Andre Ward ended his super middleweight tenure today with the relinquishment of his WBA title.
Ward won the title in his 2009 debut in the Super Six tournament, defeating Mikkel Kessler by technical decision. He went on to win the tournament and made successful defenses against Allan Green, Sakio Bika, Arthur Abraham, Carl Froch, Chad Dawson and Edwin Rodriguez.
Ward signed a three-fight HBO deal earlier this month. With the expressed goal of challenging WBA/WBO/IBF light-heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev in 2016, Ward’s departure from the super middleweight division appeared inevitable.
“I won the WBA belt for my first world title in 2009 and have defended it six times and it’s been a wonderful ride with the WBA,” said Ward. “[WBA president] Gilberto Mendoza and his team have shown me nothing but respect and I’m looking forward to moving up and hopefully winning the WBA light heavyweight belt.”
“Andre Ward has been one of the finest champions in the WBA super middleweight division’s history,” added Mendoza. “We have always been honored to be represented by such a great athlete, gentleman and incredible role model. We wish him the best success in the future and hope we can facilitate the path to him becoming a two-division world champion at light heavyweight.”
A right knee injury forced Ward to withdraw from his light-heavyweight debut on the November 21 Miguel Cotto vs. Canelo Alvarez pay-per-view.
At press time, Ward is planning to return in the first quarter of 2016.