Andre Ward: ďI think Bute is a great talent and I would love to fight him one day to clear up this mess about whoís the bestĒ

boxingby Geoffrey Ciani - This weekís edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio featured an exclusive interview with reigning WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward who recently scored a dominant victory against Allan Green in round two of the Super Six. In round one, Ward shocked the world with the impressive nature of his victory over tournament favorite Mikkel Kessler. Ward is the only participant in the tournament with two wins and he tops the overall leader board and is guaranteed a spot in the semi-finals, but first he must square off friend and former Olympic teammate Andre Dirrell in group stage three of the tournament. Here are some excerpts from the On the Ropes interview with Andre Ward:

On his one-sided unanimous decision victory against Allan Green in group stage two of the Super Six:
ďIn terms of the results, itís what we expected. We expected to dominate, but obviously I expected a different kind of fight. My team and I, we worked throughout training camp on fighting inside and pushing him back. Basically, to show Allan Green that Iím physically stronger than him and that I have basically a superior inside game than him in spots in the fight like Iíve been mentioning in previous interviews. I didnít expect for him to stand there with me that long, and believe it or not, even though through most of my professional career Iíve displayed great boxing skills and different things like that, I really like fighting inside. Itís something I do a lot in training camp. The inside game is something we work on and drill a lot in training camp and itís just showing up now in the fights. So I was pleased with just the way the fight was fought. There are obviously so many different things from my perspective that I think I could have done better, and of course getting a stoppage is one of them, but I think it was a fun fight. I think it was a good fight for the fans and Iím just pleased we did what we had to do and secured a semi-finals spot in the Super Six tournament..Ē

On whether he was surprised Allan Green was able to last the distance against him:
ďHe definitely stopped trying to win. Just looking back at it, I went to my godfatherís house whoís also my trainer, Virgil Hunter, the day after the fight and I walked in the house and he said, ĎMan, great fight but you know we could have stopped him, right?í I said, ĎYeah, I knowí. Looking at the fight and just kind of playing the fight back in my head, thereís just certain areas in a fight where, when a guy has stopped trying to win heís still dangerousóespecially a guy like Allan Green. Thatís his game is to, in certain spots, close his eyes and throw the big left hook so sometimes when youíre in there, in the moment, it doesnít seem as though heís ready to go because heís still trying to dig. I mean, Iím feeling the body shots that heís throwing when weíre inside. I know that I have the edge in that moment but heís also fighting back, so part of me is saying, ĎHey, this guy is still dangerous. Heís not going to win this fight, but heís just looking to throw a 90 yard bombí. So thatís kind of where my mindset was, but looking back at it I definitely saw certain areas where I could have just literally just stepped it up, let him try to fight back for as long as he could, and either clipped him and dropped or stopped him or made the referee stop the fight or the corner stop the fight. Itís just a good learning experience and I just think that I donít want to beat myself up too bad over that, but itís definitely something that Iím going to take into my next fight and just try to seize the moment when I have a guy like that pretty much ready to go.Ē

On how he feels about being paired off against friend and former Olympic teammate Andre Dirrell in group stage three of the Super Six:
ďFirst of all, I mean obviously this is not a fight that Iím yearning for. Itís not a fight that Iíve necessarily dreamed about and I would have loved for us to fight down the road and even worse case scenario in the finals of the Super Six, but it didnít turn out that way. I think Andre knows and I know that itís business and we got to do what we got to do. At the end of the day, we want to continue to cement our legacies in the sport, we want to continue to move forward, and we want to continue to make a living for our families and by doing that we both got to try and come in here and win this fight. So I think heís ready. Heís been to my last couple of fights and heís been scouting me and watching me, and Iíve been watching him for years. Contrary to what other people believe, Iíve known that Andre Dirrell was a beast long before he did what he did to Abraham. Like you said, Iíve come up in the amateurs with him and Iíve watched him for years so I know what he possesses and I know that heís a warrior. Sometimes people think being a warrior is just throwing caution to the wind and sticking your chin and telling the other guy to hit him. Thatís not what being a warrior is all about. Being a warrior is being able to go in and implement your game plan and fight your fight and to be disciplined about it. So I know Dirrell possesses that and he showed it in the Abraham fight and I look forward to a very competitive fight in this next round of the Super Six.Ē

