Roc Nation Sports/Tom Hogan - Hoganphotos
ANDRE WARD explained why he stepped up from super-middleweight. “It was the right time to move to light heavyweight. It was a combination of not having the right guys to fight or guys that didn’t want to fight me. I want to be great. These are the types of moves you have to make. I’m a student of the sport and when I study the sport, this is what greats have always done. They move up. The great ones find a way to get it done and I want to be in that conversation,” he said.
Of Saturday’s opponent, Sullivan Barrera he noted, “Barrera is a big body. He’s confident. Seems to be a good puncher. We did not pick him because he’s a soft touch. We picked him because he was going to get me ready and show me what this weight class is all about. If you look at my career, there’s a place for tune-ups which I haven’t had a lot of. You want to fight the best and if you aren’t fighting the best, you want to fight the number one contender. That’s what we’re doing.
“Barrera has never fought a guy like me before, so they can talk a good game. They can dominate the headlines leading up to the fight. They can say all the slick stuff they want to say. We just want to dominate the headlines Sunday morning after the fight is over. That’s what I’m focused on.”
He is adamant that he hasn’t lost his prime years through his recent inactivity. “I think I am evolving into an efficient fighter. I’m moving when I have to move. I think that’s the beauty of any athlete who doesn’t abuse his body and really takes his craft seriously. I’ve seen some articles claiming I missed my prime. It’s crazy to me. I feel that I am as good as I have ever been. I’ve been in a boxing gym without much of a break for the past 20 years. My brain thanked me for the last two years. My body thanked me. It might give me another two years in my career,” he said.
Russia’s feared Sergey Kovalev is looming on the horizon for him. “I have to just be me. Who I am is enough. I don’t have to show up for Kovalev in the crowd on Saturday night. We just have to implement the game plan. I think that’s going to send the message it’s supposed to send and if it doesn’t, then he’ll [Kovalev] get the message when we fight,” Ward added. “If I don’t win this fight, there’s nothing down the road. If I don’t win this fight, I don’t deserve to fight for the title. That’s the reality of my situation.