By Victor Salazar
If everything goes as planned, light heavyweights Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev will collide at the end of the year.
Ward signed a new multi-fight deal with HBO in 2015. As part of the deal, Ward agreed to move up to the light heavyweight division for an inevitable fight with WBO/WBA/IBF champion Kovalev.
Ward (28-0, 15KOs) is scheduled to return on March 26th in Oakland, when he makes his debut at 175-pounds against undefeated Cuban Sullivan Barrera (17-0, 12KOs).
Kovalev (29-0-1, 26KOs) was in action in January when he easily stopped former champion Jean Pascal in their rematch. He is scheduled to fight again in the summer, potentially in Russia, against an opponent to be determined.
Beyond Barrera, Ward is more than likely going to fight one more time before taking on Kovalev in the fall.
According to HBO analyst Max Kellerman, the winner of that proposed showdown will also have a strong argument to be regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Ward, an Olympic gold medal winner who dominated the super middleweight division, is looking to make a statement by knocking off one of the most dangerous fighters in the world. And Kovalev wants to prove his reputation is well earned by beating a fighter who some believe - if not for his inactivity - would be the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
“There’s a lot of negative sentiments in Andre Ward but he’s a guy who hasn’t lost a fight in 14 years,” explained Kellerman. “If he beats Sergey Kovalev, he has an argument to be the best pound for pound guy. Then you have Kovalev who lives here now who might have an argument if he does the same."
The man currently regarded as the pound-for-pound best is WBC flyweight champion Roman Gonzalez, who captured titles in three weight divisions and makes his next defense against McWilliams Arroyo of Puerto Rico on April 23rd as part of the HBO televised doubleheader with middleweight king Gennady 'GGG' Golovkin facing mandatory challenger Dominic Wade.