Andre Ward went out on top a year ago. On June 17, 2017, he defeated Sergey Kovalev by TKO in Round 8 to lift his record to 32-0. In September, he retired, saying his "body can no longer put up with the rigors of the sport."

So after two decades of boxing, Ward, 34, has spent the past 11 months out of the ring.

"The fight game is tough, but the fight game was a part of my life for two decades," Ward says. "I miss it dearly, but I'm interested in trying to change the narrative, change the way fighters are viewed and give these young guys the OK to walk away even when there's still money and opportunity on the table."

One way Ward eased some of his competitive withdrawal in the past few months was hosting of the new season of "The Contender." It debuts Aug. 24 on Epix with Freddie Roach and Naazim Richardson serving as trainers.

"I'm wearing multiple hats," Ward says of the gig. "It's very easy to just punch your ticket and just do what you're supposed to do and then head off into the sunset and see them the next day. I really wasn't interested in doing that. And they didn't ask me to do that. They said whatever you want to do, you have the latitude to do it. I cared about those young men and I care about them. I've been where they are right now. I've already been down that road. You're helping guys dealing with tough phone calls they're getting from home. You've got young husbands, young fathers, guys coming here believing they're gonna win, they take a loss, you got to help them with that."

Of course, hanging with boxers all day every day triggers certain memories for Ward. And certain emotions.

"You just miss it," Ward says of boxing. "Now that I'm going through this process for the first time, I intimately understand why guys come back because the pull is strong.

"It's almost like a death, so to speak. Something died. But sometimes something has to die for new things to live on."

Ward is the fourth host of "The Contender," following Sylvester Stallone (Season 1), Sugar Ray Leonard (Season 1-3) and Tony Danza (Season 4). This is the first season the program will air on Epix, after stints on NBC, ESPN and Versus.

-- Follow Jeff Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband. Like Jeff Eisenband on Facebook.