Andre Ward, the world’s number one pound-for-pound boxer – noted for his two controversial wins over Russian boxer Sergey Kovalev – has retired from the ring aged 33, he announced Thursday.

Ward won Olympic middleweight gold for the USA at the Athens 2004 Games, before turning professional later that year.

He went on to win the WBA Super and WBC super-middleweight titles as well as the unified, lineal light-heavyweight championship from Sergey Kovalev after stepping up in weight.

Those two bouts were noted for varying controversies. The first meeting between the two, in November 2016, was scored a unanimous decision victory to Ward, much to the surprise of many and even the California native himself.

Their rematch in June ended in bizarre fashion when referee Tony Weeks inexplicably stopped the fight with Kovalev on the ropes. Weeks failed to penalise Ward for several clear low blows before the stoppage and instead handed victory to the American.

Ward retires with a perfect 32-0 unbeaten record, with 16 of those wins by KO.

“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. You’ve humbled me. You’ve promoted me. I’ve sacrificed a lot for you, but you’ve given me more than I ever thought possible,” Ward said in a statement posted to his official website.

Andre Ward gives Kovalev a powerful left hook
Andre Ward gives Kovalev a powerful left hook
“You gave me a platform, made me a champion and helped me provide for my family. I am forever grateful to you. You and I will always be synonymous, connected at the hip. Thank you for all the wonderful people I’ve come in contact with because of you.

“I’ve made friends for life. 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.

“From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone who has played a part in my journey. You know who you are. I could not have done this without you. I want to be clear – 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. Above all, I give God the Glory, for allowing me to do what I’ve done, for as long as I have.”

Source: RT