Andre Ward's legendary boxing career has suddenly came to a shocking end.
Ward is one of the greatest boxers the sport has ever seen, as the 33-year-old former Olympic Gold Medalist has never been defeated in his career throughout 32 professional bouts. 16 of those victories have come by way of knockout. He is a former unified WBA (Undisputed), IBF, and WBO light heavyweight champion in addition to having held the unified WBA (Super), WBC, Ring, and lineal super middleweight titles.
Perhaps at the top of Ward's accomplishments was being the first man to defeat Sergey Kovalev inside the ring, defeating the Russian via unanimous decision in November of 2016 before knocking Kovalev out in the eight round in their rematch this past June.
Ward was then expected to face Vyacheslav Shabranskyy next to defend his title in New York, but earlier today (Thurs. September 21, 2017) Ward shockingly announced his retirement from the sport of boxing (quotes via ESPN):
"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," the statement said.
"If I cannot give my family, my team, and the fans everything that I have, then I should no longer be fighting."
"People see what I do fight night. 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."
HBO also made an announcement on Ward's decision to walk away from the squared circle:
"Andre Ward ends his boxing career as he only knew how to live it -- as a champion at the top," says Peter Nelson, Executive Vice President, HBO Sports.
"To watch Ward was to marvel at constant mastery of craft in the ring, to say nothing of his being the consummate role model outside it. The Hall of Fame will be lucky to have him.
"We wish Andre and his family much success and happiness as he explores new opportunities, including with our own HBO family as one of the expert analysts on our broadcast team.
"It was a privilege for HBO to serve as the television platform for many of his landmark achievements in the sport he loves."
What are your thoughts on Ward announcing his retirement from boxing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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