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Interview: Micky Ward

Boxing is, to many, a sport like no other. It has a certain and very specific raw beauty attached to it, something that's not appreciated by all who have been attracted to it in recent years and certainly not by those who no longer see it as the art form it once was. But, for those who follow the "sweet skill" as devoted fans, the sport that is sometimes referred to as a science of sorts, it has no equal. Part of boxing's appeal is its unpredictability. One week it is a $49.95 pay-per-view event that can be an absolute disaster: the next time, a truly classic bout can be viewed on free television. In either case, the underlying and indisputable fact is that it is those thrilling fights, steeped in spontaneous drama, that keep fight fans coming back long after they have been "burned" by a few ugly, pay-per-view tragedies masquerading as boxing in the truest sense.

One of those classic fights took place this past May, on the 18th, when "Irish" Micky Ward captured a narrow decision over Arturo "Thunder" Gatti. The bout was, without question, the reigning Fight of the Year despite Oscar De La Hoya's win over Fernando Vargas.

After that legendary fight, Ward took some time for an interview on his up coming battles.

GOM: How do you feel Mick? How's the body?

WARD: Excellent. I feel excellent, the body is excellent, everything is just excellent.

GOM: The last bout with Gatti is largely recognized as the Fight of the Year. Do you see this upcoming fight being pretty much the same?

WARD: Pretty much. I know he's going to want to box more or whatever, but I plan on trying to make it a fight like the first one. That was more my type of fight.

GOM: What did you learn last time around?

WARD: I learned that I need to use my jab more and I also need more head movement. This time I need to get off to a quicker start. Obviously, I also learned that he's [Gatti] a tough guy -- but I guess I knew that going in.

GOM: What kind of diet do you follow while you're training for a fight?

WARD: I'm fortunate in that weight is never a problem. There's really no need for a real strict diet. I pretty much just stay away from overly fatty foods. I eat a lot of chicken, fish and pasta.

GOM: Obviously you have to lay off the beer while training.

WARD: Yeah, I don't go near that. No way.

GOM: Way too much at stake, right?

WARD: I've got plenty of time for that when I'm not training for a fight.

GOM: After his loss to Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas tested positive for anabolic steroids. Do you think this is a widespread problem in boxing?

WARD: I don't know. I really don't think so. In the really big fights they test you, so maybe in the lesser fights where there's no testing, there could be guys doing it. I don't think it's a big problem in boxing, but you never know.

GOM: There's a lot of talk about the best pound-for-pound fighters. Who do you feel is the pound-for-pound king?

WARD: Could be Roy Jones, maybe Bernard Hopkins. Vernon Forrest is up there, he proved that. And I don't care what anybody says, De La Hoya's in the mix too. The thing with Oscar is that he fights anyone.

GOM: When I was out in Las Vegas for the De La Hoya fight, Forrest approached Oscar after the fight and asked for a shot. De La Hoya walked away and didn't

even answer him.

WARD: Well, you have to understand that, immediately after a fight, he [De La Hoya] probably had a lot of other things on his mind and didn't want to deal with that.

GOM: When you look at Forrest, he's a legit six-footer that can crack with both hands. He's a smart tactical boxer and he actually has a similar style to De La Hoya.

WARD: That's true. It might not be the greatest of match-ups for Oscar.
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