Who Has More to Prove, Floyd Mayweather or Andre Ward?

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2013

Andre Ward's speed and quickness make him a sensational fighter.
Andre Ward's speed and quickness make him a sensational fighter.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Floyd Mayweather has fought four times since 2007.

Mayweather may no longer be the most active fighter, but he belongs to the ages.

Andre Ward is the top up-and-coming fighter in the sport today, and perhaps, one day he will earn a spot among the sport's greatest athletes.

So, we are really asking a question that has a clear answer. Mayweather is a proven commodity and an all-time great. Ward is a talented athlete and an excellent fighter in his generation. But he has miles to go to reach his peak.

The real question is whether Ward can ever reach the level that Mayweather has already attained.

Mayweather's contemporaries are not the top fighters of the current era. If you want to compare him to Juan Manuel Marquez, Sergio Gabriel Martinez, Saul Alvarez, Carl Froch, Nonito Donaire and Adrien Broner, go ahead.

However, it's not an apt comparison. Those men are good fighters in their era. Mayweather (43-0-0) is one of the great fighters of all-time.

Mayweather is a polarizing figure. Like many great fighters across the generations, Mayweather, 36, has been an individual with his own style. That style may turn on a number of fans and turn off an equal number.

But Mayweather belongs to the ages.

He has dominated throughout a professional career that started in 1996. He has beaten Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Marquez, Shane Mosley and Victor Ortiz. He has won with any number of styles, but his overall boxing skill has been overwhelming.

His real rivals may be Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Leonard—the true greats of boxing.

Ward, 29, may be the best fighter in the game besides Mayweather. While Mayweather has certainly reached his physical peak, Ward (26-0-0) is getting better, and he is growing significantly every year.

Perhaps, his skill level improves with every fight he has. Ward has sensational movement skills, is an expert at analyzing his opponents' strengths and weaknesses and figuring out the proper strategy to beat them.

He is intelligent—both in the ring and outside of it.

Oh, yes, he can also fight. In 2011, he pounded out unanimous decisions over Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch. In 2012, he registered a one-sided 10th-round technical knockout over Chad Dawson.

Ward knocked down Dawson three times before the fight was stopped.

As Ward continues to grow in the game, his reputation will increase.

He will have an increased chance to join the pantheon of greats if he can find a substantial rival who will challenge him.

Ward may be on a similar career path to Mayweather, but he doesn't have anything close to the level of accomplishment.

Ward may get there, but he has much more left to prove than Mayweather.