Webster (left) has been helping Ward prepare for an upcoming title defense against Chad Dawson.
By John Archibald, Team Webster Publicist (Resolution Sports)
Super Middleweight Has Spent Past Month with Undefeated World Champion Andre Ward
A month of experience in camp with an undefeated world champion and Olympic Gold Medalist is not something that comes along too often for any fighter, but Derrick “Take it to the Bank” Webster (13-0, 7 KOs) is closing out that exact scenario this week. The unbeaten New Jersey native has been working alongside WBA (Super) and WBC Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) over the past four weeks at Big Bear Mountain in California, helping the crafty titleholder get ready for a September 8th outing with WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs) in Oakland.
“You can’t buy an experience like this,” Webster said from the gym after a session with Ward. “For me to be out here competing with a world champion, Olympic Gold Medalist the way I am, it helps me to realize exactly what kind of fighter I am. It has definitely played a big part in developing my overall mental toughness. My work ethic has also increased for sure by working with Andre the way I have. But as far as the experience goes, it doesn’t get any better than this. I can’t get in the ring with anyone as good as this man, bringing the things that I am presenting to him. I’m learning in the ring and even outside of it. We have really good and educational conversations. He teaches me how to use the tools that I have and utilize them in different ways to present even bigger problems for my opponents.”
Not only has Webster been able to personally acknowledge an improvement in his game over the past month, the man who flew him out to California has also been impressed and very pleased with what the southpaw has brought to his camp.
“Derrick has a lot of potential, man. He has a lot of heart,” said Andre Ward, who was named the 2011 Ring Magazine Fighter of the Year. “He’s been out here working hard. He’s been giving me some of my best work, so definitely look for some big things from him in the future. And he’s got his head on straight, and that’s what’s most important.”
Something that is always difficult for a fighter is finding training partners who can properly prepare him for his upcoming opposition, especially when getting ready for a tall, rangy south paw like Chad Dawson. However, Ward says that he is more than satisfied with both the tools and traits that Webster has produced over their time together at Big Bear.
“This is boxing, and I’m not going to find anybody who’s exactly like Chad, and I know he’s not going to find anybody like me,” Ward stated. “You do the best you can to get the height, get the range and get somebody in the ballpark. Derrick has his own style, and he has plenty of speed and is a great boxer. The most important thing is he has the left-handed stance, the height and the range. That’s what’s important. You’re not going to find anybody who fights exactly like the guy you’re fighting. You just try to do the best you can and come close.”
During his time in California, Webster has not just simply been in the ring with Ward. He has found out that he belongs in there with boxers of his caliber. Always a humble and down-to-earth person, Webster has certainly found some increased faith in his abilities over the past four weeks.
“My confidence is through the roof, but this has also brought another level of humbleness to me,” he remarked. “I’ve always been confident but not cocky, yet this has brought a different level of humbleness to me. It just makes me want to work even harder, and it has opened my eyes to an even brighter future. I’ve always seen big things for myself, but now I see even larger things for the future. I just want to sharpen up, remain a student and not let the lights, camera and all that stuff outweigh the abilities that God has created for me. I just want to work as hard as I can possibly work, and being in there with guys like Andre Ward, it doesn’t get any better. Being in there with him has helped me to see where I belong in a very short period of time.”
The degree of humility that Webster possesses is something that truly defines him. As a person who has dealt with losing some of the people closest to him as a result of homicide, in addition to facing a street life that has made many desperate attempts to suck him into its dark path, he has emerged as a symbol of strength that inspires everybody around him to do all they can to fight through their own obstacles. He knows that many people look to him to find the best in themselves, and those are reasons why he is certain that no level of success will ever change him from being the man who was created through overcoming his own hardships.
“You know what? What I have to do is keep praying,” Webster admitted when asked what he must do to remain humble. “I also have to keep listening to my trainer. Denny Brown is definitely the reason that I have become the man and fighter that I have become. He is definitely the reason. He has the upmost respect for me, and he believes in my abilities. He doesn’t care too much about all the things I do right. He always wants to capitalize on the things I do wrong. In order for me to reach my real potential and to remain being me, I have to stay faithful to the people who have been loyal to me and have been there for both my ups and my downs. That would be God first, my family, my team and definitely my fiancée, Kara Shelton. I just have to stay close to the people who have been down for me since day one.”
An obvious family man, Webster could not help but show his excitement when he thought about heading back home to New Jersey on Wednesday, reuniting with his family and loved ones.
“I can’t wait to get home,” he confirmed. “I miss my family. They’re what comes first in my life outside of God. They can’t wait for Dad to return, and I can’t wait to be back in the arms of my kids and my fiancée. My family is my rock and my backbone.”
When Webster arrives in the Garden State, it will be immediately back to the gym for himself and his trainer, Denny Brown. The undefeated super middleweight will have a quick turnaround before his next bout, fighting in the main event of an August 31st card at Mount Airy Casino in the Poconos.