As far as Andre Ward is concerned, it’s thanks, but no thanks.
Ward, the former unified super middleweight and light heavyweight world titleholder, said Friday that he is not interested in coming out of retirement to fight newly crowned light heavyweight titlist Canelo Alvarez.
Since Alvarez, boxing’s biggest star, climbed two weight divisions and scored a sensational 11th-round knockout of Kovalev on Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to win a title in a fourth weight division, there has been rampant speculation that perhaps Ward would exit retirement to take on Alvarez in a megafight.
However, Ward, who twice defeated Kovalev, shot down the speculation during an interview on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Friday afternoon.
“I’m not coming out of retirement to fight Canelo Alvarez,” Ward said. “There’s been a lot of talk — when that fight was signed and, obviously, since Canelo got the victory over Sergey Kovalev. My phone’s been blowing up nonstop. There’s been a lot of pressure from individuals in the business, entertainers, you name it, trying to pull me out and it’s just not something that I’m interested in doing.
“But don’t get me wrong. I’m a fighter at heart. It’s not hard to talk me into a fight. It’s actually harder to talk me off the ledge and I have great team members [and] we sit down and talk about these things and I have to keep my word. And I have to stick to my conviction that I made Sept. 21, 2017. I feel like I’m gonna be a better asset to the sport of boxing, my family, my church — all the things that I’m doing as a retired fighter than I would be if I came back.”
Ward (32-0, 16 KOs), 35, of Oakland, California, had a brilliant career but it ended far sooner than many expected when he stunningly announced his retirement on Sept. 21, 2017 despite being viewed by many as the No. 1 boxer in the world pound for pound at the time.
Ward’s retirement announcement came just three months after he stopped Kovalev in the eighth round of their rematch in June 2017 to retain the three light heavyweight world title belts he had taken from Kovalev by controversial decision in their first fight in November 2016.
Ward won an Olympic gold medal in 2004, and cleaned out the super middleweight division as he unified two belts by decision against Carl Froch to win the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament in 2011. Injuries and a dispute over his promotional contract kept him out of the ring for long stretches following the Super Six, but he eventually moved up to light heavyweight for the final five bouts of his career, culminating with the two wins over Kovalev, who went on to regain 175-pound belts twice before losing to Alvarez.
Ward has remained involved in boxing since retiring. He is part of the management team that represents newly crowned featherweight world titlist Shakur Stevenson and he also works as a broadcaster. First he was with HBO, but since the network ended its boxing coverage last December, he has worked as a ringside analyst on the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN cards.