After a controversial win against Sergey Kovalev last year, Ward returned to dominate Kovalev in a one-sided rematch. He silenced his critics, defended his light-heavyweight titles against the toughest man in the division, and proved beyond doubt that he is the pound-for-pound king and still at the top of his game. So it came as a shock when the 33-year-old suddenly announced his retirement on Thursday.
After 23 years in the sport, the undefeated light-heavyweight champ and Olympic gold medalist decided to hang up the gloves 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.”
Will his retirement “take,” so to speak? Boxing is full of “retired” fighters who will almost definitely return to the ring when they run out of money or when a fight too lucrative to turn down comes their way. (Cough cough Floyd Mayweather.)
Despite his successes in the ring, Ward’s fights never performed well at the box-office. Unlike other American Olympic gold medalists, like Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya, Ward failed to capture the imagination of the American public. Maybe it’s because of his subdued demeanor or his highly defensive style of boxing or his poor promotional skills. Whatever it was, his first fight against Kovalev only pulled in 165,000 pay-per-view buys and the second did even worse (130,000).
In Ward’s absence, the top pound-for-pound spot is up for grabs and the light-heavyweight division is now wide open. Who will take his place? Will he actually stay retired? Here are the odds.
Andre Ward Retirement Odds
Odds Ward remains retired from boxing: 1/4
Unlike other “retirements” we’ve seen in boxing, Ward actually appears ready to hang up the gloves for good. It’s rare to see an undefeated champion leave the sport while he’s still on top, but Ward is ready for his next chapter. After defeating Kovalev in the rematch, he doesn’t have anything left to prove. Also, unless he makes a giant leap to heavyweight, there aren’t many interesting (or lucrative) fights available to him.
Odds Adonis Stevenson unifies the light heavyweight division: 5/1
The IBF and WBO titles have been vacated, giving WBC and lineal champ Adonis Stevenson a chance to unify the division. With Ward gone, his chances have never been better. But he still has the likes of Kovalev and Badou Jack to contend with, and the last notable opponent Stevenson faced was Chad Dawson back in 2013.
Odds Sergey Kovalev reclaims at least one of his titles in 2018: 1/2
Kovalev recently cemented a fight against the little-known Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, scheduled for November 25th at Madison Square Garden. After that, he’ll probably want a chance to reclaim his WBA, IBF, and WBO titles. Without Ward, there’s little standing in the way of Kovalev and light-heavyweight supremacy.
Odds to be Ring Magazine’s next no. 1 pound-for-pound fighter
Vasyl Lomachenko: 2/1
Gennady Golovkin: 2/1
Guillermo Rigondeaux: 4/1
Terence Crawford: 7/1
Sergey Kovalev: 15/1
The mega-fight between Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux, slated for December 9th, should determine the new pound-for-pound no. 1. Lomachenko has been high on the list for some time, but he hasn’t defeated anyone notable enough to propel him to the top. If he manages to beat the undefeated Rigondeaux, that would make a very strong case for him.
If the judges had awarded Gennady Golovkin a win over Canelo Alvarez, he might already be The Ring’s top pound-for-pound fighter. But since he was handed a controversial draw, we may have to wait for the rematch until he’s given the credit he deserves.
Terence Crawford is a rising star in the sport, but until he makes to move to welterweight and takes on another world-class fighter, he doesn’t deserve to be the top pound-for-pound fighter.