"The main thing for me is not to focus on the lawsuit. The main thing for me is to focus on letting everybody know that I'm ready and I'm available to fight. I'm not expecting to be on the shelf. I don't feel like I should be on the shelf and this situation should have no bearings on my return...I mean, this is boxing and anything can happen. So anything is possible, but as far as my mindset and my team, I'm ready to go. So hopefully in the next couple of weeks, we can get a date and from there, get an opponent and start working on my next fight...I'm at the stage of my career where I'm still paying my dues, but I paid my dues to a point where, you know, I'm looking to make the best fights for my career," stated undefeated super middleweight king Andre Ward, who is already looking forward to making his return to the ring in early 2014. You don't want to miss what he had to say about his future plans, his critics, and much more. Check it out!
BT: Dre, I'm sure you can't say too much right now, but can you talk a little bit about the lawsuit your team filed against Dan Goossen?
AW: Well, the court papers and everything are already out. At the moment, it's not really something that I want to get into because it's going to be a process and it's going to unfold over time, so the main thing for me is not to focus on the lawsuit. The main thing for me is to focus on letting everybody know that I'm ready and I'm available to fight. I'm not expecting to be on the shelf. I don't feel like I should be on the shelf and this situation should have no bearings on my return.
BT: Do you think it possibly could have an impact on your return?
AW: I mean, this is boxing and anything can happen. So anything is possible, but as far as my mindset and my team, I'm ready to go. So hopefully in the next couple of weeks, we can get a date and from there, get an opponent and start working on my next fight.
BT: How soon are you talking about fighting again?
AW: I would like to come back in March or April. That's when I would like to come back, but I mean, we're going to start talking about it probably around the first of the year and putting our heads together and figuring out what's next.
BT: When you and your team are looking at opponents, how difficult is it to come to an agreement on who you want to fight versus who the network may want you to fight? How does that process work?
AW: Well, for the most part, it's a team effort. There are some times when you want to go a certain direction and maybe the network wants to go another direction, but you hope that's not the case. Normally you get several options. You present some names, the network will present some names, and then everybody will come to an agreement. That's how it's supposed to work and that's how it's always worked for my career. I can't speak for anybody else. But I'm at the stage of my career where I'm still paying my dues, but I paid my dues to a point where, you know, I'm looking to make the best fights for my career from a financial standpoint, but then also from a legacy standpoint. There's certain guys you can fight and beat and they won't give you credit, but then there's other guys that you fight and beat and they still may not give you credit, but it was worth the risk; it was worth fighting that guy because of everything that went into that fight from a financial standpoint, a legacy standpoint, and that's what we look at. Sometimes in this sport, you get knocked or you get things said about you because you want to put your business hat on, but when you don't have your business hat on and you just focus on the fighting and your business isn't handled right, then they say you should've been focused on your business. Then when you focus on your business too much, then they want to say you need to just focus on the fighting. So it's a fine line, man, and at this stage, I've paid my dues to the point where I can sit back and make the right decisions for my career.
BT: Do you think that the Super Six tournament was kind of a gift and curse for you? I mean, on one hand, you fought some of the biggest names in your division back to back to back; on the other hand, because you fought all of those big names during that 2-plus years, you practically wiped out the division as opposed to spreading some of those big fights out over a longer timeframe.
AW: No, I don't look at it like that, and I hear people say that a lot. I look at it like it was a tremendous blessing. It was a tremendous blessing for a lot of reasons. One of them was the fact that I had to grow up fast in the Super Six because I fought the best of the best. I got a tough draw and had to fight the best fighter in that tournament in the beginning, which was Mikkel Kessler, and over the next 2 1/2 or 3 years, however long it was, I grew up in the sport of boxing. I learned to not only win a championship, but to defend a championship, and I fought the best in the world, which is a great experience all the way around. I think it helped my career. The thing is this, people always say that you don't have anybody to fight. There's people out there to fight. My team's job is to go find those individuals. There's still 2 or 3 fights at 68 for me; big, big fights.
