The King’s next move: Assessing Andre Ward’s fight options
Andre Ward may have shocked the world when becoming the first man to halt Sergey Kovalev on Saturday night, but only a short time later the current pound for pound king was eyeing up a curious move to heavyweight.
Many think ‘S.O.G’ could be attempting to run before he can walk despite successfully conquering two divisions already, whilst there seems to be a lengthy queue of fighters awaiting the opportunity to go one-on-one with the world’s best boxer.
Below, WBN lists some of the options open to Ward as the 33 year-old plots further world domination.
Having moved up to secure a new challenge, Ward could yet head back south for the right offer. Granted his old weight of 168 could be off the table, but a super-fight with the winner of Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez could be conceivably made at somewhere around 168 if the money was big enough.
Dmitry Bivol and Nathan Cleverly are both ranked one and two behind Ward with the WBA, whilst Dominc Boesel will soon hope to be in a position – along with Artur Beterbiev, to challenge for the WBO or IBF belts respectively.
A third fight with Sergey Kovalev is no longer an option, although there’s an intriguing-looking contest with former WBC super-middleweight champion Badou Jack, as well as a unification with current ruler Adonis Stevenson.
Plenty of solid options for Ward appear in the 200 pound division in the likes of Aleksandr Usyk, Mairis Breidis and Murat Gassiev, all of whom look a lot tougher than a big slice of the heavyweight division due to their speed and strength.
Should Ward be serious regarding a run at the cruiserweight division though before eventually heading to the top limit, he may be more inclined to consider former champions Steve Cunningham, Marco Huck, Krzysztof Glowacki or Denis Lebedev.
As already stated in the media this week, Tony Bellew would be a willing opponent at the lower end of the 200 pound limit, whilst the Brit’s recent rival David Haye would also make the jump feel a little less daunting for Ward.
Facing current unified world champion Anthony Joshua does somewhat seem like a fantasy match-up in a video game, whilst Ward versus Tyson Fury, Wladimir Klitschko or Deontay Wilder could also be a bad move for the world number one.
Joshua has Klitschko to deal with before Kubray Pulev and possibly Fury himself, so Ward’s chances look slim to none in regards to securing a shot at the lineal crown.
Joseph Parker for the WBO title, a match-up against Alexander Povetkin or the Bellew / Haye options are the best moves for Ward on paper should the talented American attempt to follow compatriot Roy Jones Jr. in jumping from 175 pounds to heavyweight as he did in 2003.
Full list of Ward’s top options:
Phil Jay is Editor of World Boxing News. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay