"Yesterday, my manager reached out to Lou [DiBella] and came back to me with what I thought was fair, and I offered Edwin more money than he's ever made in the ring before, but they turned it down. I don't know what that means, so I gave my manager instructions to move on to the next. The month they kept pushing for was November when they wanted the Edwin fight, that's what HBO kept bringing up, and so we accepted it, but they [Team Rodriguez] turned it down as of yesterday," stated undisputed and undefeated super middleweight king Andre Ward, who gave us an update on the status of his next fight and much more. Check it out!
BT: Dre, everybody keeps asking me, "What's up with Ward? When's Dre coming back? Who is he fighting?" I know you've been in the gym and have been ready to go. There's been rumors about potential opponents, like Edwin Rodriguez, but we still haven't heard anything yet. So what's up? Give me the scoop.
AW: The Edwin Rodriguez situation, basically, that's the name that kept coming up in negotiations, and also, every article that I read from Edwin, he said that's the fight that he wanted. When HBO started putting pressure on Edwin to take the fight, shortly after that, he signed with Al Haymon. I hope that wasn't his attempt not to fight, but we continued to pursue the fight and that's what we've been doing for the past, I don't know, 2 or 3 weeks. Everything is done with HBO. The money's put up and everything is ready to go. Yesterday, my manager reached out to Lou [DiBella] and came back to me with what I thought was fair, and I offered Edwin more money than he's ever made in the ring before, but they turned it down. I don't know what that means, so I gave my manager instructions to move on to the next. The month they kept pushing for was November when they wanted the Edwin fight, that's what HBO kept bringing up, and so we accepted it, but they [Team Rodriguez] turned it down as of yesterday.
BT: Edwin signed with Haymon a week or so ago. Do you think his team knew then that they were already planning on going in a different direction, especially when you consider that all of Haymon's fighters are fighting on Showtime now?
AW: They seemed like they still wanted it. It's confusing to me because I read one thing from Edwin and his team about "wanting the fight" and "this is the fight we want", and the fight was just presented yesterday. I offered Edwin more money than he's ever made in the ring before, his biggest payday, and they turned it down.
BT: So what does that mean for you? Is it back to the drawing board as far as finding an opponent and a return date?
AW: Nah. The target month for me is November. That's the month that I've been given and that's what I'm looking at. I've been told November 16th and that's the date. The thing is, I've been ready. I've been training. I've been ready for months. It's not a situation where I'm not ready and the network is waiting on me. You know, these things had to flush themselves out, had to work themselves out, and so now that Rodriguez has turned the fight down and priced himself out, we just gotta move on to the next opponent. Who that is right now, we don't know, but that doesn't affect my date.
BT: So to sum it all up, Edwin Rodriguez said he wanted to fight you, it's the fight that HBO wanted for you, and it was the fight that you were ready to give them, but when all was said and done, the main guy that wanted the fight ended up turning it down.
AW: Exactly. Yeah, this is the fight that HBO wanted, and they wanted it not in September, like we originally planned on coming back, but they wanted it in November. We obliged HBO on both of those points; the pushing the date back, which was disappointing because I was ready for September after obviously being on the shelf with the shoulder issue, and then with the opponent. That's the fight that HBO kept pushing for and I think that after Edwin and his team met with HBO and they put pressure on him, shortly after that, he made the jump to go to Al Haymon. Like I said, I hope that's not an attempt not to fight, because based on everything I read, the kid keeps bringing my name up like he wants the fight and he wants the fight now. I think HBO called his bluff; we obliged HBO and now we have a situation where he's just asking for ridiculous money. He's priced himself way out with something that's not realistic, so, I mean, you tell me what that means.
BT: It probably means he's already sat down with his new adviser and mapped out his path to your old WBC title, which Sakio Bika is keeping warm for you, instead (laughing).
AW: You know, we understand the business of boxing. We're not ignorant to the things that go on and what's going on right now with the different disputes with the networks and certain promoters and managers, but behind the scenes, that's a fight that everyone at least said that they still wanted. Now we weren't so sure and I knew that when the rubber met the road and we made an offer, I knew that based on what they were asking for, it didn't look like they wanted the fight. If it's not a fight that you want or a fight that you're trying to have right now, that's what you should tell the public and the media. You shouldn't say you want the fight and then when the fight is offered, you price yourself out or turn it down. We made him a nice offer; it just wasn't what he asked for.
BT: So did HBO and your team already have some other opponents in mind besides Rodriguez or do you have to start that process all over again?
AW: I mean, again, we're not ignorant. Me, my team, HBO, people knew that this is a fight that possibly wasn't going to take place. It should take place from the standpoint of the right money being available and the date being available. Edwin said he couldn't fight in September, so they pushed it back to November; HBO made every attempt to make the fight, but in the back of your mind, you know and understand the business of boxing, so we're not surprised that they turned the fight down at this point. With that being said, there's other irons in the fire and it's not a process of having to start over. It's just a matter of getting the right guy and I think that's going to be as of next week.
[ Follow Ben Thompson on Twitter @fighthype ]