goals of cementing a legacy.
“I’ve been given a tremendous opportunity. God has blessed me a lot. There’s an inscription in the bible that says ‘to whom much is given, much is acquired,'” he mused.
“He’s given me a talent, and I’m probably not the most talented, but I want to make sure I use it the best I can. I’m running my race right now in this professional game, and when I look back I want to say that I didn’t cheat anybody, that I gave everything that I had, and this is what I have to show for it.
“Finishing strong is really important to me. Becoming an all-time great is really important to me. I’m just giving God a return on his investment, because he’s invested a lot in me. I’m thankful.”
Brand, a career super-middleweight (a division Ward once ruled), will be a heavy underdog at the Oracle Arena in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, California.
At 39, the Colombian’s best days are behind him though Ward is not taking him likely.
“I know enough about Brand. He’s got everything to gain and nothing to lose. He swings for the fences with every punch. He’s a dangerous guy to fight,” he said.
“I’ve never seen Brand in person. It’s tricky, in my last fight, Sullivan Barrera was a little bit bigger than me. Everyone made a big deal about that, and Brand is smaller than me. You’ve got to be able to get it done, short or tall, explosive or wild.
“Brand is wild, so it’s going to take a few rounds to break him down and tame him before we start doing what we want to do. As a championship-caliber fighter, you’ve got to be able to deal with everything, every style and size. I’ve never seen the guy in person, so it’s hard to gauge.”
Ward served a hefty hiatus between 2013 and 2015, and even contemplated retirement during his time out of the ring.
He defeated Barrera in March, marking his official debut at light-heavyweight and providing him with the opportunity to build some serious momentum.
“It was good to get back in camp right after the last fight. I was a lot sharper early in camp than I normally am,” he said.
“The last couple of years, typically, you have to get the rust off first, then work on getting sharp, work on technique and the game plan. This training camp was continuous of the last training camp, I probably put in over 130 rounds. I feel really good.
“I don’t know how much stock you can put into the last couple of years. A lot of people are talking about it, but people have to weigh in the amount of time I have been doing this, which is all my life.
“You look at Floyd Mayweather, he took a couple of hiatuses and it may have given him two or three more years. It was a mental break and it was a physical break. Taking those couple years where maybe you’re not fighting as frequently, it’s not always a bad thing, especially late in your career.”