Is Andre Ward pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world?
Ward, the WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine Super Middleweight champion is one of the best boxers to come around in some 10-15 years. After his 10 rounds of destruction against Light Heavyweight champ Chad Dawson, you have to ask yourself that question about his pound-for-pound status.
The 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist has impressed many with a relentless and ever-adapting boxing style.
If his opponent is defensive-minded, Ward boxes to loosen the defensive shell. If he is fighting a boxer who loves to press the action, Ward forces his foe to retreat. Whichever way a fight is going, Ward does what it takes to get the win. With his latest win against Dawson, is Ward the pound-for-pound king of boxing?
Not yet, but Ward continues to make a case for the pound-for-pound claim with each victory that he notches.
How he defeated Dawson was a huge step in that direction. I personally have Ward ranked second behind only Floyd Mayweather Jr., the undefeated WBC Welterweight king. The argument for placing Ward ahead of Mayweather Jr. has indeed begun.
The fighters Ward has defeated must be considered.
Before Ward made beating Dawson look easy, he was the winner of the hellacious “Super Six” Super Middleweight tournament.
The tournament has had a helping hand in Ward’s ascension to stardom. He fought and defeated five top Super Middleweights: Mikkel Kessler (ranked third), Allan Green, Sakio Bika (ninth), Arthur Abraham (fifth) and Carl Froch (second). Each boxer except for Green is currently ranked in ESPN’s top 10 and is regarded as the best of the best at Super Middleweight.
The last boxer to clean out their respected weight class was former Heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis. (Anyone who mentions the Klitschko brothers Vitali or Wladimir, remember the fact that they have never faced each other.) For Ward, the only fighter ranked in the top five that he has not faced is Lucian Bute, who is fourth in ESPN’s rankings.
Mayweather Jr. has already fought some of the best with a defeat of Miguel Cotto being his last fight. Unfortunately, as long as the dream fight with Manny Pacquiao does not materialize itself, there will always be a question mark.
Ring activity will lean towards Ward.
Being active is difficult to do the further along a fighter goes in his career. So many mitigating factors will dictate how busy a fighter can be.
Age is the first factor.
At 28, Ward is entering his prime. He is rounding into form and he is becoming the fighter that no one wants to face. What he has are the titles that will entice young, up-and-coming boxers to chase him.
Ward is currently building his legend, his star power, his brand, so he can least afford to have a long layoff in between fights.
Mayweather Jr. on the other hand, is a legend, a standard-bearer in boxing; he can afford to take time away. After defeating the likes of Jose Luis Castillo, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, etc., there are few fights left for him.
The only remaining fight that could reshape or tarnish his legacy is a bout with Pacquiao, whom many believe is a better fighter. Pacquiao is the best opponent left for Mayweather Jr. to face.
After Pacquiao, the search for quality opponents is few and far between for Mayweather Jr.
Finding quality opponents for Ward is another factor for staying busy.
A rematch with Froch would be interesting, but facing the winner of the upcoming bout between middleweights Sergio Martinez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. would be tantalizing.
I also think that an Andre Ward-Bernard Hopkins would be an interesting clash.
A win against either foe should vault Ward past Mayweather Jr. as the pound-for-pound king.
To further the discussion in Ward’s favor are two remaining thoughts.
As reported on HBO, Ward has never lost a fight, ever! I cannot recall a fighter who has never been defeated on any level in boxing, or competitive sports for that matter. That thought will get lost on many of us as we weigh the pros and cons of the pound-for-pound list.
The last thought can be summed up with one number, zero! That was the number of punches landed that CompuBox registered in favor of Dawson in the lop-sided seventh round.
What that means is Andre Ward fought an excellent fighter in Chad Dawson and made him look less of a champion and more of an also-ran.
It is dominance like that which makes you ask the question: Is Andre Ward pound-for-pound the best boxer in the world?