Andre Ward: How to Retire a Rich and Undefeated Boxing Legend Before Age 30
When Showtime constructed the Super Six Boxing Classic Tournament, they did so with the idea of creating a star out of the Super Middleweight division. It's become apparent that Andre Ward (24-0, 13 Knockouts) is that star.
Of the four fighters who started out undefeated, Ward is the only one to retain his "0". He's also the only competitor in the tournament to legitimately win all his fights by unanimous decision.
There's been no controversial split or majority decisions, draws or odd disqualifications in Ward's Super Six showdowns.
Now he comes close to Super Middleweight supremacy with the final match of the tournament between himself and Carl Froch (27-1, 20 Knockouts) taking place live on October 29 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
With the Super Middleweight Tournament providing Ward a great resume of vanquished combatants under his belt such as Arthur Abraham (32-3, 26 Knockouts), Mikkel Kessler (44-2, 33 Knockouts) and Sakio Bika (28-5-2, 17 Knockouts), one has to wonder how much more does he need to do before his career is completed.
Well, once he's gained the status as the Super Six winner, it's time to gain some money with said title.
Lucian Bute in Canada
Lucian Bute (29-0, 24 Knockouts) is a Canadian favorite with an exciting action-packed style that includes devastating body punches.
Why would Ward want to compete with him? For starters, his fans in Montreal are rabid and sell out the Bell Centre religiously when he fights.
Showtime is heavily invested in the fight between the two undefeated stars happening. It would give Showtime it's own Trinidad vs De La Hoya buildup.
Bute is the only elite talent at super middleweight who didn't participate in the Super Middleweight Tournament. That means he hasn't faced the elite talent Ward has.
But Showtime is changing that very quickly by matching Bute up against Glen Johnson this November.
This fight is a big one that can grow bigger as each fighter keeps winning, but Showtime may try to have the match sometime in 2012 to avoid either fighter having an upset before the anticipated showdown.
Though this may be a dangerous route considering Bute's speed and power, the legacy and millions will be worth the risk.
Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch Rematches in Their Hometowns
Ward is a growing star, but he doesn't attract huge audiences yet in his hometown.
Mikkel Kessler is a rockstar to his home country of Denmark. He's currently fighting on November 5 for the WBO world title against Robert Stieglitz (39-2, 23 Knockouts).
Should Kessler win and sell out the over 50,000 seat capacity Parken Stadium being used for the fight, a world title unification match would be of interest.
Not only would it be a rematch of one of Kessler's only defeats, it would be at least three world titles at stake.
Carl Froch is another hometown hero. His home of Great Britain shows its best boxers the kind of love that makes millionaires with ease.
Froch is tough, so it's unlikely Ward will completely dominate Froch to the point that a rematch would appear completely unnecessary.
Ward may win and Ward may do so by unanimous decision, but in no way will Froch not be competitive. Froch has talked of returning home for a match of two.
Ward may want to take advantage of the British audience and rake in those pounds.
The only problem with either match would be that they would likely go to a decision. Ward is not a good finisher, leading him to have many unanimous decisions in his victories.
Hometown heroes tend to get decisions in close fights, so Ward would have to be extraordinarily dominant to defeat both men in their hometowns.
Again, the money is great, but so is the risk.
Sergio Martinez at a Catchweight of 164 Lbs
Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 Knockouts) is the face of boxing outside of Mayweather or Pacquiao so HBO gives him just about anything he wants.
Martinez wanted the Paul Williams rematch last November, so he got it.
When Martinez knocked Williams out in round two, the whole world jumped and Martinez officially became the best fighter in the world that's not from the Philippines.
When Ward is done at 168 lbs, perhaps he could face Martinez at a catchweight of 163-165 lbs. Martinez is the Ring Champion at middleweight (160 lbs) and is not willing to come up to come up at all. He's said this numerous times.
But if the likes of Arthur Abraham can safely drop down from 168 lbs to 160 lbs, maybe Ward can too. He just needs to talk to his trainers and handlers as well as maybe conditioning experts like Victor Conte and see what's possible.
The further down Ward can get in weight, the lower the catchweight can be and more likely the fight is to happen.
Martinez is not one to chase bigger fighters, but if Ward can come in at or very close to 160 lbs, it'll be hard for Martinez to avoid the challenge without tarnishing his reputation.
Bernard Hopkins and the Light Heavyweights
One of the more obvious moves for Ward is to move up to the next weight class, light heavyweight (175 lbs).
In this weight class, Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2, 34 Knockouts) reigns supreme, but his reign is directly challenged by Canadian superstar Jean Pascal (26-2-1, 16 Knockouts), Tavoris Cloud (23-0, 19 Knockout) and Chad Dawson (30-1, 17 Knockouts).
The most obvious big-money fight in this division is against either Hopkins (name recognition) or Pascal (rabid Canadian fanbase).
Dawson would definitely come with decent HBO money and Cloud has King on his side and both HBO and Showtime would toss millions at the chance to host a superfight between two undefeated fighters.
As was the case with Timothy Bradley vs Devon Alexander, HBO gave up millions for what unfortunately turned out to be a dud.
Currently, Pascal and Cloud are trying to negotiate a fight for possibly December and Hopkins is scheduled to defend his WBC world title against Dawson October 15.
Last year, Hopkins fought Pascal and Pascal fought Dawson. At this rate, Ward could just pick apart the winners to claim a few titles, a couple million and a light heavyweight notch under the legacy belt.
This would be similar to what Joe Calzaghe did at the end of his career against Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. Beating two elites at the end of his career at a higher weight division before retiring was great finishing touch to his legacy and can also be a nice touch to Ward's as well.
Ward's a great fighter, but I'm not saying he'll win all or any of these fights.
I'm just outlining that if he can win and stay winning these very tough fights (something I believe is hard but possible with his talent), his career has a foreseeable lucrative end.
Michael Spinks had nothing to prove by the time he retired at 31, almost undefeated if not for Mike Tyson.
Tyson himself could've retired undefeated had he beaten Buster Douglas so he could go on and give the world a superfight between an undefeated version of himself and an undefeated Evander Holyfield.
If Tyson had knocked out Douglas and Holyfield, he could've hung up his gloves in 1990 at age 24.
Just like Tyson and Spinks who cleaned up very fast in their day, Ward is on his way to doing the same. But first, he must win the tournament on October 29 on Boardwalk Hall in New Jersey.
Should he win, the door to retirement at 30 gets nudged a little further open.