"I'm ahead of schedule and I am pleased and every day that I go to physical therapy, man, I feel good because I'm getting close to where I want to be and I know and believe that when I get back, I'm going to be better physically than what I was before I left...I just want to let the fans know that I'm working hard and when I tell you I'm going to come back better than ever, I mean it, and my hope is to have two fights this year. That's what I'm focusing on and when we get a little bit more light at the end of the tunnel where we can get a date, I'm going to let the fans know and we coming back strong," stated undisputed super middleweight king Andre Ward, who spoke more about his recovery after shoulder surgery, his expected return, and much more. Check it out!
PC: Hey my man, I have been getting the question a lot, so I have to ask, how is rehab going? How is the shoulder and how do you feel overall?
AW: I feel great, I feel great. I'm ahead of schedule. I'm really ahead of schedule. There are certain markers that I really gotta respect and adhere to coming off of surgery. You know, 6 weeks before I can do this, 8 weeks before I can do this, and really we are kind of pushing those limits, but I'm ahead of schedule and I am pleased and every day that I go to physical therapy, man, I feel good because I'm getting close to where I want to be and I know and believe that when I get back, I'm going to be better physically than what I was before I left.
PC: And this was a difficult process for you, because the first diagnosis was that no surgery was required, and to hear that you needed surgery and would be out for a while had to be a disappointment for you.
AW: It was very disappointing, man. I had a tough time right after that, probably a month or so after hearing the news and right before surgery, just thinking about how I was on the verge of a really good fight, a big fight, against Pavlik. I was just excited about it. It was on the heels of coming off of the Chad Dawson fight and just staying more busy and trying to get 3 or 4 fights in a year. Just all of the different variables that were involved that I was trying to accomplish, and then getting the news like that was a really big blow. But in my career, man, these things happen for a reason. I don't feel like at the end of the day, these situations are gonna make me better than what I was mentally because to get held back from doing something that you want to do and you can't do it does something to you, man. The fire is burning internally, and also physically, man, I'm just trying to turn my body and take my body to another level. So when I get the green light with my arm, it's not like I gotta get in shape. I'm already in shape. I just gotta get sharp and get into a training camp. So now that I'm on the other side of it, I'm just excited because I know that I'm going to come back and feel a lot stronger and I think everybody is going to see that.
PC: Unfortunately Kelly Pavlik has since retired from the sport and you have options, but I know you are a very cerebral dude and you plan your moves out. Does his retirement hinder your plans and your goals for this year in any way, shape, or form?
AW: I mean, at the end of the day, my plans are not predicated on what Kelly Pavlik does or what this person does or doesn't do. I seen some reports to where people are saying stuff like, if I don't get the Kelly Pavlik fight, it's a major blow to my career and stuff like that, and that's just not accurate. People have to look at the body of work, man, that we put in the last 2 ½ to 3 years. It's not like I'm at a point where I haven't fought anybody. I have fought the best fighters in my division and been fortunate to really clean out a division. And then fight the light heavyweight champion and beat him and beat him in spectacular fashion, so we don't have to chase Kelly or anything like that. Another thing that's kind of out there that people are saying is there is nobody out there to fight and there is nobody in my division. Well, I can't allow myself to be penalized for that because I already beat those guys. Now if there is just a weak division, that's one thing, but I can't allow myself to be penalized for us fighting and beating the guys that we beat, so with that being said, there is always somebody out there, whether it was Kelly Pavlik or someone else, or someone at 75. Whoever it is, there is always somebody out there and when we get the green light and get a fight date, we gonna find the right opponent.
PC: You are right; the consensus is that you cleared the division out, but as you said, there are always challenges. My question to you is, do you see yourself going up to challenge guys at higher weight classes for those challenges or are you willing to go the Bernard Hopkins route and make 20 or so defenses at 168 pounds like Hopkins did at 160?
AW: Well, I don't really want to do the Bernard Hopkins route. I'm going to be 28 this week and my body I'm still making the weight I don't want to say easy, but I'm making the weight comfortably. But from a personal standpoint, all of the fighters that I grew up watching moved up in weight and they became champions in other divisions, and that is something that I want to do. It's a personal goal of mine and it's a great challenge that won't be easy, but it's something I see in the near future. How soon? I don't know, but it's definitely something that I want to do.
