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How would tonight’s Andre Ward match up against the Joe Calzaghe who beat Mikkel Kessler?
by Geoffrey Ciani – Yes! It has already reached that point. Andre Ward is so good we are forced to look into the past in order to find a competitor worthy of his attention. That is the unique distinction Ward has earned with his total domination of ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson. Andre now finds himself in a similar situation as the Klitschko brothers. They are so dominant, that debating how they would fare against current contenders has become all too predictable. Creating hypothetical match-ups where the Klitschkos are pitted against former heavyweight greats is far more interesting than discussing the length of time it would take Wladimir or Vitali to dispose of someone like Alexander Povetkin. Unfortunately for Andre Ward, super middleweight history does not run as rich or deep as boxing’s most prestigious weight class. Therefore we are forced to look back on guys like Joe Calzaghe or Roy Jones Junior circa 1994 in order to actually find someone who may pose as a perceived challenge to Ward’s still growing talent (no disrespect to Andre Dirrell and Edwin Rodriguez).
Yes! Chad Dawson was weight drained. And yes! Andre Ward probably should have taken the fight at the light heavyweight limit of 175 pounds, but based on what we witnessed tonight, I do not believe it would have mattered whether they fought at 168, 170, 175, or hell, even 190! Ward simply proved to be a cut above Dawson. If the fight took place at light heavyweight Chad may well have possibly avoided the three knockdowns and made it to the final bell, but tactically speaking he had no answers for Ward. Everything Andre did was like a perfectly synchronized harmony. His movement, from head-to-toe, created a remarkable degree of elusiveness that Chad found impenetrable. This was abundantly clear right from the onset when Dawson could not find opportunities to even commit to his best weapon, his jab. Ward easily neutralized it from the get go, no adjustments necessary. Ward seized complete command of the action and dictated the fighting range to his liking throughout the one-sided contest. There was no one thing in particular that troubled Chad. Each and every thing Ward did worked, whether he was jabbing, throwing lead hooks, working the body with both hands, shifting Chad into position, owning the infighting, landing crisp blistering rights, slipping out of harm’s way, tearing brilliant uppercuts, or simply just keeping Chad wherever he wanted him to be. It was complete mastery of his opponent by Ward, and it all stemmed from his footwork and upper body movement, which were enough to neutralize Chad’s jab. Game over.
The scariest thing about Ward is he is still steadily improving from one fight to the next. He is actually getting better! He already all but cleaned out 168 in the Super Six and did so eminently. There is no longer any appeal for a fight with Lucian Bute after he was bludgeoned by Carl Froch. He already beat Mikkel Kessler and Froch, and it is doubtful either one of them would have more success in return bouts. Dirrell and Rodrguez could potentially make decent enough opponents, but it is difficult to envision either one of them representing a true challenge. Making matters even less promising for Ward’s immediate future is the fact that Dawson was perceived as the best of the bunch at 175. Guys like Tavoris Cloud and Jean Pascal could serve as potential future foes, but Ward now sees himself in a spot where it is going to be difficult to even find an opponent that generates even the slightest amount of uncertainty. That is not to say that none of these guys could possibly beat Ward, but they certainly would not be favored to do well against him. Ergo, we are forced to turn to the past: Joe Calzaghe.
How would Ward fare against the best Joe Calzaghe or a prime 168 pound Roy Jones? That is a matter for debate among boxing fans, and whether you believe Ward would be successful against the elites from yesteryear or not, the point is simple: Ward has already achieved the status where not only do such topics and hypothetical scenarios become matters of intrigue for boxing fans, but many actually see him having tremendous success when analyzing and considering these imaginary situations. That leaves the question, how good can Andre Ward become and have we seen the best of him? Because right now, it is difficult to envision anyone south of cruiserweight providing him with the type of test necessary to bring out his very best. Indeed it appears as if the only thing that could stop Andre Ward from succeeding is Andre Ward himself.
Move over Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, your spots are reserved. The future has arrived, and his name is Andre ‘S.O.G.’ Ward.
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