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ANDRE WARD: "I'M LOOKING FORWARD TO CLOSING THE SHOW IN SPECTACULAR FASHION"

By Ben Thompson | August 22, 2011
ANDRE WARD:

"We'll probably start camp in September, but we're training right now. We're training all the time. Obviously it's too early to step on the gas with the fight being so far away, but we're always in some kind of shape, training and preparing ourselves mentally and physically...this is for all the marbles and I'm up to the challenge and I'm fit for the task. I'm ready to go...I was always thankful to be in the tournament because prior to this tournament, there was a lot of other good super middleweights that could've been in this tournament. I didn't have to be in there. I hadn't really done much; I was still an up-and-coming guy, and I was just thankful to Showtime, and also to my team, for making sure that I was in the tournament because if I wasn't, I was on the outside looking in and there wasn't much competition outside of the Super Six...now we're in the finals, so I'm ready man. I believe in myself, I believe I'm here for a reason, and I'm looking foward to closing the show in spectacular fashion," stated WBA Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward, who just embarked on his three-city press conference tour to promote his upcoming showdown with WBC Super Middleweight Champion Carl Froch in the long-awaited finale of the Super Six Tournament. Check out what he had to say about the fight, the tournament, and much more.

BT: Dre, what's going on my man?

AW: Man, I'm doing good.

BT: I caught you on Friday Night Fights. I thought you did a great job. How do you think it went?

AW: Well, you know, I mean, I'm always very critical of myself. I can definitely do better in, you know, just kind of taking a deep breath and relaxing a little bit. It normally takes me a fight or so to really start getting into my groove, so I felt like right around the main event is when I really started kind of flowing. All in all, I felt like I did a good job. I just feel like the more I do it, the more I'll be settled. I got some great compliments from [Joe] Tessitore, some of the executives, stage managers, producers and stuff, so all in all, I think it was a good night.

BT: Watching it on TV, everything looked like it was flowing pretty smoothly. They even brought in Vince Vaughn to do a piece with you guys, huh?

AW: Yeah, that was cool. He seemed like a cool guy. Bo Jackson was in the building too.

BT: I saw. You got a chance to sit ringside for Demetrius Andrade's fight. There were some boos coming from the crowd, but what did you think of his performance?

AW: I thought he did what he had to do. We talked about this as a broadcast team before the fight; both fighters took this fight, I think, on 2 1/2 weeks notice. They were in the gym, but obviously not preparing for the fight, so that being said, I mean, he not only did what he had to do, but he fought a good fight. The kid is 23 years old, he has 13 fights, and just because Demetrius has a strong amateur pedigree, that doesn't mean that he needs to be rushed into a contender or championship situation. You know, sitting ringside, I mean, all night long, Brewer was looking to lay traps, looking to land shots, and Demetrius is an experienced kid, so he could see that. That being said, he dominated the fight and he got out of the fight without taking a lot of punishment.

BT: Floyd Mayweather always talks about not taking punishment. How important do you think that is for a fighter to not take damage in a fight in order to preserve and prolong your career.

AW: People take that comment and they think that you're a reluctant warrior because you don't want to take punishment, but that's not the case. I mean, a kid like Demetrius, myself, or even Floyd, we've been boxing pretty much our whole lives, so it's not a fear factor; it's not anything like that, but at the end of the day, if you have God-given ability and talent to avoid punches and to basically dominate a fight, then that's what you do. At the end of the day, if something is wrong with you and you're talking funny and you're walking funny, like I always say, you're going home to your family and they gotta deal with that. No fans, no reporters, and nobody else is going to come and pay your bills and feed you, none of that stuff, so if you got that kind of skill, then use it!

BT: Like Floyd says, it ain't cool to take punishment.

