RING, WBA and WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward could face former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik in Los Angeles in an HBO-televised fight on Jan. 26, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.
Ward’s promoter, Dan Goossen, could not be reached on Saturday, but Pavlik’s promoter, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum, said on Friday that contracts for the fight were “close” to being signed, although Arum said that he was not aware of the venue.
“I’ve been in talks with Bob (Arum) and Todd (DuBoef) trying to get it finalized,” said Goossen in an earlier interview with RingTV.com.
“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.”
In an earlier interview, Arum said that the clash is not likely to take place in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, and Goossen said, “that’s true.”
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.
“We gave everyone a show and put the Bay Area on the map,” said Ward to CSNBAYAREA, referring to the fight with Dawson. “It’s like, Kelly Pavlik, some people may balk about the fight and say, ‘He’s finished,’ but I know better than that.”
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).
“I briefly remember the Rosinsky fight, you know, but I think it was the same Kelly. Kelly’s always kind of gotten hit, but he’s always worn guys down and either caught them or just kind of, you know, did enough to get the win. So I don’t think it was any worse Kelly than I’ve seen before,” said Ward, in an interview with BoxingScene.com.
“It’s the same Kelly. You know what Kelly’s going to bring, and that’s that. But from my standpoint, the encouraging thing about me is even though I’m two-time world champion, fought some great fighters, I’m not at my best yet. I’m still growing. I’m still getting better, and that win against Chad Dawson took me to another level.”
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.
“Bob Arum has done a great job of keeping Kelly busy,” said Ward. “You can believe that a former world champion like Kelly Pavlik, with him getting another shot at the title, he’s going to be prime and ready. We’re going to be ready, and it’s going to be a tremendous show.”
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 Saturday night.