Ward is not done yet. Though the 33-year-old is beginning to feel the weight of all his years in the sport. “I still love it. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it. It’s extremely hard and to be honest with you. [Virgil Hunter] doesn’t have to push me. Virg is there as my eyes and my ears. He sees what I can’t see. His job is to manage what I’m doing, tell me if I’m doing too much. He makes sure that I’m right on point. That’s his job. If I need him to push me at this stage of my career something’s wrong. His job is to pull me back, tell me to take a day off, ‘no we’re not going 12 rounds of sparring today, we’re going to go eight.’ That’s Virgil’s job and obviously the technical piece of it as well,” he said.
“I tell you what. As you get older, I still have the desire, I still have the passion but I’m very, very aware that I’m punching my clock when I go to the gym. And when you’re in your early twenties you don’t think about it. You just go in there and you warm up for five minutes and that’s it. Now it takes me about 30 minutes to get ready. So I know I’m getting a little older. I feel like I have a lot in the tank.”
WBC light-heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson is not high on the agenda. Ward explained, “No disrespect to Stevenson but I haven’t really been thinking about Stevenson. I’m kind of indifferent toward that match up right now because when I made the move to go to 175lbs the target was Kovalev. It wasn’t Stevenson and even though I was at 168lbs I saw how they didn’t fight for two years, for one reason or the next. So that means something. So in a sense I feel like he almost disqualified himself. Not saying the fight can’t be made but it’s got to make a lot of sense because I went straight to the top guy, I’ve got to see if that makes sense. I’m not ruling it out. We’ve just got to see.”
Nor was completing a trilogy with Kovalev hugely appealing, although Ward did not rule it out. “It may make sense if he fought Stevenson, won a belt and two or three fights down the road,” Andre mused.
Ward does want to take on high profile opposition. “Someone with a big name. Bring me a Conor McGregor!” he said. “Boxing rules though. No MMA rules.”
His ultimate goal though is real recognition in the sport. He wants to end up in the Hall of Fame, saying, “I want to be there one day and I hope this gets me closer to that situation.”