Andre Ward has stunned the world of boxing by retiring shortly after returning to its summit.
The 33-year-old, who defeated Sergey Kovalev in June in a rematch of their bout widely touted to confirm who would assume the mantle as the sport’s pound-for-pound king, announced the decision via his official website and social media accounts.
A two weight champion, Ward steps down undefeated and leaves fans of the sweet science with a bitter taste in their mouths perhaps feeling short changed.
— Andre S.O.G. Ward (@andreward) September 21, 2017
A gold medal winner at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, great things were already tipped for the Oakland native who won his first title four years later at the expense of Jerson Ravelo.
For many, the true introduction to S.O.G’s abilities came by way of the super middleweight Super Six tournament where he became WBA champion by seeing off Mikkel Kessler in the first round.
Though it took two years to conclude, his performances in this competition are probably what will stick with punters and enthusiasts most and are how they’d like to remember him best – a smooth operator and defensive master who also knew how to work the inside to great benefit whenever the going got tough.
In the final came arguably his greatest display – a gritty outclassing of Carl Froch that saw also him crowned WBC, The Ring and lineal champion.
After more or less sending Chad Dawson into retirement, the world seemed to be Ward’s oyster until the commencement of a dark period that will perhaps mar his legacy.
More specifically, from late 2012 until last year, Ward was rarely active be it through long injury layoffs or ugly courtroom disputes with promoters and television networks which kept one of the most gifted fighters of a generation out of the ring, to the chagrin of fans who lamented such talent going to waste.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) September 21, 2017
In the eyes of many, Ward, though lacking the outspoken and controversial personality required to reach such heights as a devoted Christian and family man, could have equalled Floyd Mayweather in popularity and acknowledgment as the modern era’s best fighter had he remained in the public eye.
Prepared to leave the past behind as all was forgiven, these same corners were enthused by his emphatic return against Kovalev and a supposed intention to entertain mouthwatering main events as high up as heavyweight with comparisons to the last man to successfully pull off this feat, the supremely talented Roy Jones Jr., abound.
All that has been thrown on the backburner for now however and instead we are left wondering what could have been by a divisive figure who thrilled the purists but often left casual spectators frustrated with his uncompromising style.
As articulate on the microphone as in the squared circle, seen through turns commentating on HBO, a career in punditry beckons for Ward, who now truly passes on the torch to the likes of Terrence Crawford, Keith Thurman and the winner of Alvarez vs. Golovkin II to decide boxing’s next ruler.