WHO CAN CHALLENGE ANDRE WARD?
San Francisco, CA- This past Saturday evening undisputed World champion Andre Ward completely outclassed Edwin Rodriguez in a battle of undefeated super middleweights. It didn’t matter that Ward was coming off a 14 month layoff and going up against a fresh opponent who had fought three times within that span. Nor did it matter that Rodriguez failed to make the 168 pound weight limit and carried a size advantage going into the ring with the “Son of God”. Ward put on a brilliant boxing masterpiece and sustained his status as the pound for pound number two fighter in the world behind Floyd Mayweather.
ANDRE NEEDS SOMETHING TO SEPARATE HIMSELF FROM FLOYD
But the questions are being begged now: what can the 2004 Olympic Gold medalist do from here to further enhance his legacy? Can he go from being merely a well known fighter to a superstar? Will he ever reign supreme in the unofficial and controversial yet wonder inducing pound for pound rankings? Or will he always be in the backseat as long as Floyd Mayweather is active?
WARD HAS KNOCKED OVER EVERY BOWLING PIN AT 168
Andre Ward has cleaned out the super middleweight division like no one else has done to their weight class in a long time. There is simply no one left for him to fight. Ward’s team has spoken of a rematch with Carl Froch but the brash Brit could make much more money fighting on the other side of the pond against lesser opposition. A fight with WBA 160 lb. guy Gennady Golovkin is possible down the line but the bad ass from Kazakhstan is busy chasing Sergio Martinez in his attempt to be the “real” middleweight champ. There is the possibility that George Groves upsets Froch in their bout this Saturday but a win over the young and unproven Groves would do little to increase Ward’s standing in the eyes of the public.
WANT TO SEE J.C. CHAVEZ JR. GET SOME?
A bout with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr has been brought up to both fighters before and it seems like something both they and their respective promoters are open to. (Why wouldn’t Top Rank want to cash out on the spoiled and undisciplined Mexican brat?) This could very well happen if Chavez gets past Bryan Vera in their upcoming rematch. This could be a good option for the Oakland native as Chavez presents the ideal low-risk/high reward situation. Chavez presents a low threat but a bout with him would bring massive exposure. In the long run though, it adds very little to Ward’s overall legacy to me.
So which direction can Ward go in order to reach the pinnacles of greatness he seems destined for?
The answer may be for him to seek out a new challenge by seeking out a new division to compete in. Seven pounds north of the division in which the “Son of God” has fought throughout his entire professional career lies a terrain he has yet to travel and a kingdom he has yet to conquer. Although he lacks a certain pop in his punches, Ward is known for his immense physical strength but at Light Heavyweight he would be at a disadvantage in this department for the first time.
A “SON OF GOD” VS. FORMER PIMP HOEDOWN?
At the top of the 175 lb. light heavyweight class sits once-licked Adonis Stevenson, the power punching former pimp from Canada. Just beneath him is the probably more destructive Russian and undefeated WBO champ Sergey Kovalev. Jean Pascal will be facing off with Lucian Bute in an All-Canada clash and the victor will emerge with some clout. And of course, lurking in the backdrop of this division still with a chip on his shoulder, always looking for a new challenge is the living legend, never-aging, mentor of Ward’s: Bernard Hopkins.
MANY LEGENDARY FIGHTERS HAVE MOVED UP
Great fighters take great chances. Roberto Duran, Manny Pacquiao, Evander Holyfield, Bernard Hopkins, and both “Sugar Rays” are just a few examples of guys who dominated their divisions with nothing left to prove but moved up weight classes in pursuit of greatness in the form of new and heavier challenges. If Ward can clean out yet another division he could seal his name in the history books, possibly become the modern pound for pound king, and best of his time.
Maybe even greater than the guy named Mayweather.
Jason B. Nava