Andre Ward, the former super middleweight world champion, current top light heavyweight contender and one of boxing’s elite pound-for-pound talents, is a gym rat, so he is never too far from trainer Virgil Hunter’s Hayward, California, gym in the Oakland area.
But Ward (30-0, 15 KOs) now has a more focused purpose for being in the gym as he officially opened his training camp this week in preparation for one of the year’s most significant fights -- a much-anticipated showdown with unified light heavyweight titleholder Sergey Kovalev (30-0-1, 26 KOs).
They are scheduled to fight in the main event of an HBO PPV card on Nov. 19 (9 p.m. ET) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will be the second boxing event to take place at the new facility, which hosted Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan on May 7.
"I've been in pre-camp mode for weeks now following my last fight, and have been mentally preparing for the work ahead of me,” Ward said of the shutout decision against Alexander Brand on Aug. 6. “It's an exciting feeling to be in full camp mode, where I can dedicate 100 percent of my mind, body and soul to the battle I am about to face.
“This is a fight that we have been working up to since last spring. The game plan hasn't changed. I am here and I am ready."
Hunter has trained Ward for his entire career and knows what a diligent worker he is. Nothing has changed, he said.
"No one beats Andre Ward when it comes to training camp,” Hunter said. “We're going into camp with the mentality of ‘another day, another fight, another win.’ His strive for perfection, work ethic and consistency is what makes him a champion."
The fight will be Ward’s third since making his move to 175 pounds after essentially cleaning out the super middleweight division with wins against Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham Sakio Bika and Allan Green, not to mention then-light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, who dropped down in weight to face him.
Now Ward is poised for the biggest fight of his career.
"With everything set for the biggest fight of the year on Nov. 19, we are excited to open training camp,” manager James Prince said. “What is done here for the next few weeks will play a major part in the final outcome. We thank God for the opportunity and look forward to giving the boxing community and all of our fans, the fight that they have been anticipating."