|Sometimes, you have to turn around and face complaints head on|
Let's get this out of the way - Andre Ward is that good. Watching his last fight again today against Paul Smith I was reminded once more just how masterful the man is in the ring. Yeah, Smith wasn't the best opponent and yeah, Ward hadn't fought in ages, but sometimes you know first class stuff when you see it, like during Mike Tyson's early days. Ward fights nothing like Tyson, but - in his own way - he dominates his opponents as much as Tyson did.
Why, then, does Ward have such a terrible rep for himself? Sure, he's got his defenders, but you can't go on Twitter these days without reading that he's ducking Sullivan Barrera, or that he may not fight Sergey Kovalev like he's supposed to, or that he has no interest in boxing, period. Why is that? Because, my friends, Ward does nothing to assure fans that their well warranted suspicions might not be true.
In short, the guy's made things tough on himself and in a lot of ways only has himself to blame for the heat he receives from fans these days. For starters, he can literally go years without a fight. Also, he's quick to quench rumors that he may face a serious foe like Barrera. What's more, Ward seems quick to drop out of fights for less than serious reasons, (take his last scheduled fight, for instance).
Look, no one's perfect and Ward is no exception to that rule. Still, the guy doesn't even seem interested in proactively ADDRESSING fan's concerns. When those concerns are legitimate, and sorry, but they are, they should be publicly confronted head on. Ward just isn't that interested in doing that, at least not as far as I can tell - and I follow the sport with an exceedingly close eye.
In the end, it's up to Ward how he wishes to be perceived (at least it is to a large degree). He's unquestionably one of the best athletes in the entire world. It would be nice to see him interested in getting a little public support in return.