“Everybody knows me, I’ve never been afraid of the Boogeyman.”
Andre Ward, early 2013.
Well what about "Superman"?
Even his promoter Dan Goosen, with whom he's had an acrimonious relationship with to say the least, has attempted to sneak up and say "BOO!" on a few occasions. Beyond the dominant presence of Adonis Stevenson, who's been hitting people with kryptonite on his way to 10 consecutive KO's, there's the looming specter of Sergei Kovalev- who some might regard as a modern day "Candyman". Then of course, there's Gennady "GGG" Golovkin, seemingly everyone's ultimate boogeyman. But no matter who tries to pull out Ward's ring skeletons like so many Halloween decorations, the super middleweight boss known as the "Son of God" doesn't believe in costumes.
"They're being pushed as the Boogey Men in their divisions. Golovkin in the middleweight division, and Stevenson and Kovalev in the light heavyweight division," said Ward, THE RING's consensus No. 2-rated fighter, pound-for-pound, behind Floyd Mayweather Jr.
"I don't see a win over either one of those guys right now catapulting me past the Floyd Mayweathers or something like that. But to be perfectly honest, I'm eating and sleeping and drinking Edwin Rodriguez. Those are not even something that's on my mind right now, at all. It's about Edwin and it's about defending my titles. It's about returning on Nov. 16 and that's as far as I can take it right now."
Since injuring his right shoulder and having subsequent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff (which nullified a fight with Kelly Pavlik we didn’t want to see anyway), Ward has been mired in pain more by promoter Dan Goosen than by the recovery itself. So bad did Ward want out of his situation with Goosen, he took things to an arbitrator in California to have his contract undone.
The judge was like, “unt-uh”.
What Ward really wanted, was to team with Bob Arum and Top Rank after dumping Goossen. This would've realized his desire to fight Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. for a payday he most certainly deserves, given his stature in the sport and all he did to attain it.
Unbeaten as a pro and an amateur dating back to when he was 12, Ward is nuanced in the ring arts unlike any other fighter in the game today (excluding Mayweather). His is the way of the throwback, as he more or less shoeshine’s his opposition before polishing them off. There’s no gimmicks to his craft or him for that matter - he’s way more substance than style – but he isn’t without his detractors. He’s chided in way Mayweather isn’t for a perceived boring ring demeanor and delivery. But it has more to do with what he isn’t outside of it, than anything else.
Ward does not engage in a pompous nature or classless subterfuge. He is a true champion and sorely needed ambassador for a sport that doesn’t understand his reticence. We’ve all seen him on HBO as a guest analyst and the fine job he does there- but he’s somehow not visible enough and is lost in translation to mass appeal. Perhaps this has been the source of his consternation with Goosen, as fighters like Stevenson and Carl Froch (who he's already defeated) have upstaged him in performance and perception.
THE RING and WBA super middleweight champion, who will end a 14-month ring absence this Satuday against Edwin Rodriguez at Citizens Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., can go a long way toward getting back on track for superstardom with a brilliant performance.
Fiercely connected and loyal to a bay area in need of something to cheer about (because the Oakland Raiders certainly aren't), Ward has recently displayed the look of a fighter with much to prove. Negotiations were tense between the Ward and Rodriguez camps, and boiled over recently with the insinuation that Ward somehow balked at PED testing. All of which means we'll have ourselves a very nasty final press conference, and some real bad blood at the weigh-in.
And I love it.
ANDRE WARD VS. EDWIN RODRIGUEZ
I was starting to grow uncomfortably "comfortable" watching and listening to Ward on HBO telecasts, and don't think I've ever been so happy to see Roy Jones Jr. again in my life next to Jim Lampley.
Andre Ward is back at last- and faces formidable opposition in Edwin Rodriguez.
A tall and lanky blend of dangerous aggression, Rodriguez is a big super middleweight coming off of te most impressive win of his career. In a pulverizing 1st round TKO of Denis Grachev, Rodriguez was every bit a Hispanic version of something out of a horror movie. I think of Edwin, and I see someone in the mold of Delvin Rodriguez "prior to" Miguel Cotto. But unlike Delvin, I expect Edwin Rodriguez to push Ward, and enter the ring with the mentality of Freddie Kruger. Problem is, it'll be Ward with hands of blades.
Andre is the most calculatingly deceptive and destructive practitioner in the sport. His refined subtleties will allow him to blunt most of Edwin's aggression while systematically discouraging and breaking him down. It'll be a close action fight for a few rounds, until Ward's rare brand of old school artistry starts to raid Rodriguez in waves.
Not looking the least bit rusty in a dominating display of skills, look for Andre Ward to stop a game Edwin Rodriguez in the 9th round, while launching his hunt for deadlier game.