Andre Ward: Leaning Towards February Return, Fight with Kelly Pavlik

Kevin McRae@@McRaeWritesFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2012

Andre Ward has his sights set on Kelly Pavlik in February.
Andre Ward has his sights set on Kelly Pavlik in February.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

WBC and WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward, fresh off his dominating victory over Chad Dawson in September, is looking towards a February return to the ring. 

The targeted return date is Feb. 23 on an HBO televised card against former undisputed middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.

"That's accurate. We're talking with Dan [Goossen]. I think the likelihood of it happening is good," Bob Arum told Rick Reeno of in reference to a Ward-Pavlik fight.

"Cameron [Dunkin] likes the fight. Kelly likes the fight"

Pavlik is currently under contract with Bob Arum's Top Rank, and Ward is represented by Dan Goossen's Goossen Tutor Promotions.

Ward is coming off the biggest, and most impressive victory of his young career. And for a guy who dominated Showtime's Super Six super middleweight tournament, that's saying something.

Ward dropped, dominated and stopped reigning light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, in a fight most observers felt would be a tight contest.

Dominating top fighters has become something of a trend for Ward, who previously defeated Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham and Mikkel Kessler in major fights. He is clearly on the upswing, ranking as high as No. 2 on many pound-for-pound lists after his dominance of Dawson.

Kelly Pavlik, on the other hand, has fallen on hard times since winning the middleweight championship from Jermain Taylor in 2007. 

In recent years, he has struggled with substance abuse problems and a lack of commitment to the sport. It has been a stunning fall for a fighter who was once considered one of the most exciting young fighters in boxing.

After losing the middleweight title to Sergio Martinez in 2010, he took a year off from the ring.

Pavlik, now 30 years old, returned in 2011, and has since defeated four fighters with solid records, but who aren't anywhere near the top of the division. Certainly nothing that would prepare him for a fighter the caliber of Andre Ward.

Ward had previously discussed plans to possibly move up to light heavyweight, having already defeated the recognized champion at that weight, but will stay at 168 for at least this fight. 

A venue has not been discussed yet, but according to Arum, Ward would be willing to host the fight outside of Oakland, his hometown.