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ANDRE WARD: "FROCH HAS TWO OPTIONS...MY MOTIVATION IS NOT TO BEAT HIM, BUT TO STOP HIM"

By Ben Thompson | January 03, 2014
ANDRE WARD:

"Froch has two options. Froch either has to go back to Groves and right that wrong, or he's gotta come see me or he's gonna lose credibility. See, when you build that tough guy, that spartan, unbeatable, granite chin type of image, you gotta uphold that image, and right now, he's in a pickle. He's in a catch-22, and this is not me saying it; these are his fans saying it, the UK fans. He's either gotta go back to Groves and right that wrong, or he's gotta come avenge the loss to me, like he keeps saying he wants to, or he just needs to quit bringing my name up in these interviews...we don't like each other, he keeps talking, and now my motivation is not to beat him, but to stop him," stated undefeated super middleweight king Andre Ward, who had a lot to say about Carl Froch, George Groves, and the possibility of fighting both men. You don't want to miss what else he had to say in this exclusive in-depth interview. Check it out!

BT: Considering that you're not signed with Golden Boy Promotions or Top Rank, you're in a unique position in that you don't have to worry about the cold war that's going on between the two promotional companies. That being said, you do fight on HBO whereas some guys fight on Showtime. Does that make it difficult for you to go after certain fights or is it not really an issue?

AW: I mean, the way it stands right now, I don't really see anybody on the other side that's a big fight for me, so I think for me, fortunately, what's going on with the networks hasn't affected me and I'm happy about that. A lot of the guys that I'm fighting, they're fighting on HBO or they're willing to fight on HBO, so for me, in my weight class, I don't think it's affected me.

BT: Let's talk about your weight class for a minute. When you look at the lay of the land in the super middleweight division, obviously you're at the top of the mountain, so everybody should be looking to knock you off that spot. Knowing that, when you see some of the other champions and top contenders out there, is there anyone that you think should be calling you out?

AW: I don't know about who should be calling me out. At the end of the day, that's something that those guys gotta figure out. But there's always movement. I mean, you look at a situation like with Froch and Groves. People knew Groves was on his way up, but he made a name for himself in one night, and now I'm getting fans saying that Groves deserves a shot more than Carl Froch. That happened in one night, and that's what I'm saying; the landscape is always changing. It can change in one night when one guy puts on a vintage performance, even thought that fight didn't get a chance to finish and we never will know what would've happened if he would've had a proper shot to weather that storm and get through it. But those are the types of things I'm talking about. It's several good fights right now that's on the table for me and, like I said, in the next couple weeks, we're going to sit down and work it out.

A guy that people said that I called out after the fight, which I didn't – if you go back and look at my HBO post-fight interview, I didn't call anybody out – but the guy that keeps bringing my name up is Froch. Really with Froch, Froch has two options. Froch either has to go back to Groves and right that wrong, or he's gotta come see me or he's gonna lose credibility. See, when you build that tough guy, that spartan, unbeatable, granite chin type of image, you gotta uphold that image, and right now, he's in a pickle. He's in a catch-22, and this is not me saying it; these are his fans saying it, the UK fans. He's either gotta go back to Groves and right that wrong, or he's gotta come avenge the loss to me, like he keeps saying he wants to, or he just needs to quit bringing my name up in these interviews because I don't really think he wants to fight me. I think he's using my name for publicity and just bringing it up because he knows that's what people want to hear. But Froch has two options and that's what he needs to do.

BT: Are you surprised that Froch hasn't tried to come to the table to make that rematch with you yet?

AW: Um, no, I'm not surprised. I mean, you gotta remember, when he fought Kessler, I was in his country and I was open to going to the UK. I told his promoter, "Hey man, pick up the phone; let's see what can be done," but the phone was never picked up, no phone calls were ever made, and really, going over to the UK is off the table right now, especially after what happened to Groves. Again, Carl Froch doesn't have but two options. Either he has to go back to Groves, which I don't think he wants to do, or he has to come to the table with me.

BT: Wow! At one point, you said you were willing to discuss the possibility of fighting Froch in the U.K. Are you now saying that option is totally off the table for now?

AW: I care about my legacy. It's not just about money, you know what I'm saying. Money comes and goes, but my legacy is something that's going to be here forever. If I lose a fight, I lose a fight, but Ben, I don't ever want to lose a fight that I didn't lose and be in a situation like Groves. I mean, if you even look at the scorecards in the Groves fight, this kid was way up and 2 out of the 3 judges only had him up by a round or two. What those judges don't realize is that, if they don't get it right...I know there's a human factor involved. You got humans; you got people judging. People make mistakes, and I'm not saying anything was done intentionally, but when you have a situation where it's not right, the scorecards or the referee is not right, or something like that happens, it affects a fighter more than any other athlete. If a ref makes a bad call in a basketball game, man, I got a guaranteed contract; I'm disappointed, I'm mad we lost the game, but I can move on to the next city and go score 40 and we can forget about last night. Nothing changes, but for a fighter, everything changes. One loss, one setback changes a lot. It changes the payscale, it changes the leverage that you had; it changes a lot, so that situation is off the table.

BT: What did you think about Froch's performance against Groves? Has he improved, has he regressed, or did he look like the same fighter that you already beat?

