United States

Oakland Honors Local Boxer with ‘Andre Ward Day'

With only two days until boxer Andre Ward's fight against Colombian Alexander Brand at Oracle Arena on Saturday, his hometown of Oakland declared Thursday to be Andre Ward Day, in honor of the hometown super middleweight champion.

To promote the fight, Ward received a certificate standing next to Lake Merritt, a place where he has trained for nearly two decades.

"I've been running this lake since I was a boy, since I've been a kid," he said. "These grounds helped build me, made me who I am. So to be here and have the media here, and be able to put on big fights here, it's surreal."

The location made him nostalgic. With the Olympics in Rio beginning Friday, he also looked back on his time in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, where he won a gold medal.

"No matter what I do as a professional, I'll always have a sweet spot in my heart (for the Olympics)," he said. "It wasn't about fame, it wasn't about money. It was just purely about representing this country. That was my first big, big dream, to win a gold medal."

Ward says he's also excited about the current Olympic boxing team, and hopes the U.S. can again become a force to be reckoned with.

Ward is favored to win against Brand on Saturday, but he insisted he's not underestimating his opponent.

"It's impossible for me to overlook this man. I'm not built like that. I wasn't raised like that. I wasn't groomed like that as a young fighter. I don't operate like that," he said. "This is his SuperBowl. And 'cause it's his SuperBowl, this has to be my SuperBowl."

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