Photo by Julio Sanchez/RBRBoxing

Photos by Julio Sanchez/RBRBoxing

I think it is lame that most American fans and media hate Andre Ward.

I’ve heard all the reasons why, but I’m just not buying them. There seems to be something more sinister to the complaints about his smug attitude, the way he fights and the stretch of inactivity as legitimate gripes against him.

They even hold him responsible for the controversial win over former Light Heavyweight champion, Sergey Kovalev, as if he filled out the judges’ scorecards and stole the belts. It just feels like people are concocting unjustifiable reasons to dislike him.

Ward carries himself with a certain confidence, I’ll admit, but it doesn’t seem like a reason to dislike him–unless you’re comparing yourself to him.

It’s not even remotely the same as the despised, over-the-top antics of Floyd Mayweather. Ward’s confidence is subtle and measured like something you would ascribe to a monarch. However, if you look at his accomplishments, it begs to ask; why shouldn’t he be confident?

Ward hasn’t lost a fight since he was 12 years old. He’s the last American male to win gold at the Olympics. He single-handedly conquered the Super Middleweight division by winning Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic. He moved up a weight class and continued that success, winning the unified Light Heavyweight championship title, becoming a two-weight unified champion.

It seems that when professional fighters who are not as accomplished as Ward, like Tyson Fury and (even in MMA) Conor McGregor act overly confident, it isn’t met with the same exasperation–although they do have their detractors.

This feels like a situation where the word “uppity” is appropriate. Uppity is a word with a certain racial history, used to describe black fighters who have used their leverage to control their destiny. Historic examples of this are fighters like Jack Johnson, Muhammad Ali (before he was rendered silent by Parkinson’s) and even Sugar Ray Robinson.

Ward is not as bombastic as Johnson was. He’s not as outspoken as Ali was. He’s not the shrewd businessman that Robinson was. Ward is a fighter that is deeply invested in control over his branding and is meticulously concerned about how he’s represented.

We’re talking about a fighter who was willing to take damn-near two years off to ensure he was getting proper compensation and representation by his handlers.

It was during the legal battle with his former promoter, Dan Goossen, when the resentment seemingly began. Ward’s career was sidetracked by this litigation–in addition to a hand injury–which was a push for more favorable terms and compensation for his fights.

It has always been the trend that any time professional athletes of color use the leverage they have in an effort to control their careers, it is met with stark disdain.

We saw it with Floyd Mayweather after he broke from Top Rank in order to co-promote himself with Golden Boy. We saw fans turn on future hall of famer, Miguel Cotto when after years upon years of taking the short end of the stick in boxing, he became intent on the most profitable decisions as the sun sets on his career.

We’ve seen this outside of boxing with stars like LeBron James and more recently, Kevin Durant, when they took destiny into their own hands in the NBA.

God forbid race is brought into this analysis, but these weak-ass reasons for disliking Ward don’t make sense when you have mediocre to above average white fighters like Fury and Kovalev, respectively, who have accomplished less, but acted out considerably more than the Oakland-native, receiving little-to-no backlash.

Kovalev only has three broadly notable fighters on his resume in Bernard Hopkins, Nathan Cleverly and Jean Pascal. His trash talk is wack, he does the most on social media and he has done and said some outright racist things in the not-so-distant past.

He can punch like a Mack truck, so he gets all the passes. He’s not even American, yet American fans cape for him and despise Ward. Did I mention he’s on the Trump-train?

So maybe someone can tell me what it is, but just being smug doesn’t cut it for me. Many confident fighters are lauded for the subtle arrogance, but not Andre Ward.

Ward is a true American hero. His backstory is one that truly embraces and exemplifies the American dream. It’s just unfortunate that America doesn’t embrace him as one of our sons.

Maybe after he’s finished, he’ll get the approval he deserves now, but it’ll be phony, like how they despised Robinson or Ali until they hung up the gloves.

  

Staff Writer for Round By Round Boxing, husband, soon-to-be father, boxing fan, gamer, moviegoer, extroverted-introvert, whiskey drinker, ex-white-collar boxer, Falcons fan & comic nerd. Oh, I like to talk about race.

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