RING, WBA and WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward is being targeted for an HBO-televised, Jan. 26 defense of his belts opposite former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik that is likely to land on the West Coast, according to their promoters.
“Atlantic City is not available on Jan. 26. They’ve got a concert there. I’m still working on the venues,” said Ward’s promoter, Dan Goossen.
“I’ve been in talks with Bob (Arum) and Todd (DuBoef) trying to get it finalized. I believe that there is a deal to be made, and we’re just getting through the regular process of trying to get it done.”
Arum, Pavlik’s promoter, said that the clash is not likely to take place in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, and Goossen said, “that’s true.”
“We’re talking. We have a number that we’ve asked for, and he’s trying to get us that number,” said Arum. “We’re the challenger in this situation, so the call and the date would be Dan Goossen’s. So if he wants to go on Jan. 26, then we’re all in favor of it. That’s up to him.”
Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) is coming off September’s HBO-televised 10th-round knockout of RING and WBC light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson in defense of his belts in Atlantic City, after having dethroned Carl Froch as WBC 168-pound titleholder by unanimous decision in the finals of Showtime’s Super Six Super Middleweight Classic last December.
A 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Ward became the first man to stop Dawson (31-1, 17 KOs), whom he floored during the third, fourth and final rounds.
Ward fought through a broken left hand to defeat Froch, later being named Fighter of The Year for 2011 and the recipient of the Sugar Ray Robinson Trophy from the Boxing Writers’ Association of America.
Pavlik is coming off his fourth straight victory with July’s unanimous decision over New York’s Will Rosinsky (16-2, 9 KOs).
Pavlik burst onto the scene with a seventh-round knockout of then-undisputed and previously undefeated middleweight titleholder Jermain Taylor in September of 2007.
Pavlik was later dethroned as WBC and WBO 160-pound titleholder via unanimous decision by Sergio Martinez in April of 2010, and has since fought at or above 168 pounds.
Ward also owns a decision victory from November of 2009 over Denmark’s former four-time beltholder Mikkel Kessler (45-2, 34 KOs), of Denmark, who has won three straight, two of them by knockout, since falling to Ward.
Kessler, 33, rebounded from the loss to Ward by out-pointing Froch in April of 2010, and will pursue his fourth straight win and his third consecutive knockout against Brian Magee (36-4-1, 25 KOs) on Dec. 8. The WBA has mandated that Ward face the winner of Kessler-Magee by June 8.
Another option down the road could be Froch, 35, who bounced back from the loss to Ward with a fifth-round knockout of previously unbeaten southpaw Lucian Bute in May. Froch is set to defend his crown opposite Yusaf Mack in his home town of Nottingham, England, on Nov. 17.
“I would like the rematches with Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch, because Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch did not give Andre his proper due…Carl Froch, he never shuts up,” said Ward’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, during an interview with RingTV.com.
“He’s said that if he would have fought us the way that he fought Bute, that he would have done the same thing to us. They’re just not conceding what he had to concede to, and they’re just not giving us the credit. Those two gentlemen right there, I think I could convince Andre to beat them both on the same night.”
“Kessler has rebounded well from the loss to Andre, including beating Froch, who, himself has rebounded well since his loss to Andre. They have both kind of been reciting the same theme during what appears to be months after their losses, where there wasn’t really any questions as to why they lost, other than the fact that they lost to a better fighter. But, it’s always good to have options out there,” said Goossen.
“So, certainly, if they both continue showing the type of willingness to elevate their profile and their positions, then it’s on the table to look at as a serious considration. We’ve come to see in this business that sometimes fighters learn more from a loss than they do a victory, and in this case, it looks like both Kessler and Froch have learned those lesses quite well. I believe they’ve elevated their games to a higher level, and that makes things interesting as you look forward to future fights.”
Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com