On how he intends to maintain his mental focus in light of his recent success and the fact that his upcoming fight is against a friend:
ďFirst of all, staying focused in the midst of having success, like you mentioned, is not an easy thing to do. Iíve quoted John Wooden throughout my preparations for the Green fight and what John Wooden basically said, and Iím paraphrasing a bit here, he basically said that Ďthe praises and criticisms of people, you canít get caught up in either one because itís a weakness to fall into either trapí. That being said, believe it or not, thatís something that my father and Virg, my traineróthatís something that they raised me and my brother, that mentality is what I was raised on. You know Iíve experienced success at many levels as an amateur and was fortunate to be a top amateur for many, many years, but it was always the type of atmosphere around me where I was always reaching for more. I would win something, I would accomplish something and weíd relish it for a short time but it was always back to work. So itís kind of ingrained in me. Not to say that I canít lose focus, Iím human, but that mentality is ingrained in me and I just try to stay focused and realize that, ĎHey, this is one major reason for my success and if Iím going to continue experiencing success, I have to keep this mentalityí. Now as far as fighting Dirrell and how am I going to stay focused? I have no choice. Thereís no room in this sport for distraction. Iíve never wanted to be a guy, and once again even though itís possible, I never wanted to be a guy who went into a fight and didnít prepare and had to tell the announcers afterwards and tell the whole world that, ĎHey, I took this guy lightly. Iíll be back next timeí because I didnít prepare, or ĎHey, I mentally wasnít there. I physically trained, but mentally I wasnít all the way thereí. Iíve seen that for years and thereís always been something in me that says you have to be prepared. You have eight weeks or you have ten weeks to lock in on this particular guy and itís our job to get it done, so once again, Iím going to have to find a way to get it done. Thereís just no room to be distracted right now.Ē

On how he thinks Lucian Bute would potentially match-up against someone like Bernard Hopkins:
ďYou know thatís interesting, very interesting. Just keeping everything in perspective, I try to be a realist. Lucian Bute is a great talent. He seems to be very strong, he seems to hit relatively well, but we have to be honest and look at his last three fights. He fought Andrade who, quite frankly, everybody hits Andrade. He gets hit a lot. Heís been taking a lot of punishment for years and to his credit, heís been known to have an iron chin and heíll keep coming but itís just like kind of chipping away at an old block. You keep chipping away and at some point that block is going to give away and I think thatís what happened in his fight with Bute. He gave Bute all he wanted, and in some respects, he really won the title that night. Bute got a long count. We all understand that but then next fight, hey, Bute did a great job. He caught him with a good body shot and that was that. A lot of people made a huge deal about that, and I understand because I donít think Andradeís ever been stopped. I donít remember if Kessler stopped him or not, I donít remember, but he had the mentality of being a really tough hard-nosed guy. So I understand that. He fought Edison Miranda and the way he stopped him was impressive, but we have to keep in perspective that Mirandaís been in a lot of wars and once again, you keep chipping away at a block and eventually all you have to do is hit him in the right spot and heís going to go. I think Bute is a great talent and I would love to fight him one day to clear up this mess about whoís the best, but obviously I got a lot of work to do here in the Super Six. Bernard Hopkins is a different type of beast and I like Bernard at 170 more than I do at 175. For some reason when heís in that 170 range, like for example in the Pavlik fight and different things like that, he seems to be just a bit quicker and he just seems to be very sharp so you have to go with the old wolf in this fight and you have to assume that heís going to find some tricks. Even if he doesnít win this fight, itís going to be a rough fight for Lucian Bute. Trust me there wonít be a one punch knockout victory for Bute in this fight. Heís just too crafty, too seasoned, and he knows the ring inside and out.Ē

On how he sees the fight going between Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green in group stage three of the Super Six tournament now that he has already soundly defeated both fighters:
ďThatís a very interesting fight. Iíve been really thinking about that lately and actually talking about it a bit, too. Itís very interesting, because I would have to say that Kessler, even though he lost to me, I thought he was a lot sharper and a lot crisper in our fight. Thatís just my opinion. I thought his effort was, you know, my kind of style is such to where it could mentally take a guy out of a fight. They just stop trying to win, even though theyíre still in the ring and theyíre answering the bell for each round. In the Froch fight, he was more just guts and he just kind of let it all hang out, but I didnít think that was a very sharp fight for him and I didnít think he looked sharp at all. That being said, I donít know which Allan Green is going to show up. If a focused, well-prepared Allan Green shows up and the Kessler that I fought shows up it should be a very entertaining fight, but itís kind of tough because you donít know how much has been taken out of Kessler because heís been fighting a long time. He has right around fifty fights and Allan Green, we all donít know how heís going to respond from this fight with me, also. Itís very interesting. I think weíre going to try and do a split feed so obviously I canít watch it live but Iím interested in seeing how that turns out.Ē