And the thing is this, people gotta understand that there's always movement in the sport of boxing, you know, somebody coming up from 60. You got somebody that emerges in the 68-pound division, and then you got the 75-pound division, if somebody comes down, or whatever the case may be. But I'm not going to let people, based on what they say, rush me to 75. I'm not a 175-pounder right now. When we go to 175, we're going to be ready for 175; not skill-wise, but physically. My body's going to be ready, and right now, I'm not a 175-pounder. It's a no-win situation because if we go to 175 right now and we beat the guys that they think are the guys at that weight class, then they're going to say, "Aw, they were one-dimensional and they were just punchers." Or, "You were ducking Golovkin and that's why you went to 175." If we stay at 168, then they're going to say we're ducking the guys at 175. These are some of the same people that have been critics from the beginning, so I think it's best that they just let us keep making the decisions for my career and, you know, we know what we need to do.
BT: Why do you think certain people in the media are so critical about some of the decisions you might make for your career, yet when others make the exact same decision, they seem to be okay with that? For example, if Golovkin says he's staying at 160, that's okay, but if you say you're staying at 168, critics start demanding that you move up to 175. Do some of those individuals have some sort of personal beef with you?
AW: I think you answered the question with a question. It's double standards and personal beefs that guys may have with certain guys. This stuff has been going on long before I became a pro fighter and it's going to continue longer after I'm gone. I mean, the Golovkin situation, and this has nothing to do with him personally, but you look at a situation like that where him and his team put three weight classes on notice. They said they'll fight anybody from 160 to 175. He doesn't really have anybody at 160 and nobody's trying to put pressure on him to come up to 68 and fight me or go to 75 and fight any of those guys up at that weight class. But all of sudden, there's a lot of talk about me and what I have to do; I have to go up to 175. You see these things and you understand, Ben. One thing I'm not going to do is try to answer my critics or address my critics every time I do an interview, man. I'm just not going to do it. There's too many other good things going on in my career. There's too many other good things being written than to focus on maybe a double standard over here or something negative written over there because I don't read the stuff. I get wind of it one way or the other, but I'm choosing to focus on the positive and focus on the good things that are written and the positive things that are said and just continue to make right decisions for my career. Because at the end of the day, this is my career, and when my career is over, you know, promoters are gonna still be promoting, managers are gonna still be managing, and writers are gonna still be writing, regardless of what decisions I've made. At the end of the day, I have one career and I'm gonna make the best of this one career that I have.
BT: After coming up through the amateurs and then going on to win an Olympic gold medal, did you ever think that once you got to this point in your career, you would still be dealing with the naysayers and the critics like this?
AW: I mean, I didn't know how things were going to be. At the end of the day, Ben, it's like, you know, it's an old saying, man, that if you don't want criticism, don't be nothing, don't say nothing, don't do nothing. And that's what it boils down to. When you're making a splash in the sport and you voice your opinion on certain things and you've got no problems standing up for yourself and, in some cases, being a leader, you're going to get criticism and things are going to be said and people are going to take shots, whether they have all the facts or not, whether they know you personally or not, whether they've gotten one side of the story and not the other side, it's part of it. And like I said, this has been going on long before I started boxing. This isn't anything new. Other champions had to go through this and still go through it. I mean, Floyd Mayweather's probably just now collectively getting his just due and he's 45 and 0. This has been going on for a long time, but he's just now where everybody is saying, "Okay, he's the guy," after all these years. So when you see stuff like that, you put it in its proper perspective and you got the opportunity to let the negative things that are said either make you bitter and make you start disliking individuals and disliking the sport, or you can take it in stride and say, "I understand where they're coming from," and certain things that are said, I'm going to use it to let it motivate me because that's partially what it's there for. But I'ma also focus on the good things that are said. There's a lot of positive things that are being said and I get a lot of positive feedback. Contrary to what's written, I have a tremendous fan base, Ben; not just in the Bay Area, but all over the world, and those are just the things that I try to stay focused on, man. I'm not going to give in to much of the negative press and the this and that; I'm not going to stay focused on that stuff.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2 OF THIS IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW WITH UNDEFEATED SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT KING ANDRE WARD
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