"Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face."
~Mike Tyson

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

My Readers Ask...Part 2 - Andre Ward

As promised here is the 2nd question from Glenn, one of my readers. He asks:

Also what do you make of Andre Ward these days?

Photo: boxrec.com
Oh, Andre Ward, where do I start? My opinion of the Oakland native is not a popular one and one that will ruffle a great many feathers. Before I give my opinions on Andre Ward let me first preface my comments by saying that I don't think Ward is untalented nor is he a bad fighter. That said I don't think much of Andre Ward as a fighter or a person nor is he the fighter many claim him to be.

As a fighter he's excellent at doing what he does (holding, dirty fighting, grabbing, single punches) but I don't think he's the master boxer he, the networks, nor most fans believe or want us to believe he is. He has just one gear and effectively shuts his opponents offense down by throwing one punch at a time before lunging in and grabbing/holding. He rarely ever puts the hurt on his opponents and this is because his offensive game is extremely limited; consisting mainly of one punch/move/hold...repeat. To this day we've yet to see Ward adjust on the fly nor change his game plan. Moreover he's never beaten one elite level fighter, not....one! Sure the judges awarded him a decision over Kovalev last fall but he was out boxed, over powered, and effectively counter-wrestled by the fearsome Russian. The only people that scored the fight for Ward, save the judges, were the fighter himself, Virgil Hunter, and boxing pundits/fans with an agenda.

There are then those people that like to use Ward's victory in Showtime's now ancient Super Six tournament as proof of Andre's greatness. While winning the tournament would make any boxer proud, it was a contest whose participants were B and C level fighters. This is a difficult pill to swallow for some boxing enthusiasts but it's the truth. Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler? Please! At the peak of their powers and on their best nights these two boxers where B and C level combatants respectively. Now I know what you're thinking, “yea ok so but he did beat Carl Froch.” For as good and respected as he was The Cobra from Nottingham was a one dimensional B+ level fighter. Exciting sure but hardly a world beater. So Andre Ward beat a handful of mediocre fighters without ever having to fight outside of his hometown and in a tournament that was built for him with the sole intent of showcasing him? I don't consider that a great nor an elite level accomplishment.

The post Super Six Andre Ward has made a career of fighting as seldom as possible and fighting C and D level guys. More to the point he goes the distance with guys like Alexander Brand, Sullivan Barrera, and Edwin Rodriguez, often while looking less than spectacular; not really a good look for someone who is supposedly an elite talent. Despite his tepid accomplishments Ward is heralded as a master boxer with some in the media mentioning his name and the Hall Of Fame in the same breath. I consider this patently absurd and disrespectful to what the the Hall in Canastota and it's honored warriors stand for.

Somewhere in the not too distant past boxing fans and members of the media forgot this is the hurt business and started rewarding moving more than punching and began awarding points to fighters based on their ability to not get hit, even when those fighters aren't hitting back very often. In the modern era of boxing, slicksters with mediocre and/or poor offensive games are showered with praises while aggressive fighters are admonished and those with power are dismissed as hype jobs, crude sluggers, etc. Ward is most certainly a benefactor of what many refer to as “The Mayweather Effect”. As a fighter Andre represents everything that should be loathed in boxing. He is a smug, angry, and entitled man who on occasion has retarded progress in his division, and purposely fights lesser opponents in redundant and excessive tune up fights. Most egregiously of all however he's an absolute bore to watch. He has little power, no killer instinct, takes few risks, and is a diva. The man has no desire to test or push himself which makes me dislike him an awful lot. In the past I was much more tolerant of fighters like Andre Ward but as I've gotten older and watched the sport of boxing hold guys like Ward in higher and higher esteem I find myself liking these types of guys less and less. If Andre Ward were to retire today yours truly wouldn't miss him and the sport would be healthier for it.

Oh and that handsome Andre Ward smile? Take it from someone who has not only lived with persons suffering from narcissistic personality disorder but whom also owns his own advertising business, it's as fake and transparent as they come.

Scott Jarvis is a boxing writer for Split Decision Boxing. He can be reached on Twitter or by email at splitdecisionbox@gmail.com.


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