The Galen Center in downtown Los Angeles will host Andre Ward‘s next boxing match this coming January 26th, as he defends his super Middleweight titles against Kelly Pavlik. Ward is looking for Pavlik’s name recognition to help raise his own ‘Q Score’ so to speak, as Ward has failed to capture the imagination of the boxing public despite being an Olympic Gold Medalist and an undefeated World Champion. A win over Pavlik might help, but Pavlik has harmed his own cause in recent years, and Ward is likely to be a heavy favorite at the sportsbooks when the lines do hit.
Ward recently won the SHOWTIME Super 6 tournament, where he took on and took out the best Middleweights in the world, including Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch. He is coming off a destruction of Chad Dawson, a light heavyweight who was considered one of the top 15 or so fighters in the world. This has propelled Ward to the top of the pound for pound lists, but it has not helped him with the mainstream fans. Even Froch, who Ward methodically broke down in the Super 6 finals, rehabilitated his name with a huge victory over Lucien Bute and is a much bigger draw.
Pavlik is 40-2 in his career, and he is 4-0 since his career defining April 2010 loss to Sergio Martinez. But the two years since that loss have seen Pavlik publicly go through family and personal problems, several cancelled fights and alcohol rehab. Pavlik does seem to have retained some of his power at 168 lbs, but is probably better suited to 160. Regardless he represents a smaller man than Ward as an opponent, and Ward just took out a legit bigger guy in Dawson.
Ward’s resume is sterling, and he is well spoken and a good role model. One observer who knows Ward observed ‘he needs to get arrested for beating people up, or to have a video go viral of him burning hundred dollar bills in strip clubs’. His promoter Dan Goossen was content the fight will be in Los Angeles, away from Ward’s Oakland base. Goossen is convinced this will expose Ward to a new audience, one that is more passionate about boxing.
Ward will have a chance to shine against Pavlik. Pavlik is a big puncher, even at this higher weight class. Despite being the smaller man, Pavlik is unlikely to have the speed to catch up with Ward, so this match looks like it will be Pavlik swinging and missing allday, or at least until Ward mercifully KO’s him.
The bout will air on HBO, and features a Heavyweight fight as a co-main event that pits Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne, and look for the line to start popping up at the sportsbooks throughout December.