Thursday, 28 December 2017 16:22

Andre Ward: Odds for a comeback, high

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Hall of fame promoter Bob Arum once said: “Sugar Ray Leonard's retirements last about as long as Elizabeth Taylor's marriages.”

And yes, Leonard is the poster child for boxing comebacks, having done it numerous times.

Among great fighters and champions, comebacks in boxing are very common and the process is nearly as old as the sport itself.

Remember when undefeated former heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries, the original Great White Hope, came out of a 6-year retirement hoping to dethrone the unpopular Jack Johnson in 1910.

Perhaps you don't remember?!?!

But ever since, great champions have had difficulty staying away from the sport.


It's usually due to one or more of the reasons below:

  • Need of money
  • Missing the limelight
  • Bravado and pride

Marciano and Hagler
Brockton, MA natives and fight legends Rocky Marciano and Marvelous Marvin Hagler are a rare breed in that they are two of the few all-time greats who retired relatively young - and stayed retired.

Shall we add Joe Calzaghe and Carl Froch to that list? Perhaps it's too soon to include them as they are still in their 40s and could come back any day now.

Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KO)
Earlier this year, undefeated fight legend Andre Ward announced his retirement at 33.

What's the likelihood of this all-time great staying retired?

Answer: How likely is it Buffalo will have snow this winter?

If boxing history is any indication of Ward's future, odds tell us he'll return to the ring one day.

“I don’t think there’s second thoughts,” Ward recently told HBO's Jim Lampley on The Fight Game. “But I will tell you this – retirement is a lot harder than I thought it would be. You know, I’ve read about athletes retiring, fighters retiring. I’ve heard about it. I studied it, kind of what’s the right time and those kind of things. But there’s a detox that has to take place. I’ve been doing this 23 years straight, and then, all of a sudden, it’s gone. And it’s a process."

"But it’s a process that I felt I had to undertake. I’m up for the challenge and I just hope to be someone that the younger fighters can point to and say, ‘He did it the right way.’ ”

Retirement isn't easy, is it?

... Especially for a two division world champion who has defeated the likes of Sergey Kovalev, Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch, Chad Dawson, Sullivan Barrera and Arthur Abraham. Ward is warrior who is used to facing - and overcoming - big challenges.

Most likely comeback scenario
If, within the next 2 or 3 years, a big star arises from the light heavyweight or cruiserweight division a Ward comeback will be imminent.

Everyone will ask, "What would happen if Ward fought Fighter X?"

... And the mega millions for such a showdown will be there.

Other scenarios
Andre doesn't seem to like one to throw away money so finances might not be a concern. However, he simply might get bored. And after all of those big fights and great moments, who wouldn't? Andre Ward is a well-spoken, clean cut guy who could certainly become a commentator while landing more acting roles along the way; But the temptation to return to the ring will be with him for a long time.

Ward is a warrior... And warriors fight. (And if that warrior can earn handsome coin in the process, even better)

But if Ward truly plans on staying retired, he'll need a new vocation that he has great interest in that challenges him to the fullest.

Just a few legends who couldn't stay away from the ring
Muhammad Ali, Jim Jeffries, Sugar Ray Leonard, Sugar Ray Robinson, Larry Holmes, George Foreman, Earnie Shavers, Willie Pep, Evander Holyfield, Roberto Duran, Felix Trinidad, Roy Jones, Jr, Thomas Hearns, Floyd Mayweather, Jr, Jack Dempsey, Jose Frazier, Pernell Whitaker, Riddick Bowe and Julio Cesar Chavez.

Leroy Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.