On whether he believes a mega fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will happen:
ďI donít. I donít, and Iím saddened by it because obviously this is the fight we all want to see and itís the natural fight that should happen. You got both guys at their peak. Floyd is getting a little older but heís still got it, heís shown that in his last several fights and Pacquiao is basically at his peak. I just donít see why this fight canít be made. I understand about different snags in negotiations and Iím learning more about that as I progress so I understand that sometimes there are things you got to deal with. Sometimes guys donít want to budge, but I just think that there should be give on both sides and if thereís give on both sides then I think the fight can be made. Itís really tough for one guy to demand 60-40, 70-30 splits as far as the money because they both have an argument. For 50-50, I think if both guys really want this fight I think theyíll make the necessary concessions, do a 50-50 split, come to terms on drug testing so both sides will be comfortable, and just give the world what they want to see.Ē

On how he sees a fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao playing out if it does get made:
ďItís a very, very, very interesting match-up. I mean, my pick is Floyd Mayweather, but I definitely see Pacquiao early in the fight being a major problem in terms of his speed and his quickness, but Iíve seen Floyd for years, Iíve watched him for years, Iíve studied him for years and he always seems to make the necessary adjustments. Floyd is still very sharp offensively and defensively. That being said, I think Floyd will make the adjustments. It will be a tight fight early on, but Iíve noticed that even when Floyd is fighting tight early on he never panics, and thatís one thing that Iíve taken from Floyd. Hey, even though you may be in a close contest for six rounds, a championship fight only starts after the sixth round. So he always seems to pull away right at the right time and secure a victory. Pacquiao gets hit a lot. The Joshua Clottey fight, a lot of people complained about the lack of offense from Joshua Clottey but when Clottey did throw his punches, he landed. We saw it on Pacquiaoís face after the fight and trust meóFloydís going to be doing that and some offensively. I see a very tight fight early on, I see a Pacquiao whoís not going to give up and whoís not going to quit, but a Floyd Mayweather who wants to silence his doubters, keep his undefeated record, and cement his legacy once and for all and I think that Floyd Mayweather is going to pull away and be victorious.Ē

On how he feels he will perform in hostile territory away from his home turf in California:
ďItís not a problem. I have no problem fighting outside of Oakland. I think that sometimes on these websites, sometimes on these message board people need something to talk about so thatís been a topic of discussionóme fighting at home. What people have to realize is Iíve only fought three fights at home and I fought close by in San Jose maybe a handful of times, but the rest of my fights have been on the road and as an amateur almost all of my fights were on the road. So Iíve been there before, Iíve done that as a professional and an amateur, Iíve had a nice three fight ride here at home and I know the Dirrell fight is going to be on neutral territory. Hey, Iím looking forward to neutral territory. I hope it can be in Vegas. I never fought there before and obviously itís a boxing town, and itís rich in history concerning the sport of boxing. So Iím looking forward to going on the road for a season, but if all goes well weíll be back and weíll do Oakland bigger and better, but itís not something that Iím dreading to do. Itís part of the game and I just think people are making more of a big deal about that than they really should. You know Lucian Bute, and Arthur Abraham, and Joe Calzaghe, and some of these European guys, they fought exclusively at home and they get praised for filling up the arena, and they get praised for being a draw at home, but for some reason when I fought home back-to backónot even counting the Green fight, when I just had Miranda and then came back and fought Kessleróit just seemed to be a big deal like people almost wanted me to apologize like I was almost being done a favor, and thatís not what it was.Ē

