Is Andre Ward too good?
Reports surfaced earlier this week that negotiations had begun between super-middleweight champion Andre Ward and former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik for a fight early next year.
This came as a surprise to many, as it appears that the two fighters are heading in opposite directions.
Ward is coming off the biggest win of his career, a dominant 10th-round stoppage of reigning light-heavyweight champion Chad Dawson. Before that, he dominated the Super Six 168-pound tournament, making wins over world-class fighters Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham and Mikkell Kessler look easy.
Pavlik, on the other hand, is struggling to regain some relevance in the sport, where he was once considered a top young fighter.
He has struggled in recent years with alcoholism, including a DUI arrest, and lack of full commitment to the sport. Since losing the undisputed middleweight championship to Sergio Martinez in 2010, his career and personal life have been stuck in a downward spiral.
It's a spiral that he hopes to pull out of and return to success in the boxing ring. He has won four fights in a row, against unspectacular opponents with good records, but has not stepped in with a world-class opponent since Martinez.
That this fight is being even discussed at this stage shows that to a certain extent, Andre Ward has become a victim of his own success. He has cleaned out his division, defeating every possible challenger, and in lopsided fashion.
For many fighters, when they've cleaned out their division, the next logical move is to jump up in weight. But even that's problematic for Ward.
He's already taken on, and dominated, the undisputed champion in the light-heavyweight division. Now you could argue that the fight would be more competitive if Dawson were not required to shed the seven pounds to make the 168-pound limit, but would that sell to the public?
Possibly, but for most they'll keep in the back of their mind the fact that the first contest was a wipeout win for Ward, making a rematch a tough sell.
Other than Dawson at 175 pounds, there is really nobody compelling outside of possibly former champion Jean Pascal and Tavoris Cloud, who was lucky to keep his belt in his last bout with Gabriel Campillo.
Ward has also been linked recently to middleweight king Sergio Martinez, but that appears to be wishful thinking, as Ward is unwilling to move down and Martinez has expressed no desire to step up in weight. That fight, while compelling, has little chance of happening.
So what does that leave for Ward?
Apparently it leaves Kelly Pavlik, who despite showing nothing recently to make us believe he's ready, is likely next up.