PC: This year has been riddled with injuries, and in major fights that a lot of people were looking forward to. Coming off of one of the better years the sport has seen in quite some time, do you think boxing can overcome these injuries and get this thing back rolling like it was in 2012, being that most of the fights were not cancelled but rescheduled?
AW: You know, I think sometimes we overreact to stuff like that. It's disappointing, and it first started with my situation. And as a fight fan, there are fights that I wanted to see that fell out or postponed, and it is disappointing, but I don't think it hurts the sport as a whole or anything like that. It's just part of the game; the ups and downs in the game naturally. We ride this out and then we will have another string of fights that are great fights and then, I don't wanna say get the buzz back, because I don't feel like we lost any buzz, but people won't even be talking about these injuries once we get a few fights strung together and guys get healthy and stuff like that. So I don't look at like it's a big deal; it's just part of the game.
PC: When we spoke in Vegas, you said you watch fights by any means. Whether it's amateur and pro, you are a true fighter and true fight fan. When you are looking at your fight calendar, what are the types of things that you look for to circle certain fights on your calendar; matchups, styles, or pre-fight buzz?
AW: Well, I like to see as a fan, I like to see every kind of fight. I love to see a war just like anybody else. I love to see pretty much the whole gambit, but what I fall in love with is guys who have the ability to fight another guy who is a top level fighter and make it look easy; masters of the sport. I think sometimes, when you say masters or a guy who is not technically sound, but a guy who really knows how to go about their craft, people misread that and they give people like that a tag, even myself, like technical or a pretty boxer. If you look at guys that mastered this, like Bernard or Floyd, a lot of people give Floyd credit for his defense, but nobodies hitting the guys that he's fighting. You know what I'm saying? But people just put these tags on people because maybe they don't know how to interpret what's going on. Floyd is doing a lot of hitting in there. Floyd is very physical and Floyd is physically strong. Those are the intangibles and the things that you can't really put your finger on unless you are in the ring with Floyd or you know what you are looking at. So those are the type of guys that I really kind of fall in love with; a guy that just knows how to dismantle another fighter and make it look easy even though it's not. But as a fight fan, I love to see any kind of fight, whether it's an amateur fight, a dude having his first fight, or Friday Night Fights all the way up to a major pay-per-view fight;it really doesn't matter to me. I just really love the sport.
PC: Your body of work in the last 2 years or so has been amazing. I know you were out in Houston for the All Star weekend. What is the reception like for you in the public eye now? Obviously in California, you are always received well, but just in general, what is the public perception like for you when you are in public functions now?
AW: Boxing is probably one of the hardest sports, if not the hardest sport, to get recognized and to really get a fan base outside of your hometown or your home state because at the highest level, you probably fight 3 to 4 times a year and that's all the fight fans and sports fans in general get to see of you. Basketball players are night in and night out, football players have a long season, tennis all of these other sports, you name it, these guys get seen several times throughout the year, so people become more familiar to them. It takes time to build a fan base like Manny Pacquiao or even Floyd Mayweather. If you look at Floyd's rise, it took a long time. Floyd fought in many championship fights where not many people were in the stands. But when it comes to myself, I just know that with every fight and every victory, not only my personal fan base at home grows, but nationally, and it's just amazing to see, man. And you know, I just want to keep it going and not just fight, but put on great fights for people, and entertaining fights, and fights that people want to see.
PC: It is amazing when I see people shouting you out on Twitter from Ireland and all of these countries.
AW: (Laughing) That's what's amazing; it's not just nationally, but worldwide, and that's what blows me away.
PC: You deserve it all. You are a great ambassador of the sport and I wish you the best in your recovery. I appreciate the love you have been showing me on Twitter. Is there anything you want to add before I let you go my man?
AW: I just want to let the fans know that I'm working hard and when I tell you I'm going to come back better than ever, I mean it, and my hope is to have two fights this year. That's what I'm focusing on and when we get a little bit more light at the end of the tunnel where we can get a date, I'm going to let the fans know and we coming back strong. I appreciate FightHype because they always hold me down.
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]