By Ryan Maquiñana
Andre Ward’s proposed super middleweight world title defense against Kelly Pavlik on January 26 is being targeted for Los Angeles at a venue to be determined, sources close to the situation have informed BoxingScene.com/CSNBayArea.com. Premium cable network HBO will televise the fight.
“The deal is close,” said Bob Arum, Pavlik’s promoter, who was on vacation in Mexico.
Ward’s promoter, Dan Goossen, could not be reached for comment.
In his last outing, Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) floored reigning light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson three times en route to a 10th round stoppage win. The landmark victory in September both propelled the Oakland native into the upper echelon of boxing’s elite and addressed criticism that his fighting style was not conducive to exciting performances.
“We gave everyone a show and put the Bay Area on the map,” said Ward, who is the last American boxer to win an Olympic gold medal.
Ater cleaning out the super middleweight division by winning the Super Six tournament in 2011, the 28-year-old Ward has been in search of new challenges at 168 pounds.
With Dawson returning to the 175-pound weight class after the defeat, now Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs), the former undisputed middleweight champion, will apparently be next in line to stop the East Bay fighter’s march toward pay-per-view superstardom.
The 30-year-old Pavlik, a fan favorite and established name in the sport, has battled both alcoholism and inactivity following his title loss to Sergio Martinez in 2010. Originally from Youngstown, Ohio, he has since moved training camp to Oxnard to work with renowned cornerman Robert Garcia and is currently riding a four-bout winning streak.
“Some people may balk about the fight and say, ‘[Kelly’s] finished,’ but I know better than that,” Ward told BoxingScene.com/Comcast SportsNet during negotiations. “Bob Arum has done a great job of keeping Kelly busy…and you can believe that a former world champion like Kelly Pavlik, with him getting another shot at the title, he’s going to be prime and ready. We’re going to be ready, and it’s going to be a tremendous show.”
In July, Pavlik decked Will Rosinsky with his signature power and earned a unanimous decision, but was tagged several times over the ten-round duration of the bout.
“I briefly remember the Rosinsky fight, you know, but I think it was the same Kelly,” Ward said. “Kelly’s always kind of gotten hit, but he’s always worn guys down and either caught them or just kind of, you know, did enough to get the win. So I don’t think it was any worse Kelly than I’ve seen before. It’s the same Kelly. You know what Kelly’s going to bring, and that’s that.
“But from my standpoint, the encouraging thing about me is even though I’m two-time world champion, fought some great fighters, I’m not at my best yet. I’m still growing. I’m still getting better, and that win against Chad Dawson took me to another level.”
CSN Bay Area Boxing Insider Ryan Maquiñana is a voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and panelist for Ring Magazine’s Ratings Board. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org , check out his blog at Norcalboxing.net, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28