by Kirk Jackson
September 28th is supposed to be the slated return for super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward.
After sitting out for more than a year due to a nagging shoulder injury, the undefeated Ward looks to return as HBO’s premier fighter.
In the interim, fans have gotten their dose of Ward via HBO commentary. Ward is actually a great commentator: he provides accurate analysis and insight into the boxer’s mind, but I’d much rather see him in the ring as opposed to providing play by play commentary.
There has been a war of sorts between Ward’s handlers and HBO over the opponent selection for Ward in his return bout.
Dimitri Sartison 30-2 and Stanyslav Kashtanov 30-1 are some names thrown out by Ward’s team
The fighters mentioned can be viewed as decent opposition depending who you ask, but they do not possess star power.
They are unheard of commodities and from HBO’s perspective, with the loss of Floyd Mayweather, Saul Alvarez, Adrien Broner and a host of other Golden Boy Promotions fighters to Showtime, they need Ward to fight big name fighters and produce big time fights.
Manny Pacquiao, who is coming off a devastating knockout against Juan Manuel Marquez, is the biggest star HBO has left. But Pacquiao, along with Marquez are at the twilight of their careers. Timothy Bradley doesn’t exactly possess star power; neither does Nonito Donaire. Bradley and Donaire by the way are great fighters in their own right. I won’t even get into HBO’s treatment of Guillermo Rigondeaux.
Some boxing fans have been clamoring for a match-up with powerful slugger Gennady Golovkin or with recent Chad Dawson conqueror, Adonis Stevenson.
There is the necessity of a tune-up fight especially after taking a year off. But Ward would definitely need to get busy and probably need to fight again before the year is over.
Before Ward suffered the shoulder injury, he was slated to fight Kelly Pavlik earlier in the year.
Pavlik was a former middleweight champion back in 2008, but his star has since faded. With losses to Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez, it’s clear he is not the fighter he once was. He was probably overrated to begin with.
There were also talks for Ward to fight another Martinez victim, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Thankfully, nothing came of it. We already know how that would turn out, as that would be a mismatch of epic proportions.
A fight between Ward and Martinez at a catch-weight could bode well for both fighters looking for a big name to plant on their resume.
A rematch with Carl Froch is a bout certainly desired by many boxing fans. Froch has done his part to earn a rematch. After losing to Ward in December of 2011, Froch bounced back beating Yusef Mack, the highly regarded super middleweight champion Lucian Bute and most recently defeating Mikkel Kessler in a rematch.
Two major obstacles putting a halt to Ward vs. Froch 2 appears to be the financial incentives and the fight location. Froch wants the rematch to take place in England; Ward wants to be compensated financially for venturing out of his Oakland gopher-hole.
Either way, if the fight is made, I would imagine Ward wouldn’t want to jump into the frying pan immediately. A tune-up would be needed before stepping in the ring with Froch.
Time is ticking and September is right around the corner.
The question is who will be in the opposing corner.