For Ward, Chasing Kovalev Means Earning Legend

Andre Ward has made his mark as one of today’s best boxers, but on Saturday he’s chasing something greater. When he takes on light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev on Nov. 19, Ward will attempt to cement his name in the pantheon of boxing legends.

Ahead of the highly-anticipated matchup marketed at "Pound for Pound", Ward spoke about the three reasons he had for taking on Kovalev. Moving up in weight was a necessity for the former super-middleweight, but he has chased a fight with Kovalev more importantly to establish his own legacy.

“It was threefold,” Ward said. “It was the weight – but I could have held off for a couple more fights [at 168] – it was legacy driven, and it was tough to get guys in the ring, it was so tough."

The biggest knock on Ward, 32, over the years has been his inactivity, as he spent a lot of time on the shelf due to a legal battle with his former trainer Dan Goossen. The super-middleweight king, he grew frustrated with the lead boxing organizations stripping him of his belts without him losing them in the ring.

“I had a situation with my [super-middleweight] belts where they were mysteriously getting stripped,” Ward said. “I didn’t get a heads up about this, I didn’t do anything wrong, and it’s like, ‘Yeah, don’t worry about that.’ But I was like, ‘But he just took my belt!’ It happened like two or three times. The WBC took it, gave it back, and then took it again. I was like, ‘Okay, I’m done’.”

Ultimately, issues of stripping belts and out-of-the-ring squabbles are arbitrary compared to a fighter’s legacy. That is the main reason for this weekend’s fight, both for the Russian champion and for Ward. The American boxer believes that seeking challenges in a higher weight class is what makes a fighter great, pointing to a handful of history’s most revered pugilists.

“It was a combination of things but legacy had a lot to do with it because you look at the all-time greats, they all went to other weight classes, they all went up,” said Ward. “The Ray Robinsons, the Ray Leonards, Ricky Hatton, Mike McCallum, go down the list, Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones. They went up and took on those bigger challenges.”

Ward’s talents have been proven time and time again throughout his 30-0 professional career. But every all-time great has that one fight that propels them into true greatness. For Andre Ward, that fight takes place tomorrow.

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