Andre Ward has spoken before about his desire to some day make the move up to heavyweight and challenge for gold. After he controversially dispatched light-heavyweight rival Sergey Kovalev in the eighth round on Saturday night in Las Vegas, ‘SOG’ once again teased fans with the idea. However, as he has done in the past, Ward added that he would only make the ambitious leap for the “right fight”.
Speaking to ESPN last November, Ward said that battles with behemoths Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua could not be categorized as such.
“There’s certain guys you don’t mess with and those guys are too big,” Ward said. “I respect them, but you got to find the right opponent and the right situation. So maybe one day, maybe not, but not those two.”
However, Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter sees things differently.
During the post-fight press conference on Saturday night, Hill told the assembled boxing media that he has seen things in Joshua’s style that make him think that his man can overcome a six-inch height disadvantage, an eleven-inch reach disadvantage and a weight disadvantage probably in excess of 50lbs.
(Joshua weighed over 250lbs for his fight with Wladimir Klitschko in April, while Ward weighed 175lbs ahead of his bout with Kovalev. As Ward cuts some weight to make the light-heavyweight limit, however, the real disparity in weight is unlikely to be that dramatic. Still, it would be very significant.)
“Fighting a bigger man, it doesn’t have to do with size – it has to do with his attributes and their attributes. If you were to single out one thing that would make it a competitive fight for yourself, you take that chance – because that’s what he’s here for,” Hunter said(via Boxing Scene).
“I’d like to see him fight Anthony Joshua. I’m not playing, I’m serious. I think would be a very interesting fight. I know you’ve got a lot of people who say ‘oh, that’s suicide.’ But there are some things about Anthony Joshua that I see, that makes me think he can outbox Anthony Joshua.”
“I see him outboxing Anthony Joshua, there are some things about Joshua that I see. He’s a good kid, I know him, but I just see things with him in particular. And he’s the best, but styles make fights. It would be a waste of time to go to cruiser. Just leapfrog it and go for it all.”
The great Roy Jones Jr., who started his career as a middleweight, famously jumped up to heavyweight from light-heavyweight and claimed the WBA title back in 2003. It was a phenomenal achievement, but even the mercurial Jones, in or around his prime at the time, chose his opponent very carefully. He was giving away only three inches in height, four in reach and just 33lbs in weight to John Ruiz. And Ruiz was not the fighter nor the puncher that Joshua is.
“You’ve got me sweating,” Ward said, after his trainer had finished stunning everyone present. “He’s always setting the bar high. That’s the kind of stuff that I’ve been dealing with since I’ve been a kid. That’s the essence of our team right there. That man will make me believe something that I haven’t even thought of right there. Anthony Joshua, really? But it will make perfect sense to him,”
If Ward does decide to bypass cruiserweight, which would make financial sense, there is a much better option for him up at heavyweight. New Zealand’s Joseph Parker, who holds the WBO strap in boxing’s traditional marquee division, isn’t as tall as fellow titlists Joshua or Wilder and he has a much shorter reach, at just 76 inches. He is thick and strong, weighing in at over 245lbs for his last fight in May, but while a decent puncher, he doesn’t carry the same scary power as Joshua and Wilder. He also appears to be significantly less talented.
Still, for a fighter who spent most of his career at super-middleweight, Parker would provide a tough test.