Andre Ward has run through the super middleweight division at this point, and even beat top light heavyweight Chad Dawson (who moved down a division for the fight) on September 8. The 28-year-old Oakland native understands that the pickings are getting slim in the 168-pound division, and has designs on moving up in weight soon, as he told The Boxing Lab podcast.
"I don't know if it's going to be my next fight [moving up to 175], but I'm just excited about that next challenge and I think my body is going to be happy about having that extra weight on me as well. I think I'm going to be a lot stronger."
Ward (26-0, 14 KO) would be favored -- and probably pretty heavily -- against anyone at 175 right now if he did move up in weight for his next fight, but he also mentioned the possibility of facing a familiar name at 168 next.
"I mean you got guys like Kelly Pavlik out there. I know he's got one more shot left in him and he's mentioned my name and not disrespectfully. He's just saying he wants another crack at a top guy so Kelly is definitely an option. He's got a name and he's still a tough fighter."
Ward is being respectful, and I do consider myself a Kelly Pavlik fan, but seeing Pavlik at 168 pounds this year in wins over Aaron Jaco, Scott Sigmon, and Will Rosinsky, is there really anyone out there who thinks he's a legit test for Andre Ward at this point? I'm not even totally writing off the possibility that -- OK, yes, I am. I don't think Pavlik would ever have given Ward much of a fight, and I don't think he can now.
And again, I like Pavlik. I think he might have some good stuff left in him if he keeps working. But this is a process, and going from Will Rosinsky (a solid fighter) to Andre Ward (among the very elite in the world) is a pretty massive difference. Pavlik might as well go from jumping a creek on his Schwinn Predator to jumping the Grand Canyon.
The move for Ward really might be to head up to 175. He can do no more at 168 that isn't predictable, quite frankly. He's beaten fellow titlists Froch and Abraham; he's beaten Mikkel Kessler; nobody has any doubt he'd beat the likes of Pavlik (I'm assuming, but I think that's safe). There's just no more to achieve there, and the move to 175 will come sooner or later, anyway. Make it now. There's some talent up there, there are some potentially interesting fights, and he'll get the pick of the litter, most likely, given his status at 168, with the sanctioning bodies, and with HBO backing him now.