3 More Rounds

What’s Next for SOG?

Photo: BET Sports

Photo: BET Sports

When Andre Ward entered the ring in Oakland this past Saturday night, expectations were relatively low in regards to the overall event. After all, the super middleweight champ had been inactive for quite a while, with only one match in the previous 30+ months. Combine that layoff with an opponent who was nearly as overweight as he was overmatched, and the reality was that the boxing world would not be lit on fire no matter how sharp Ward looked….

And then the match began, and it was clear relatively quickly: Ward was as sharp as a freakin’ razor.

Following a tactical round one, SOG got into his rhythm with the jab, which allowed openings for his pinpoint right crosses up the middle. The champ proceeded to finish his combos on-balance with the hook and/or the jab, displaying his snapping reflexes and sergeant-like ring generalship, never allowing his opponent to find any type of consistent success on offense.

After nine rounds of pure domination, it was as clear as day: Andre Ward is still, pound-for-pound, the best prizefighter on the planet not named Floyd.

So, what’s next for the Bay Area superstar? In hindsight, the Super Six tournament that Ward stormed through was both a blessing and a curse to his super middleweight career. While the victories he attained firmly established his status as an elite fighter, he was left with no further rivals in the division to test his skills against. Now, he must look both nor and south on the scale for any relevant opponents that could pose a reasonable challenge to his greatness.

The match that most fanatics would love to see would sure look good on a Las Vegas marquee: SOG vs. GGG! The middleweight titlist would be a fascinating opponent, with the classic puncher vs. boxer dynamic, along with the sales-pitch of two reigning, unbeaten champions squaring off for all the marbles.

Unfortunately, I cant see this one happening…yet.

In the risk-reward matrix of boxing negotiations, it would be hard to envision Ward risking his lofty status against a man who has demonstrated the demonic power and overall aggression that Golovkin has shown in recent bouts. The only way to make the match worth Ward’s while would be for an 8-figure paycheck, and neither man has attained that type of financial demand as of yet. Maybe in 2-3 years, if both men are left standing, this bout would make dollars and sense.

So, just curious: are there any other unbeaten world champions out there, who may be less of a risk for Ward, but would still pose a significant challenge that would get the boxing public talking?

Enter Sergey Kovalev.

The Russian destroyer has shown both dominance as well as vulnerability in his recent bouts, strengthening his case as the best light heavyweight on the planet with conclusive victories, while also allowing himself to get hit with clean shots along the way. The unified 175-pound champ has 3 trophies in his collection that may look very appealing to an athlete like Ward who is hell-bent on reaffirming his overall status in the game.

If all goes well with Kovalev’s mandatory defense in July, expect a swift challenge from Ward’s camp to follow, which will lead to the apex showdown this November on HBO.


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