On what he thinks of the current state of the heavyweight division, whether he thinks a good American heavyweight will emerge in the near future, and whether he believes some of the lower weight classes are beginning to have a greater appeal for American fans:
ďItís funny you mention that. I was watching a Lennox Lewis marathon last night and just watching his fights, my wife was watching it with me and she said, ĎMan, there are no heavyweights right now. Many people donít even care about the heavyweight division anymoreí. I said, ĎI know, itís sadí. I mean I just remember when Tyson was on top doing his thing and when Lennox was doing his thing. It was just a good crop of guys that America was excited about. I donít think thereís ever going to be a division like the heavyweight division where everybody understands that hey, thereís one boss, thereís one main guy, and that at any moment now this fight can end in a drastic way by one punch. Obviously that can happen in any division, but itís just something special about a heavyweight champion. Iím hoping, and I know that thereís a young heavyweight out there somewhere whoís not going to go to basketball or football who wants to fight. I really hope heís out there because especially in America, the Europeans have dominated for a long time in this division. The Klitschkos, and I have a lot of respect for those guyótheyíre putting in the work and theyíre doing their thing. With that being said, I think itís time that we bring some of those belts back to American soil, but as far as if the other divisions are gaining steam, I think so, and I think the Super Six is a good deal and I think these are the kinds of things that we go to do to kind of appeal to the masses and get not only boxing fans but just casual sports fans and just normal people to watch our sport. So I think the Super Six is heading in the right direction. There was some talk early on about it not being finished, but I think weíre just about halfway there and I think weíre going to finish the Super Six nice and strong. Iím hearing a lot of talk about other divisions picking up where we left off and doing a top six or a top four in another division. I think itís good, I think these other divisions are gaining steam, but there will never be anything like a heavyweight divisionóthere just wonít.Ē

On what he thinks of Chad Dawson as a fighter and what he thinks of Dawsonís upcoming fight against Jean Pascal:
ďMe and Chad, we got the same manager in James Prince and Iíve watched Chad for many years. Heís a great talent, a southpaw, heís not the biggest fighter for that weight but he has the height and the reach, heís definitely got the skills, and heís proven himselfóheís beaten some great fighters and some guys that will probably go in Hall of Fame. You got to respect him. Thatís a fight that I would definitely look forward to in the future. You know, Iím not afraid to match myself up against the best out there because some of these match-ups, Iím curious to see how it turns out. Obviously I believe Iím going to win, but I want to see how my style matches up against some of these guys that are out there right now. Hey, I think that would be great. After we take care of business with the super middleweight division, he said heís willing to move down, at some point I would definitely want to move up so we just got to see how things turn out, but thatís definitely a match-up that I would look forward to. I think his fight with Jean Pascal is a very interesting fight because heís fighting another young hungry lion whoís very fast, very explosive, very strong, and I think heís going to see a right-handed version of himself in a sense. Heís going to see another young guy whoís not willing to give up his WBC belt so easily, so Iím looking forward to that fight hands-down.Ē

On what weaknesses of Dirrell he thinks he will be able to exploit when they face each other in group stage three:
ďWell you know me, I donít give up too much. I canít give up too much because thatís just the nature of the sport, but I think our styles are going to cook up some amazing flavors for the boxing fans and just to the world itself. I think this is going to be a very exciting fight. I feel a buzz about the fight and when the Super Six first got signed on a lot of people were talking about that fight and it was a ways off. Now itís here and Iím excited to get in there and just see what it does. Iím just excited to see how it turns out.Ē

On whether he sees himself stopping Dirrell or winning over the distance:
ďI donít know. Like I mentioned to you, definitely coming off the heels of my last fight and just looking at the areas where I feel personally I need to improve, if I have the opportunity Iím definitely going to step it up in certain spots and thatís just me raising the bar. So if I have the opportunity, absolutely, Iím definitely going to go for the stoppage and try to not only get three points but add another knockout to my record, but obviously when youíre swinging for a homerun, nine times out of ten youíll never get it. So itís definitely something in the back of my head with anybody that I fight, when you get that opportunity seize the moment and it will be the same thing in my next fight with Dirrell.Ē

On what fans can expect from him for the remainder of the Super Six:
ďHey, Iím just excited to continue to move forward. There has been a lot of talk about me securing my place in the semi-finals. Rest assured that Andre Ward is not letting off the gas. I have an ultimate goal, and thatís to be super champion in this weight class and I have three more fights to go before that becomes a reality so Iím still working, Iím still grinding, and Iím going to stay humble and am going to continue to represent you guys to the best of my ability, so I appreciate all the support. Even the haters out there, I appreciate you, I need you, too. I need you guys to help me stay motivated and stay focused. No hard feelings. Iím just going to keep trying to put on great performances.Ē


For those interested in listening to the Andre Ward interview in its entirety, it begins approximately fifty-seven minutes into the show.


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Article posted on 03.07.2010

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