Ward Talks Sparring With Diaz Brothers
In addition to their world-class jiu-jitsu and love for profanity, the Diaz brothers are known as some of the best boxers in the sport of mixed-martial-arts. While they can box with the best in the cage, Nick and Nate Diaz have sparred with one of the best boxers in the world — and Andre Ward says they can hold their own.
Ward defeated Sergey Kovalev on Saturday to remain undefeated and capture the Russian’s light-heavyweight titles, along with a potential spot atop the pound-for-pound list.
Ahead of the contest, Ward (31-0) discussed the comparisons between boxing and MMA before paying respect to the Stockton bad boys.
"I really don’t see why it has to be a competition," Ward told TMZ about the relationship between the two combat sports. "There’s room for both sports. People have written boxing off for so many years, and boxing is not going anywhere. It’s just not. MMA is extremely successful — they’re doing what they have to do. The fanbase can be mixed at times but it is really two separate fanbases. There’s room for everybody.
"I’m a casual MMA fan. Nick and Nate Diaz — those are guys that I’ve sparred with, those are my homies…Gilbert Melendez [as well]. I respect these guys. I’ve never looked at it like it was a competition thing, I honestly don’t know why it’s such a debate on why it’s one or the other when you can have both."
"Both of those guys are left-handed. Anytime we fight a left-handed [opponent], we have those guys in camp. When I first started working with both of them, probably five or six years ago, I was surprised at how polished and skillful they were. They know how to fight, and they can fight. Those boys know what they’re doing. They’ve got a great boxing coach, a guy named Richard [Perez] from Stockton, and they can throw their hands, man, trust me. They can throw their hands."
As for when the Diaz brothers will be throwing hands in the Octagon again, they each remain a bit of a mystery. On the back of his two 2016 blockbusters with Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz is angling for a rubber match with the sport’s biggest star. Nick Diaz, fresh off a suspension for marijuana use, has been rumored to be seeking out his next fight in the UFC.