I HAVEN’T felt this feeling, fight week in Oakland, in awhile. Last week those emotions started to set in. I’ve been focused and getting ready, but fight week is just different. No matter the magnitude of the fight you should feel like this. I’m excited. I’m used to this kind of pressure.
Smith has got no problem traveling. He doesn’t care if he bleeds. If you knock him down, he’s coming to win, and that’s why we picked him. We didn’t pick him because there was anything soft about him. We picked him because he’s a tough competitor. I’m glad that all of a sudden he started talking like he did last week. I was almost getting offended that he wasn’t saying anything. I’m so used to guys talking a lot. So, he finally started talking and I loved it. It’s not that I needed more motivation, but it’s just a little bit extra.
I’m coming back off of two layoffs. During this past camp, I felt a lot better than I have in the past. I did more. My shoulder feels stronger and I think you all are going to see that on Saturday night.
Each fighter has their own personal struggles. You can’t predict what those challenges and struggles are going to be and you can’t predict how long they are going to be. I was able to persevere through that. Paul Smith is not just fighting Andre Ward off of an eight week camp, he’s fighting Andre Ward off of everything I just went through. All the frustrations, all the delays, all of those emotions… he’s fighting that guy come Saturday night.
Every fight for me is a Super Bowl. I haven’t lost in a very long time. We prepared for everything that Paul Smith is going to have and everything he’s going to bring to the table. It’s a beautiful thing when fight week comes around and you know that you didn’t cut any corners. Every rep counted for me in this camp. Every round counted for me. I pushed past what my coach wanted me to do. There was nothing light about this camp. I hear Smith’s camp talking a lot about ring rust and if that’s what they are banking on, they have the wrong game plan come June 20.
The game plan is to razzle, dazzle, be explosive and do it all. I have to be aware as a professional. Virgil [Hunter, his trainer] has told me this whole camp: ‘There is no game plan for Paul Smith. Let it come to you. You’ve been boxing long enough that when you get in the ring you’ll know what to do.’ We’ll make adjustments along the way, but there isn’t a specific game plan for Paul Smith. I think you are going to see everything come Saturday night. I’m not going to force it. I’m just going to let it flow.
This town is a major fight time. It’s not just Oakland. It’s San Francisco. It’s Haywayd. It’s Stockton. It’s all the surrounding cities. Any time they have one of their own in the forefront, they support and that’s what I love about the Bay Area.
Watch Andre Ward shadowboxing below:
Video: Roc Nation Sports
Photo: Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Roc Nation Sports