It was the early morning of the Kentucky Derby and of course the night of the Ricky Hatton beat down, and here was Andre Ward holding a breakfast roundtable at the New York New York Hotel Casino.
Ward is not fighting in Las Vegas this week where he and promoter Dan Goossen held court with the media. He’s fighting in his home town of Oakland on Saturday May 16 on Showtime’s ‘ShoBox’ at 9p.m.
Goossen who has never met a great adjective to describe one of his fighters that he didn’t like wanted to talk about the good natured qualities that separate Ward from his contemporaries.
His thought being that Ward should be the talk of the sport although few outside the sport know who he is and he ‘s had just 18 fights to boot.
He pointed to Ward’s unblemished record, that he goes to church is a really good kid and to add that he also won the Olympic Gold medal in 2004.
Never mind the fact that on his resume are stumble bums who were just opponents for the rising super middleweight prospect.
I had to ask what appears to be the obvious question when it comes to Black fighters and that is the mere color of their skin.
Could you imagine if Ward was either Hispanic or white what his popularity would be?
However, with just a couple of Black media reps in the room, it got so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
While acknowledging that perhaps his skin color had something to do with it, Ward also vowed to become a star for all people and not just Blacks.
When the 25-year old takes on Edison Miranda at the Oracle Arena there will be many Blacks in the stand cheering him on.
Miranda is no slouch, having won 28 of 32 victories by knockout against just three defeats two of which were to undefeated Arthur Abraham and one to champion Kelly Pavlik.
For ward to become a star this is as good a place to start. While he’s undefeated he has not always been impressive.
In order to become a branded star in this sport you need to do something spectacular in the ring to be awarded for it outside the ring.
Ward was only the second fight to have marketing agreement with Jordan Brand besides Roy Jones Jr. and he has a team of Black managers behind him with J Prince leading the way.
Just a tab more than 2,000 spectators showed up to watch Black fighters Chad Dawson and Antonio Tarver at the Hard Rock in ‘Vegas last week, so you can’t ignore the color of a fighter’s skin.
Dawson remained undefeated with an unspectacular decision in the rematch, and although he’s a gifted fighter he has not had a signature fight that would catapult him into stardom.
For Ward, there is plenty of reason’s why he could be a star, but the reason that stars are stars is that there are not many of them.
Floyd Mayweather is one, an accomplished Shane Mosley is not. Bernard Hopkins is a brand name, but a star he is not.
Roy Jones Jr. was a star. Mike Tyson was a star.