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Ward active, but only as commentator

Andre Ward and his wife attend the 2014 ESPY Awards.
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Seeing as Andre Ward has had only one fight in the past two years, his moonlighting as an analyst in HBO’s announcing line-up is becoming an increasing part of his boxing identity.

Ward, 30, is ranked No. 2 in the world pound-for-pound and wants to start making the big bucks, but he still hasn’t been lined up for a pay-per-view bout and is increasingly at odds with his promoter, Dan Goossen as a result of that and what he says is Goossen’s refusal to work with Ward’s other promoter, Antonio Leonard. Ward’s resolve to get out of his contract with Goossen has been rebuffed twice by California officials, and the contract reportedly runs through 2016

To make matters worse, Ward sued Goossen-Tutor in federal court Thursday, alleging that Goossen has been mishandling funds and notifications throughout their union.

Yet, Ward says he’s still amenable to acceptable fight terms if Goossen can come up with any. He’d like to face Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. or Gennady Golovkin and would prefer to remain a 168-pounder indefinitely.

I often predict that Ward will retire undefeated eventually, but it would be a shame if he’s already official.

Still, he has a lot of insights that have always translated well to television commentary, as had been evident on Bay Area TV long before he got the HBO gig as what now is a sort of back-up to Roy Jones Jr.

Both analysts were employed last Saturday as Jones joined Max Kellerman in Atlantic City for Sergey Kovalev’s light-heavyweight fight and Ward joined Jim Lampley in Las Vegas for the Brandon Rios-Diego Chaves welterweight bout in Las Vegas.

It was a good set-up for Ward, partly because the two-man crew meant more microphone time than he gets when Kellerman is on board as commentator in a three-man set-up, and partly because the bout ended in a disqualification of Chaves in the ninth round as he was leading on two judges’ scorecards.

When Chaves incurred a one-point deduction for holding in the third round, Ward was the first to suggest that referee Vik Drakulich (usually the least effectual referee in Las Vegas) was clamping down a bit prematurely. Ward and Lampley seemed to agree that there had been only one warning.

“Normally you look for two,” Lampley said.

“At least!” said Ward, who is known for holding a bit himself. He pointed out that clinching is not illegal, and he said the act that prompted the deduction “was a normal clinch.”

Later Ward also questioned a one-point deduction Rios incurred when some wrestling in a corner put Chaves on the mat. At the time of Chaves’ disqualification, however, Rios alleged Chaves had gouged his eyes, and Ward concurred Chaves had gone too far. Sure enough Rios was diagnosed subsequently with a scratched retina.

So this was a significant night for Ward the announcer.

He was better off being absent from the Kovalev fight.

But then, he’s a bit blasé where Kovalev is concerned, considering that some of us are more interested in seeing him fight Kovalev than anyone else.

Well, forget that, Ward recently told Ring-TV. “I know there’s been a lot of noise about [Sergey] Kovalev. That’s one fight. That’s not even a pay per view fight. That’s a premium network television fight. When I go there and we beat Kovalev, they’re going to say he’s just a puncher and he’s one-dimensional. Where do I go from there? I’m stuck at the light heavyweight division.”

Now, that’s the sort of passion he’s too often lacking on HBO.

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