If we’re being completely honest, 2014 was not a great year for marquee match ups in the squared circle. While many of the best fighters in the game took to the ring last year, the best of them seldom took on someone their own figurative size. Kovalev, Golovkin, Mayweather, Pacquiao, etc., all took on fighters beneath their station (Pac/Algieri, Golovkin/everybody), just about over the hill (Kovalev/Hopkins), or someone they had already beat (Mayweather/Maidana).
As we crest the New Year, we are again filled with hope over the Lucy and the football scenario that has become Mayweather/Pacquiao. To be sure, that is the fight most fans want to see. We’ve certainly waited well beyond the point of Job-like endurance. Pacman has engaged the Money Man in a way he never has before, so hope springs eternal, I suppose.
Still, while we continue to hope against hope that Mayweather will finally give us what we want (does that ever happen, by the way?), there is one other fight I would put on the Floyd/Manny level. Maybe not in terms of glitz and cachet, but definitely in regards to competitiveness and potential hardcore fight fan pleasure.
That would be Gennady Golovkin vs. Andre Ward.
A matchup of the electrifying Triple G vs. the SOG has tremendous potential. Golovkin (31-0, 28 KOs) has steamrolled his way through a succession of lesser competition and is ready for a big step up. Ward has been out of the ring for 11 months, but has proven himself to be a great fighter with high quality wins over Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler, and Chad Dawson. None of which was particularly close. If Ward can finally loosen himself of his dispute with Goossen promotions and get back in the ring, the two fighters can provide each other with something they both want and need.
In the case of Golovkin, he has to be as tired as we are of watching him blow through opponents like a full force gale. It’s not his fault, of course. No one wants to fight the ferocious Kazakh. Still, if Golovkin wants to graduate to PPV fights, he needs better scalps in his bag. A February 21 fight against Brit Martin Murray is fine enough, but it doesn’t get him where he wants to be. Not even close.
In the case of Ward, the long layoffs have affected his standing in the world of boxing. The former Olympic gold medalist may be at his physical peak, but it’s slipping away. Ward was on the precipice of graduating to PPV bouts himself until his disappearing act. Now both men have arrived at remarkably similar plateaus, even if they reached them in completely different ways.
To be clear, there are significant hurdles to getting this fight in before year’s end. Ward has to get free of his contractual issues and Golovkin would have to be willing to move from middleweight to Ward’s super-middleweight level. As well, Golovkin wants to be a PPV star, and he wants it now. It’s unlikely that a fight with Ward would go beyond pay cable and into the PPV stratosphere.
Golovkin just as recently as Christmas stated he wants to hold off on Ward and instead focus on a fighter with PPV potential after his likely dispatching of Murray. Namely, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Golovkin told Round by Round Boxing, “Yes, for pay-per-view fight. Chavez Jr, he’s a pay-per-view fighter. Andre Ward, he’s not a pay-per-view fighter. Maybe in the future, yeah.” While GGG is correct that a scrap with Chavez Jr. would quite possibly do well on PPV, I find this endlessly depressing. The idea of Golovkin making a fight with the relentlessly undisciplined Chavez Jr., in a fight where the biggest bit of drama will probably be whether Chavez Jr. can make weight or not is deeply unsatisfying. That is the world we live in, though.
Still, I believe all is not lost. If Golovkin handles Murray and the presumed Chavez Jr. with the ease I expect him to, that could still leave room for a third fight in the calendar year for GGG–who likes to keep busy (3 fights in 2014, 4 in 2013). Besides, Ward will likely need and want a tune up or two before exchanging pleasantries with Golovkin. In my sweetest of dreams, this would place a potential SOG vs. GGG fight somewhere in November or December. That would be one hell of a way to close out the year.
Can you imagine the furious fists of Gennady Golovkin going up against the toughness and guile of Andre Ward? If both fighters are in peak form, the contrast in styles could create a fight for the ages. The aggressive, high volume approach of GGG vs. the counter-punching and boxing skills of Ward? The mouth salivates just thinking of it. It should for both fighters too. Whoever would walk out of the ring with their arms held high would make a powerful statement. For Golovkin, it would take his potential to fruition. He would be able to say he has fully arrived. For Ward, it would say “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” These are results both fighters have to crave.
For us fight fans, it would be a bountiful feast. And one we richly deserve after the sparse buffet pickings of 2014.