Andre Ward has always been there for Shakur Stevenson. The Hall of Famer was in the building on the night Stevenson won his first world title. He was also there when Stevenson unified the super featherweight division against Oscar Valdez. So, unsurprisingly, Ward sauntered into Stevenson’s locker room earlier this month as he began wrapping his hands prior to his showdown with Edwin De Los Santos.

Becoming a three-division world champion was a salient moment for Stevenson. Ward knew it and wanted to give him all of the support he needed.

Not for a single moment did the former two-division champ believe that his successor would have too many issues in the ring. But as the rounds ticked by in a slow-paced matchup, sweat began to form on his forehead.

Defensively, Stevenson (21-0, 10 KOs) was smooth but offensively, he was lackluster. Although he officially became a three-divisional world champion, Stevenson’s performance has been lambasted left and right. Ward, however, won’t take part in the public bashing. From his point of view, Stevenson did what he had to do.

“He got a belt, he just got a check and he just kissed his baby,” said Ward to K.O. Artist Sports. “It was a good day.”

Stevenson might be appreciative of Ward having his back, but he isn’t buoyant. By and large, the newly crowned champ is beating himself up. Although he did suggest that a bothersome shoulder injury stopped him from being his normal self, Stevenson still can’t believe how poorly he performed in front of some of his pugilistic idols.

Ward, despite winning every fight in his career, didn’t always bring his A game. So while it might be difficult for some to understand why Stevenson is being so hard on himself, Ward recognizes why his good friend is sulking.

“He’s an elite athlete so when you don’t dominate the way you're used to dominating it kinda feels like a loss.”