AW: Man, I think it's the same guy and I think it's a guy that's aging. Froch is 35 or 36 years old and I don't care how great a shape you get in; you're in the best shape that a 35-year-old man can be in. That's just a reality, and I think Froch ran into a guy that he had sparred with, and I guess he felt like he had some success against, and he thought that he was going to basically punk George Groves, and Groves wasn't having it. Everything that Groves said he was going to do, he did, and I think that's the thing with Carl Froch. When he can't intimidate you, when the stuff he says or the way he acts doesn't intimidate you, he doesn't know how to respond. He doesn't know how to deal with that, and that's what you saw in that fight. To Froch's credit, even at 35 or 36 years old, he's performing at a high level. He is a tough fighter, man; he is a good fighter. You can't take anything away from him, but I think he's hit his peak. This is the best Carl Froch that you're going to see. But again, to his credit, this Carl Froch will beat a lot of guys, and maybe he would've beat Groves, but I mean, the type of performance that Groves put on, you could say he deserves a shot more than Froch.

BT: Were you surprised with that performance by Groves and the success he had against Froch or did you expect the fight to play out like that?

AW: I didn't really have an opinion either way because I didn't know much about Groves. I'd only seen him a few rounds when I was in the UK for Froch-Kessler 2 and I didn't get a chance to really sit down and watch him, but I knew he was a big kid, he looked to be strong, and just based on the promotion of their fight and the things that were said, he didn't seem to be intimidated. He was saying all the right things, and then when you see him back it up in the first round, you know that he's the real deal. He went from fighting C level, B level guys to fighting one of the best in the world and he performed at a high level. And Froch was coming on, but in any championship fight, you gotta weather a storm at some point, and it's unfortunate that we'll never know if he would've weathered that storm and was able to get a second wind and close the show. But that's how it ended; it was unfortunate. I'm not saying nothing intentional happened, but it's just unfortunate. I think his fans, all those fans in that arena let Carl Froch know how they felt about it. It's just the arrogance and all that stuff; I just think the fans are kind of getting fed up with it.

BT: Do you think that fight was stopped too early?

AW: I think if I had to choose a fight being stopped too early or being stopped too late, I'ma take a fight being stopped too early every single time. With that being said, I watched it and I think it was stopped too soon. I don't think the referee did anything intentional; I just think he might've overreacted in that moment. Groves got hit with a couple good shots and they had an awkward moment when he got spun around or the ref kind of had him in a headlock; something happened where kind of his body language was off. I know there's a ref in there and he's trying to do the best job that he can, but at the same time, you gotta factor in the atmosphere, you gotta factor in the magnitude of the event and everything that's at stake, and I just think they could've let George Groves fight a little bit longer. I think he deserved that shot; it's a championship fight.

BT: In Froch, you have a guy that you already beat convincingly and don't really need to prove anything against, and in Groves, you have someone brand new that you've never faced. Taking the business hat off and throwing money out the window, as a fighter, being as competitive as you are, would you prefer to fight someone that you already know you can beat or would you rather take on a new and unknown challenge?

AW: I like 'em both and I'll tell you why. I like Groves because he's kinda hot right now coming off of what he did. He's not as hot as he would've been if he would've won the fight outright, but he's hot right now, and the UK fans, moreso than anybody, they want him to get a shot at the title if he doesn't have a rematch with Froch. So that's something that I would be open to; I think he's earned that right. But then you look at Froch, if Froch would've stayed quiet and never would've started talking, I probably wouldn't have any motivation to fight him again. But because he went on the record and made the kind of excuses he made and talked as much as he talked in the past year and a half, there's still interest from the UK standpoint, but then also, fans in America say, "Man, can you just make this guy stop talking? Can you just shut this guy up?" There's still intrigue; people want to see this fight. Everybody may not want to see it, but there's a lot of people that do want to see it simply because we don't like each other, he keeps talking, and now my motivation is not to beat him, but to stop him. So with this situation that I'm in, either situation from a competitive standpoint, I would be up for.

BT: I know you don't go looking for knockouts, but do you actually challenge yourself; I mean, if you did fight Carl Froch again, would you kind of make it a personal challenge to yourself to try and stop him?

AW: Absolutely! Absolutely! And it'd probably be the first time I ever did that in my career. Absolutely!

BT: Dang! Well alright (laughing). Let me throw some other names out there. Sakio Bika and Anthony Dirrell just recently fought to a draw. Did you get a chance to see that fight yet?

AW: Nah, I didn't get a chance to see it. I was actually calling a fight in Atlantic City on HBO and I haven't had a chance to go back and watch it, but I heard a lot about it. I thought Ant was going to pull it out and possibly stop Bika down the stretch. I gotta go back and see it. I've heard some people say that they felt like Dirrell maybe got robbed, I've heard some people say it was close, so; I wish Anthony the best, man. I know fighting for your first world title, a draw, it's not as bad as a loss, but it ranks up there with a loss because there's no definite decision on what happened, so hopefully they can bring it back, man, and we can see who comes out on top.

BT: Is that odd to see guys fighting for a title that, essentially, is really yours?

AW: (Laughing) Yeah, it's unfortunate it had to go down like that, man, but, I mean, not in a bad way, but in a good way; I'm telling you, you grow up fast in this sport. You grow up fast and you deal with certain things and you don't take these kind of things personal. You just understand it's business. I could've stayed Champion Emeritus and I chose not to. I chose to walk away from the belt; that's a decision that I made and I gotta live with it. Maybe one day I'll get a chance to fight for the [W]BC belt again. It was great winning it, it was great defending it, and that situation is behind me right now and those guys are fighting for the belt. It's not something I'm happy about, but it's something I live with.

BE SURE TO CHECK BACK SOON FOR MUCH MORE FROM UNDEFEATED SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT KING ANDRE WARD



[ Follow Ben Thompson on Twitter @fighthype ]

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