"I remember when I was signed with Top Rank and I was in Johnny Tocco’s Gym in Las Vegas. I was up in there sparring with the Gold Medalist and the Bronze Medalist from Russia, and here comes this kid up in there. I watched him in the Olympics. He came in there to spar some pros and he gave it to them, man," stated former world champion Cory Spinks," wrote former world champion Cory Spinks, who penned an open letter to former undisputed light heavyweight and super middleweight champion Andre Ward following the announcement of his retirement. Check it out!
CORY SPINKS OPEN LETTER TO ANDRE WARD:
Andre Ward was my favorite active fighter and I just think he was one of the best that ever did it. I remember when I was signed with Top Rank and I was in Johnny Tocco’s Gym in Las Vegas. I was up in there sparring with the Gold Medalist and the Bronze Medalist from Russia, and here comes this kid up in there. I watched him in the Olympics. He came in there to spar some pros and he gave it to them, man. I was like, “Damn, this dude is the truth.” Ever since then, and he could vouch for this, I took a liking to Andre. He exceeded my expectation of himself. That’s my first memory of him because that was the first time we met in person. I think J. Prince was just about to sign him. He was out there checking him out and low and behold this man done became one of the greatest boxers that ever did it. People can say what they want and downplay this dude because I think the way the media done downplayed this dude throughout his career is not fair. This guy is awesome, man. Not only did Andre Ward do it his way, he did it the right way. The dude has been nothing but a good guy. No mishaps through his career. He had some stumbling blocks in the road as far as contracts and the business aspect of it, but other than that, he’s been obsolete of trouble or anything like that. This dude went through his career with really no problems as far as the media and all that and I don’t see how people could miss that. How do you miss his brilliance outside of the ring by staying out of trouble and his brilliance inside of the ring of getting in trouble, but getting out of it?
The fight that stood out to me the most, if not the most, it was definitely the fight where I realized this dude was going to be something special, was his first fight in the Super Six against Mikkel Kessler. The way he whooped Mikkel Kessler's ass, I said, “Man, ain’t nobody gonna beat this dude.” I knew nobody in that tournament was going to beat him and look what happened. This man done retired, record unblemished, moved up in weight to fight one of the most dangerous guys in boxing and beat him not once, but twice. And to be honest, they still ain’t giving this dude no credit, man, and that’s crazy to me. When this goes up, people will criticize me for saying he’s one of the best to ever do it, and the ones that say that are the naysayers. They don’t know nothing about boxing. I was raised in this. I didn’t have to learn this. It was a gift. From the sport I love, I know a very good boxer, with intelligence and ring generalship and all of that. This dude showed everything I just mentioned and he just so happened to be one of the good guys of the sport. He is a very humble dude. I don’t see how people cannot look upon this dude as not being one of the greatest that did it and an ambassador of the sport. It’s crazy and sad that people voice their opinions about things that they have no knowledge of. For any man to not lose in an individual sport since before he was a teenager is probably one of the most difficult things in the world to pull off, especially in a sport where it only takes one punch to change everything. Capturing Olympic Gold is a hell of a feat, but then he moved on and excelled as a pro as well and walking away with an unblemished record.
His greatest asset in the ring was his mind. His ability to think in that ring and make the proper adjustments. He was able to change his game when it was necessary for him to. Andre Ward could fight any way he wanted to and that was proven. He could make his opponents fight any way he wanted them to and that was also proven. He could stand in there, he could box, or he could make it ugly. The thing about it, he can make it ugly, but he still not getting hit, but people don’t see that. Andre Ward single handily ruined Chad Dawson’s career. After that fight, Chad Dawson started getting hurt by damn near everybody. Andre stopped him and he was never the same after that. I take my hat off to Andre Ward because there aren’t too many people in the boxing game that have the ability and the knowledge to adjust in fights and come out victorious. There is some talent still in boxing, of course, but I just haven’t seen that full-fledged gift. They got guys out there that can fight they ass off, but I haven’t seen that gift or specialness that I see in Ward. You don’t fight a guy like Sergey Kovalev twice and get put down in the 2nd round of the first fight and 18 rounds later, you never get hit with the same punch from that man again. That’s special. And the only mistake he made when he got knocked down was he was countering, but Kovalev was already in the motion to punch and Andre countered at the wrong time. He learned from that mistake and it never happened again the rest of that fight; 10 rounds or the 8 rounds the second fight lasted. The crazy thing about it, he fought him the exact same way damn near. He fought him the exact same way. He kept going to the body and he ended up stopping him. Kovalev is a great fighter, a dangerous fighter, and I think it takes another level monster to beat Andre.
My lasting impression, I want to say goodbye to a great, phenomenal fighter, a good friend, and an amazing student of the game. He always tells me when I see him, “It’s a pleasure to learn from you,” and I’m honored by that because I got an all-time great telling me he’s learned from me. I’m flattered by that and I think it will be a long time before we see another Andre Ward. The fighters that’s in the game today is up and down. It ain’t total domination by anyone. Andre Ward is a special person. He had a special gift and he went out on his own terms. What more could you ask for? He will be missed in the long run because, like I said, I think it will be a long time before we get another guy like him.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]