Andre Ward 'leaving' boxing in surprise retirement

The number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world has decided to call it quits at the age of 33.

Andre Ward — the current unified light heavyweight world title holder and former unified super middleweight champion — announced on his website that he is “leaving” boxing after 13 years.

Ward amassed a professional record of 32-0 with 16 knockouts. Prior to making his professional boxing debut in 2004, the California boxer won a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics. He has competed since he was nine years old and, according to his statement, his body had simply had enough.

“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 titled “Mission Accomplished” said. “If I cannot give my family, my team, and the fans everything that I have, then I should no longer be fighting.”

Ward also addressed his retirement with ESPN’s First Take.

“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,” Ward said.

In his last fight back in June, Ward stopped Sergey Kovalev in the eighth round to retain the WBA, IBF and WBO light heavyweight titles while also claiming the vacant The Ring light heavyweight title.

The announcement of his retirement comes on the heels of his contract ending with HBO, where he fought six of his past seven fights.

“Andre Ward ends his boxing career as he only knew how to live it — as a champion at the top,” Peter Nelson, executive vice president, HBO Sports said in a statement. “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.”

Ward leaves the sport with no regrets despite seemingly being in the prime of his career. Nevertheless, it’s always better to bid the sport farewell too soon before it’s too late.

“As I walk away from the sport of boxing today, I leave at the top of your glorious mountain, which was always my vision and my dream. I did it. We did it.”

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