Andre Ward: “I Can Beat a Klitschko”
Ward claims that heavyweight twin-peaks Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko are possible future targets for the current 168-pound world champion…
There are members of the Transnational Boxing Board who believe Andre Ward the best fighter in the world, and that he should rank above Floyd Mayweather on our pound-for-pound list. Those of us who have more conservative blood running through our veins continue to insist that the modestly nicknamed “Son of God” has some more preaching to do with those mothballed fists of his before he is anointed the best fighter in the world of any weight. But in the meantime Ward has decided to do some wide-open preaching with his mouth, claiming in an interview with ESNews that heavyweight twin-peaks Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko are possible future targets for the current 168-pound world champion.
“I want to [challenge for a world heavyweight title], I’ve talked about that since I’ve been a kid,” Ward said, apparently straight-faced. “It seems crazy right now, but I’m not gonna be [one-hundred and] sixty-eight [pounds] forever.”
At six-feet flat, Ward actually has a slight height advantage over the men from the last generation who clambered from primes at super-middleweight all the way up to heavyweight and find success, and Ward seems brilliant enough that comparisons to James Toney and Roy Jones are already reasonable. Ward enjoys some of the same qualities that made the trip north possible for those two men, an elusiveness in the ring that makes bigger men boxable, a healthy dose of self-belief and an apparent knack for winning regardless of who is in the opposite corner.
It is also true that both Toney and Jones benefited to some degree from opponent selection. Neither one of them had to climb into the ring with Lennox Lewis, but rather targeted the more static John Ruiz, a handful for any man who can’t get out of his way or blast him off but lacking the dynamism to close any huge skill-gap. Ward acknowledges this:
“You got to fight the right heavyweight,” he admitted, but added: “As a fighter, I believe I could beat a Klitschko… I’m wired to believe that…I think it could happen, absolutely.”
I have always considered it to be the fighter’s prerogative to lie to himself. He puts his body in harm’s way, something that is deeply counter-intuitive and sometimes for a man to do that, he needs to tell himself the occasional mistruth. Ward is serious about taking on a heavyweight champion at some point in his career, I think, but he surely knows enough to know that either Klitschko would dynamite his ass back to the super-middleweight division with impunity.
More importantly, Ward has indicated that he is well and truly on his way back from the shoulder-surgery that has impaired his ring ambitions this year and that he “gets to hit stuff again,” with October his target for a ring return. The #2 and #3 super-middleweights, Ward victims both, meet next month to decide who will need to tread water until the king’s return, but both Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler will be glad to hear that the American has a timetable in place. The winner of that fight will have done enough to force a rematch, a confrontation both of those men seem hungry for and whilst Ward has been out long enough that he may care to take an easier fight before matching whoever emerges as his #1 contender, it is hard to see that fight being made any later than early next year.
And if Wladimir Klitschko is still champion in early 2015? Son of God meets Dr. Steelhammer has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?