Life After Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather: Is Andre Ward Boxing's Future?

Brian EthridgeCorrespondent IIINovember 22, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 16:  Andre Ward celebrates after defeating Edison Miranda during the NABO and NABF Super Middleweight Championship boxing match on May 16, 2009 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

There are way too many people who find it too hard to sit back and enjoy the current era of boxing led by Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. How many times have you heard somebody say that boxing will die once Pacman and Money May retire?

Next time you hear somebody say that foolish statement, do yourself a favor and slap them in the face.

Boxing isn’t going anywhere.

It’s true there isn’t as many stars in today’s era than there has been in previous decades. But boxing isn’t going to run dry of superstar talent any day soon.

If you really want a peek into the future of pugilism tune in to Showtime this Saturday night at 9 p.m. Eastern, when super middleweight Andre Ward takes on Sakio Bika.

If the name Andre Ward sounds familiar, you may have heard of him back in 2004 when he became the first American in eight years to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing.

Ward started his fighting career in 1994 and finished with a record of 110-5 as an amateur. He turned pro in December of 2004 and hasn’t lost since. More impressive than his record is the fact that, unlike most rising stars these days, Ward hasn’t been protected.

He won the WBA super middleweight title in 2009 with a lopsided victory over Mikkel Kessler and destroyed Allan Green in June.

While Green may have been overrated when they fought, Kessler is still believed to be one of the elite super middleweights in the world today. Besides Ward, the only fighter who has been skilled enough to beat the Viking Warrior is some guy named Joe Calzaghe, and I don’t think I need to tell you how good that guy was.

At only 26 years old, Ward’s best days are still ahead of him. That’s scary considering he would be the favorite over every fighter in his division except maybe Lucian Bute.

Admittedly, Sakio Bika shouldn’t be much of a challenge on Saturday night. Fans of boxing would have rather seen Ward fight his close friend and fellow Olympian Andre Dirrell, but his professional boxing career may be over after he suffered what seems to be a severe neurological problem following the cheap shot he suffered at the hands of Arthur Abraham in March.

After he beats Bika, Ward will likely resume competing in Showtime’s Super Six Tournament.

He’s already a heavy favorite to win the competition, but to do so he will have to fight even tougher competition than he has already faced. Potential future opponents include Carl Froch, Glen Johnson and Abraham.

If Andre Ward does in fact win the tournament, he will undoubtedly become a household name to all boxing fans and a force to be reckoned with in the sport.

Whether he ever reaches worldwide superstar status like Pacquiao and Mayweather depends on a number of things. He would have to continue fighting a high level of competition for the next few years, stay undefeated and eventually move up in weight.

Unfortunately Ward doesn’t have knockout power like Pacquiao, but he’s a slick boxer who’s capable of entertaining even the most casual fans with his speed, quickness and unmatched skill.

So if you’re really worried about the state of boxing when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather retire, tune into Showtime on Saturday night when the future of the sport will be on display for everyone to see.

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