“To the sport of boxing — I love you. You’ve been by my side since I was 10 years old. You’ve taught me so much. … 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,” Ward wrote in a statement posted on his website today.
The undefeated 33-year-old fighter, who is part of the Jordan Brand athlete roster, is retiring with a professional record of 32-0. Ward, the light heavyweight champion of the world, is also walking away as the best in the sport, holding the No. 1 spot on the Ring Magazine pound-for-pound list.
Ward’s last win came in June at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas when he defeated heavy-handed Russian boxer Sergey Kovalev for a second consecutive time, stopping him in the eighth round.
Shortly after winning a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Ward had his first pro fight on Dec. 18 of that year, with a second-round TKO of Chris Molina. Aside from Kovalev, Ward has defeated some of the toughest fighters the sport has produced, including retired British legend Carl Froch.
“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. If I cannot give my family, my team and the fans everything that I have, then I should no longer be fighting,” Ward continued in his statement. “Above all, I give God the glory for allowing me to do what I’ve done for as long as I have.”