Feature | Jan 29 2018

What is Andre Ward ‘working on’?

He only announced his retirement in September but already Andre Ward is dropping hints about a return. Elliot Worsell looks at the reasons why a great fighter might have had a change of heart.
andre ward
andre ward 1  |  Khristopher Sandifer/Roc Nation Sports

IF anyone else took to social media to inform the world they had just stepped on a set of scales and weighed 199lbs, promising you it’s all muscle, baby, you’d scroll right past it. Immediately. Quickly. You’d be within your rights to hit ‘unfollow’. Yet because it was Andre Ward, and because it came with a tantalising postscript – “I’m working” – you not only read it and re-read it, you then started to read into it, dissect it, explore what was actually meant by it.

Andre Ward is different to other boxers; different to other human beings. When he says he is working, and when he makes a point of mentioning his weight – nearly 25 pounds above his old fighting weight, no less – you do, albeit begrudgingly, wonder what he’s cooking and allow yourself to care. You jump to a conclusion or two. You assume, naturally, a retired fighter is about to un-retire.

Furthermore, what separates Ward’s un-retirement tease from those of other attention-seekers is that if he does indeed announce a comeback, the Andre Ward that re-emerges will, we’re led to believe, be markedly different to the one who announced he was leaving back in September. And that makes it interesting. Why? Because Andre Ward weighing anything over 200lbs screams jeopardy and risk and potential disaster. It screams history-making. It screams strategy. It means his opponents might have a chance. (This is a man who moved to light-heavyweight – a division Virgil Hunter, his coach, repeatedly said was anything but natural for him – because nobody wanted to play with him at super-middleweight anymore.)