AW: Nah, it's not. Let me tell you, I'm reading Sugar Ray Leonard's book right now, I'm about halfway through it, and he mentioned in there, it's not word for word, I'm paraphrasing, but he mentioned that he came up in an era, being the heir apparent to Muhammad Ali, where the art of boxing, the skill of boxing was more respected. It's a different era that we're in today. We're in the MMA era; we're in an era where guys just want to see knockouts. It's all about TV, and I understand the entertainment value, but for whatever reason, maybe I'm off, but what I saw Friday night out of Demetrius, what I see out of the masters like Bernard Hopkins, even older fighters like Salvador Sanchez, to me, that's entertaining because I'm literally seeing this guy's artwork in this fight. I'm seeing him take another fighter, who's trying, who trained, who has a game plan, who wants to win just as much as he does, and really just taking his strengths away and just making it a night that's really not fun. He's getting his, but he's not allowing the other fighter to get his. When you see a guy do that, man, you have to respect it, and to see Demetrius do it at such a young age, it's just a matter of time. This kid, if keeps working hard, he will be a champion. And there's no rush. When he gets 25, 26, 27 years old, it won't matter who you put in the ring with him. He'll be ready for everybody.

BT: Do you think that maybe it's due to a lack of educating the fans, not teaching them the true difference between brawling and the Sweet Science and what is to slip punches, to counter punches, etc., or is just because times are different now?

AW: I think it's a combination of both. I think it's a lack of education. I think that a lot of the boxing fans today haven't watched the fights from the 60's, 70's and 80's. They just kind of become boxing fans or fight fans, mixing boxing and MMA together, and have just become fight fans over the last 2 or 3 years. They tune into these networks and stuff and they hear, "Oh, that was a devastating knockout" or "Oh my God, this is a war," and they expect every fight to be like that and that's just not a reality. Every running back in the NFL is not a bruising running back. Every basketball player is not a bruising, run-through-the-lane, knock-you-down and get an And 1 type of player. There is such a thing as skill and some guys use it, and just because they're more skillful, it doesn't mean they're any less tough than anybody else, it doesn't mean that they're reluctant warriors, it just means they go about their craft another way and should be respected just like everybody else.

BT: Is that frustrating at all? Do you feel like guys like yourself and Floyd, guys who are skilled and technical, don't get the type of recognition they deserve as opposed to fighters who are face-first brawlers that just slug away at each other?

AW: I think when I was a younger fighter, it would probably frustrate me more than it does now. I didn't quite have the understanding that I have now from being a student of the game and watching the older fighters, like I said, from the 60's, 70's and 80's, and different things like that. I understand now, so, you know, I don't get offended. I don't necessarily feel like I'm not appreciated. I just understand. I understand the era that I'm in and hey, it is what it is and I gotta keep moving regardless of what people say.

BT: I talk to a lot of fighters and you're one of the ones who actually seems like they have a game plan as far as their post-boxing career is concerned. When it comes to life after boxing, are you already setting yourself up for the future once you're done fighting?

AW: Absolutely. I mean, I think that I have to because the reality is, as much as I hate to admit it, I'm pushing 30 right now. I'm 27. I'm not that young 21 or 22 year old no more. I'm pushing 30 and, as of right now, I'm not saying this is law or it's etched in stone, but I see myself going another 3 to 5 years in this sport, so I have to prepare myself and my family accordingly. Financially, I tell my wife all the time and she tells me that, hey, we don't necessarily want to live now. We want to live later. We want to look back and have something to show from all the training camps, all the sacrifice, all the hard work and different things like that, so yeah, we're definitely looking towards the future. Broadcasting is something that I have a passion for. It's not just something that I want to do. It's something that I really have a passion for. And I want to be in Ministry one day, so I definitely have some personal goals and different things that I want to do. I'm thankful that I'm able to get some of the reps that I'm able to get right now on the networks that I'm able to get them on, so we'll see what happens. But mentally, I am looking to the future while staying focused on the present. It's a fine line to walk, so I'm trying to toe that line.

BT: So you're heading out [Sunday] for the UK to start the hype and the promotion for the big fight.

AW: UK, New York, and then back home in Oakland. Three stops.

BT: When are you starting camp?

AW: Well, we'll probably start camp in September, but we're training right now. We're training all the time. Obviously it's too early to step on the gas with the fight being so far away, but we're always in some kind of shape, training and preparing ourselves mentally and physically.

BT: Has it sunk in yet that we're finally at the end of the Super Six Tournament? This is the big one.

