After undergoing the knife on Jan. 4 to repair a small tear in his right shoulder capsule, The Ring, WBA, WBC and super middleweight champ Andre Ward returned to the gym and began light training on Thursday.
Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), who became the first American to capture boxing gold in eight years as a light heavyweight at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, suffered the injury in November while preparing to scrap retired titlist Kelly Pavlik on March 2 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles.
"It was amazing to be able to say that I was going to a boxing gym and not physical therapy," said Ward, 29, voted last winter as the 2011 “Fighter of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). "I just have to respect the markers I've been given from the doctor. I couldn't go crazy. That's where I have to be careful. I felt great, I felt fast and my wind felt great. It was an amazing feeling to be able to work out in my gym.”
The Bay Area native, who most recently fought on Sept. 8 when he battered formidable Ring Magazine and WBC light heavyweight titleholder “Bad” Chad Dawson en route to achieving a 10th-round TKO, has been permitted to shadowbox and do cardio exercise.
"For somebody like me that competes at a world-class level, it can be frustrating at times to not be able to do what I love to do, which is to box. But all of these things that you go through make you who you are,” said Ward, who is in position to become a national superstar and household name like fellow American gold medalists Muhammad Ali, “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya.
“This is just something else that I have to persevere through and it will help me become the person I'm supposed to be. These injuries and setbacks are something that every top athlete has to overcome. A lot of times people just focus on the high times. I want to take this low time and make it work for me.”
Prior to overwhelming Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs), Ward, rated by Ring Magazine as the second pound-for-pound boxer in the world, unified two crowns and won The Super Six World Boxing Classic when he trumped Carl Froch by unanimous decision in December 2011 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Roger “Pit” Perron is a venerable boxing trainer from Brockton (Mass.) who now works with Mike and Rich Cappiello at their gym, Cappiello Brothers Boxing and Training.
Perron raved about Ward and predicted “The Son of God” will heal and manhandle all challengers for the foreseeable future.
“Ward clearly sticks out in the division,” said Perron, 75, who worked with International Boxing Hall of Famer Marvelous Marvin Hagler at the Petronelli Brothers Gym. “He had just a great performance his last time out. There’s no telling when, or if, he’ll next lose. With his age, his shoulder won’t be a lasting issue.”
In contrast to the thoughts of Perron, it’s concerning that an orthodox boxer like Ward, especially one who displayed newfound power against Dawson, has sustained such an injury.
Regardless, a unique talent for the ages like Ward, a man who has unbelievably not vacated the ring on the losing end of a bout since he was a 12-year-old amateur, will “take this low time and make it work.”
Andre Ward will resume performing at a “world-class level” and remain dominant upon reentering the squared circle in the late summer or early autumn.