by David P. Greisman
Andre Ward hasn’t lost a fight since he was a teenager competing in the amateur ranks. He won a gold medal in the Olympics, was the true world champion at super middleweight, and is now, at 32 years old, a fighter whose record is 30-0 with 15 knockouts.
He’ll be the underdog when he faces Sergey Kovalev for three light heavyweight titles on Nov. 19. And that’s fine to Ward, who said he’s long placed himself in that role.
“I’ve always felt like the underdog,” Ward told boxing media members at a gathering earlier in September. “You guys got to realize that as successful as I’ve been able to be as a professional, and this isn’t a knock on anybody, I was never hailed as the guy, I was never pushed as the guy. So you got to realize what that breeds in a person, as a competitor and as someone who believes in his ability, where there’s always a ‘but’ behind a performance or an accomplishment. I’ve always felt like that I was the underdog.
“This is no different to me,” he said. “I’m comfortable in this space. I don’t feel like wow, they think I’m going to possibly lose. Even in victory, there’s still a ‘but’ behind it. as a competitor, someone who really loves what he does, you take that a certain kind of way and use it as ammunition.”
Ward says Kovalev’s never fought a fighter like him, but he also admits never to having fought a fighter like Kovalev. That doesn’t mean he feels there will be anything to come out of this fight that he hasn’t already had to handle.
“I’ve been on the canvas. I’ve been buzzed. I’ve been cut. What else can happen?” Ward said. “I’ve tasted all of that. Naazim Richardson used to say swim but don’t get wet, young man. I understand my type of style and how it can look and how sometimes it can be perceived, like it’s too easy, he doesn’t get tested.
“I get tested every day in the gym,” he said. When you get hit hard with a punch and get buzzed, something like that happens, that’s a fight or flight moment, and I’ve answered that call for 20 years. There’s never been one time I’ve tapped out or went back and said I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to go back out there. It’s just not in me.”
Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]