By: Simon Ruvalcaba
During a recent conference call ESPN Boxing lead commentator Joe Tessitore spoke about the chemistry of the expert commentators Tim Bradley and Andre Ward being like two friends sitting on the couch watching boxing and talking about it. The fact that Bradley and Ward mesh well together should come as no surprise. The two really are friends going back to the amateur circuit in the 2004 era where Ward became the most recent American Boxing Gold Medalist and Bradley lost in the Olympic Trials in what ended his own distinguished amateur career. The two former fighters with all of their international experience and understand of boxing strategy and styles and are now able to educate the audience through the headset.
The Boxing connection expands to their outside the ring life. Bradley and Ward are of the same cloth when it comes to life away from the boxing stage. In a day and age of 24 hour news and nothing being a secret, Bradley and Ward are two deeply rooted Christians dedicated to their families! ESPN will never have to worry about any controversy coming from these two. Bradley’s wife Monica took over Managerial duties of her Husband’s career and continues to stand by his side in the commentating venture. I remember chatting with her at the weigh in for the bout between Ray Beltran vs Paulus Moses in Reno, Nevada. You couldn’t help but notice Mrs. Bradley looking up with a proud and somewhat relieved looking smile on her face as her husband was doing a live on air. When I introduced myself and I asked her how much of a relief it is to see him up in that role as opposed to seeing him in the ring, she did shake her head with a smile at the comment!
As I covered Ward’s career early on being in the Northern California/Nevada region I ran into him a few times. One time he was even in the same locker room for one of my fights in Reno as he was there to support his stablemate Tony Hirsch, a former Oakland Raider turned boxer that trained out of King’s Boxing Gym in Oakland. That in itself stood out, as an Olympic Gold Medalist that never saw himself as too big and stood behind his team. It is never out of the ordinary to see Ward at local pro and amateur events and he is never flashy looking where he is there to steal the spotlight from any other up and coming fighter. As much as he has always been by the side of fighters, never far from his side has been the love and support of his wife Tiffiney who I first saw in Reno before the Olympics. Ward was coming off a hand injury and had his first fight back at a USA vs Puerto Rico competition. Afterwards I saw Andre going to eat with his family and I looked over at my colleague Charles Presnell and mentioned how grounded Ward looks with the people around him.
For the the two World Champions to have a mentor like Joe Tessitore to guide them and groom them from a production stand point, and add in the drama, goose-bump creating storylines from Mark Kriegel, it makes for a great team that ESPN has assembled for their boxing coverage which is being critiqued as unbiased and honest, especially considering the friendship that Bradley and Ward have in the sport with many that are still active. Andre himself did a great job of remaining Neutral on Saturday when Crawford and Khan clashed. Crawford a good friend and Khan a fighter who is trained by Ward’s trainer and God Father Virgil Hunter. Add to that the undercard fight with Shakur Stevenson who Ward Co-Manages. If you are a new fan it may have surprised you to find out that Ward was close to and has ties with any fighter?
Perhaps It’s only destiny? I once interviewed Ward at the Staples Center when Vitali Klitschko defended his Heavyweight title against Chris Arreola. Mid interview a Staples Center security member forced me to sit down and I got an odd camera angle in which Ward’s lips covered the screen. When I turned in my work from the event I did mention in the email to my fighthype editor Ben Thompson that the Ward interview had an awkward angle, but he did have great comments about his then upcoming fight with Mikkel Kessler. More ironic was a comment I made back then in September of 2009 about how it could just be fate and maybe one day it’ll be Ward’s lips and the words coming out of his mouth that makes him known just as much as his great talent in the ring? At that time, I was thinking maybe one day he was going to end up being a pastor or something? I was a regular at Pastor Randall Cunningham’s Remnant Ministries Church when I covered fights in Vegas and Ward’s own Pastor Napolean Kaufman is a former star Running Back who turned down millions to pursue the ministry. As fate has it, it is turning out to be the commentating platform where the words coming from his lips are leaving their mark!
About the Editor
Army Veteran and former Professional Boxer Simon Ruvalcaba started boxing at the age of ten and Had a 71 fight amateur career which featured a 139 lbs. 1998 8th U.S. Army Boxing Championship out of Camp Casey, Korea and a spot on the prestigious Army Boxing Team at Fort Hood, TX. After a journeyman pro career of 18 fights, which included sparring sessions with many champions and contenders including Julio Cesar Chavez and Pernell “Sweat Pea” Whitaker, Simon started writing and has contributed to many publications and websites including fighthype.com, pound4pound.com, Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA), Nevada Appeal (Carson City, NV) and also writes a monthly boxing column for Tahoeonstage.com. He has also been the Boxing Instructor for Ken Shamrock and The Lions Den and was UFC star Paige VanZant’s first boxing coach!
Born and Raised in South Lake Tahoe, California he now resides in Sun Valley, Nevada and spends as much time as possible with his Son Gabriel! Beyond boxing, Simon is an all around sports fanatic and is passionate about the teams that he roots for!