Boxing’s pound-for-pound best, Andre Ward, has shocked fans and his peers by announcing his retirement from boxing.
The unified light heavyweight champ is undefeated and just 33 years old, so its surprising he’d walk away at the peak of his career.
“I want to be clear — I am leaving because my body can no longer put up with the rigors of the sport and therefore my desire to fight is no longer there,” Ward said in a statement. “If I cannot give my family, my team, and the fans everything that I have, then I should no longer be fighting.”
Ward appeared on ESPN First Take on Thursday (Sept. 21) where he elaborated further on his decision.
“People see what I do fight night,” he said. “They see under the lights, but they don’t see the toil, they don’t see the grind, they don’t see just the pain, the physical pain that you go through, not just in the fights, but to prepare and to get ready for those battles.”
“I felt the physicality of the sport — not just in-the-ring stuff, but the training and the preparation — start to take its toll on me for the last two or three years, and I bit down and continued to push through. And at this point, it’s time, and I know it’s time,” Ward added.
Ward ends his career with back-to-back wins against former unified champ Sergey Kovalev — including a controversial unanimous decision win last November to take three of Kovalev’s world title belts, followed by an eighth-round knockout victory in the rematch in June.