AW: Absolutely. Without question, this is for all the marbles and I'm up to the challenge and I'm fit for the task. I'm ready to go.

BT: Before the tournament actually started, when you were thinking about your career, did you envision that you were going to run the gambit on all the guys you've fought thus far?

AW: Well, I was always thankful to be in the tournament because prior to this tournament, there was a lot of other good super middleweights that could've been in this tournament. I didn't have to be in there. I hadn't really done much; I was still an up-and-coming guy, and I was just thankful to Showtime, and also to my team, for making sure that I was in the tournament because if I wasn't, I was on the outside looking in and there wasn't much competition outside of the Super Six. So that was first and foremost. And then from there, I always believed in myself. I felt like I would win the Super Six, but obviously I was realistic about the work that was cut out ahead of me and the three guys that I had to fight were already etched in stone, so I wasn't worried about the semi-finals or the finals. I was just locked in. I never looked at it like a tournament. I always looked at it like individual fights, like we had Kessler first and if we beat Kessler, then we're supposed to beat Jermain, and if we beat Jermain, then we're supposed to fight Dirrell, so I never got caught up in the points, who was ahead, who wasn't ahead, who was the favorite. I just tried to keep it as a singular event; this is who I'm fighting, this is the big fight right now. And then we looked up and we're in the semi-finals, we took care of Abraham, and now we're in the finals, so I'm ready man. I believe in myself, I believe I'm here for a reason, and I'm looking foward to closing the show in spectacular fashion.

BT: The fight's in Atlantic City. This is going to be your first time AC, right?

AW: First time, yep. I fought in Connecticut once before, so I've been on the East coast, but first time in AC.

BT: They had the big controversy regarding the judges out there for the Williams-Lara fight. Is that on your mind at all or does it even matter?

AW: Well, I think they took care of those judges. They suspended them. I would be concerned if they were the judges for my fight, I took note of their names, but I doubt they'll be. I think they're still on suspension. I always keep a close eye and a close ear to what's going on, but that's not first and foremost. My team will take care of that. We'll make sure we approve it. I'm sure Carl's team will make sure they approve of everybody, and then it's time to go to work.

BT: Carl Froch is a rough-and-tough type of fighter. Given the controversy the other week regarding the referee in the Agbeko-Mares fight, is their any concern about making sure you guys get a ref that's going to let you fight your fight?

AW: Well, who's rougher and tougher, I guess it depends on who you talk to, but I'm comfortable with that kind of fight. I'm very comfortable with that, so I'm not concerned about that in the least bit. The referee and the judges, I think they'll be competent; I hope they'll be competent, but if not, you know, then you have to make the adjustment. I was not pleased with the refereeing in my fight with Abraham. I mean, it was literally a situation where I was not allowed at all, not even a little bit, for 12 rounds to work inside. The referee broke us immediately and it was a situation where I had to make the adjustment. I felt like we could've stopped Abraham down the stretch because he doesn't give you much to the head, so we had to improvise and work the body and do different things like that, but we never had the chance, so the point being, we had to make adjustments. You always hope for the best, most competent judges and referees, but you can't worry about that. I think we'll be fine. I think this is a really big fight and, epsecially with all the different things that went on with the Mares and Agbeko fight, I think everyone will make sure that we got the best of the best.

BT: You said you have to make adjustments. How much does that affect your performance when you've got a certain game plan in place, but you're forced with the decision to change it because you're not being allowed to do what you want to do?

AW: You do the best you can. It does affect you because you have a game plan and when a referee puts you in a situation where you can't implement that game plan, it does affect you, but I just kept telling myself that's not going to stop me. I never want to be one of those guys to allow something like that to happen and then I'm in the post-fight interview using that as an excuse on why I lost, so I had to make the adjustment.

BT: I don't want to talk too much about the fight because I know we're going to have you on the site a lot more leading up to it, but I'm definitely looking forward to the press conferences to kick things off. Is there anything you want to say before I let you go?

AW: That should do it. I just wanted to touch base. It's been awhile so hopefully we'll get something in again real soon.

Be sure to keep up to date with WBA Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward on his Twitter page @AndreWard and his official website, http://www.andresogward.com

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