ANDRE WARD knows he and Sergey Kovalev are fighting for supremacy in the light-heavyweight division, with the WBO, WBA and IBF titles on the line in their rematch on Saturday (June 17). Despite holding the WBC title Adonis Stevenson does not factor into the equation. After a series of soft defences over recent years he is far out in the cold.
“Right now that’s not something that’s really on my radar. Stevenson, I think he’s a good fighter, I think he’s got a lot of buzz in Canada but I think some of the moves he’s made over the last couple of years, he has a belt, he’s earned the belt and he’s defended it and you’ve got to respect that but I just think he had the opportunity to get in the mix and I just think he didn’t take that opportunity for whatever reason. Honestly he’s not really a guy that I think about,” Andre Ward said. “I think he’s coming to the party late. He’s had several years … and for whatever reason, I’m not involved in every part of their business, but it didn’t work out and I think you have to beat the best to be best and Sergey was the best in his division and I beat him and now I’m the best in this division.”
“As far as Stevenson I really don’t have even an opinion about him,” he added. “I respect him, he’s a champion but that’s as far as I go.”
He also warned Stevenson not to bother him after the fight. “He can come but just respect my space, man. Don’t get in the ring, I don’t do that stuff. He can come, I don’t stop him coming, he should come,” he said.
Rather than dwelling on the tantalising possibility of unifying all four belts in the division, it is all about this fight. “I’m on a mission to get in the ring, defend my belts and glorify God and go home and kiss my wife and kids. That’s the mission,” Ward said.
While Ward wouldn’t rule out trying to win a title in a third weight class, his days at super-middleweight are behind him. As he prepares to make 175lbs today, he said, “It’s not a struggle but it’s not easy. In the middle of that, that’s where I’m at now. I’ve got to be aware of what I’m eating. If I just let myself go I can get up into the mid 90s easy. If I’m diligent which I am in training camps I shouldn’t have any problems. No sauna, no sweatsuits nothing like that. But last couple of weeks you’ve got to be mindful and you should be aware of what you’re putting in your body and how much.
“I’ll never go back down. Once you go up, you can’t come down. Unless you can go up out of your weight class to take an opportunity but if you build yourself up and go to another weight class I think that’s a cardinal sin, you can’t come back down. MMA guys do it and they seem to have success and I don’t know how but for boxers it’s never worked out ever, it’s not a good thing.”
“I know what I’ve accomplished, I’m secure in that. I feel like I have a good grip on what I try to bring to the sport,” he said. While Ward doesn’t have much left to prove, fighting in Europe is one of his goals. He thinks about it “all the time”.
He added, “I’ve been wanting to do that for years. That’s a whole other beast out there. I love it, I respect it, I’ve been out there several times I would love to partake in something like that. I’ve got close a couple of times, it just didn’t happen, [Carl] Froch and guys like that, talking the O2, Wembley, it just didn’t work out. I’d love to, definitely. Anything’s possible.”