THE RING and WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward issued a statement indicating that he has “decided to relinquish” the WBC’s “Champion Emeritus” belt, which essentially stripped Ward of the WBC 168-pound belt he won from Carl Froch in December of 2011 by unanimous decision in the finals of Showtime’s Super Six tournament.
As a result of the WBC’s decision to strip Ward (26-0, 14 knockouts) of their belt, the June 22 clash between Cameroon native Sakio Bika and Mexico’s unbeaten Marco Antonio Periban will be for the vacant WBC title. In November of 2010, Ward outpointed Bika by scores of 118-110, 118-110 and 120-108.
Ward, 29, recently informed RingTV.com that he is likely to return to the ring in September from successful surgery in early January to repair his injured right shoulder, with potential opponents including former WBC middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and the top light heavyweight division.
The injury to Ward forced the cancelation of his scheduled March 2 defense against former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik. Ward, who is promoted by Dan Goossen and managed by James Prince, is coming off an HBO-televised 10th-round knockout of RING and WBC light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson last September, which followed the win over Froch.
During his time off, Ward has worked as an HBO ringside commentator, and expects to watch Dawson in that capacity on June 8 when the light heavyweight champ faces hard-punching super middleweight contender Adonis “Superman” Stevenson.
Below is Ward’s entire statement regarding his move:
After careful thought and consideration with my family and team, I have decided to relinquish my WBC Super Middleweight World Champion Emeritus Title. As has been recently reported, the WBC elected to strip me of my world title belt, making the upcoming bout between Sakio Bika and Marco Antonio Periban for the vacant Super Middleweight Title. After consultation with my manager James Prince and attorney Josh Dubin, it is my belief that the WBC did not have the right to strip me of my World Title and name me Champion Emeritus. We voiced our position to the WBC, and after several discussions, have agreed to disagree with their interpretation of the facts and rules. In our opinion, we feel strongly that I did not violate the rules in any manner whatsoever.
When I fought Chad Dawson, there was no mandatory contender. Subsequent to my victory, I injured my shoulder but have remained ready, willing and able to defend my title within the period specified by the WBC’s rules. Nonetheless, without what we feel was appropriate due process, the WBC elected to strip me of my World Title. I think my track record in fighting the best opponents available speaks for itself. I worked extremely hard and dedicated my entire career to win and defend my WBC belt. As a matter of principle, I have chosen to stand up for what I believe is right. I think the fans know and appreciate that I am the Super Middleweight Champion of the World, and I trust that I will continue to be recognized as such. I am back in training again, feeling great, and excited about my return to the ring.
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org