Who is the best boxer in the world, the pound for pound number one fighter? The popular choice for quite some time has been Floyd Mayweather, sometimes Manny Pacquiao. In truth, Andre Ward deserves that imaginary title just as much, which is why his fight against Kelly Pavlik doesn’t sound like a fair one at all.
Yes, Pavlik is still a big name in a division not exactly filled with it. It promises Ward an HBO fight and another high-profile opponent after dismantling Chad Dawson two and a half months ago. The Super Middleweight champion, holding the current WBA (Super), WBC and The Ring belts, is ranked by most media outlets as #2 or #3 in the world. Pavlik, in somewhat of a comeback trail, is nowhere near the class needed to make this fight difficult for Ward.
Andre Ward’s a hell of a world champ. He’s the super middleweight king right now. He went through a tough tournament and proved where he’s at. He beat everybody that he was supposed to fight, and he’s top dog. When I was middleweight champ, I was the one being pursued. Now he’s super middleweight champ and I’m in hot pursuit.
Ward’s recent wins have been against Dawson, Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham and Mikkel Kessler. All of them, now and then, are probably better fighters than Kelly Pavlik at his current condition, way past the prime of when he was the best Middleweight in the world. Battling Alcoholism and inner demons led him down a rough road. He’s making his comeback, step by step, but none of his wins warrant anything to suggest he can get close to Ward, as untouchable and fast of a fighter who’s working on becoming much more explosive and entertaining.
Pavlik has three wins in a busy 2012, taking on Aaron Jaco, Scott Sigmon and Will Rosinsky. Nothing to get anyone excited. It’s a nice story of a man trying to find his way back in the world and the sport he loves, but not a championship caliber boxer, not when it’s Andre Ward he’s facing.
Pavlik is a big name, but he is also a formidable former world champion whose only losses have been to Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez in 12-round decisions. It’s the Pavliks of the world who have been to the top and want to get back there who are dangerous. You don’t take anything for granted, and I know Andre isn’t. He doesn’t underestimate the challenge from Pavlik.
You have to sell the fight. On paper, in terms of name and ability to sell tickets, it’s a pretty good decision. In terms of how good of a fight it can be? It depends completely on Ward’s desire to open up and show the kind of power he had against Dawson, knocking the bigger man to the canvas three times before winning with a 10th round TKO. It shouldn’t be much different against 30 year old Pavlik.
I’ve heard all the talk about Kelly Pavlik, but I know better than that. He’s beaten plenty of the big names. Bob Arum has done a great job of keeping Kelly busy until an opportunity like this came along. You can bet that a former world champion like Kelly Pavlik, being afforded another title shot, he’s going to be primed and ready. We are going to be ready, too, and it’s going to be a tremendous show.