AHEAD of his mouth-watering showdown with light-heavyweight behemoth Sergey Kovalev at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Andre Ward admitted he had grown tired of the super-middleweight division, but he had not outgrown it. Instead, he was driven up in weight by the desire to prove himself and create a legacy like greats of the past.
“It was threefold,” Andre Ward said when asked why he moved up to the 175lb class, and straight towards a fight with Kovalev. “It was the weight – but I could have held off for a couple more fights [at 168] – it was legacy driven, and it was tough to get guys in the ring, it was so tough.”
Ward, who was locked in a legal battle with now passed trainer Dan Goossen for several years, has not fought at super-middleweight since defeating Edwin Rodriguez in 2013. That contest was only for Ward’s WBA title, after he had lost the WBC strap out of the ring.
“I had a situation with my [super-middleweight] belts where they were mysteriously getting stripped,” Ward explained. “I didn’t get a heads up about this, I didn’t do anything wrong, and it’s like, ‘Yeah, don’t worry about that.’ But I was like, ‘But he just took my belt!’ It happened like two or three times. The WBC took it, gave it back, and then took it again. I was like, ‘Okay, I’m done’.”
Ultimately, though, it was Ward’s desire to be great that took him to Kovalev’s door.
“It was a combination of things but legacy had a lot to do with it because you look at the all-time greats, they all went to other weight classes, they all went up,” said the 32-year-old. “The Ray Robinsons, the Ray Leonards, Ricky Hatton, Mike McCallum, go down the list, Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones. They went up and took on those bigger challenges.”