Andre Ward: Number One, Pound For Pound?
Andre Ward’s demolition of reigning light heavyweight champion, Chad Dawson has vaulted him near the top of many fight fans’ pound-for-pound lists. Some even have Ward moving all the way to the top spot past perennial kingpin, Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
I wanted to get perspective from someone inside Ward’s camp, so I reached out to strength and conditioning coach, Edward Jackson, and asked him if Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) was truly the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport today.
Not yet, says Jackson.
“We’re still trying to get better. Until Floyd leaves, we really don’t feel like we’re number one. We call him an old man for being thirty-five years old, but the old man can still fight!”
Edwards says he’s happy Ward is starting to receive the recognition his fighter deserves, though he’s not sure it will translate into respect from Ward’s opponents. Jackson says everyone who faces Ward tends to underrate the undefeated champion before they step in the ring with him.
How could someone like Ward be taken lightly? Easy, says Jackson. It’s all about perception.
“He’s not as flashy as some other guys, so they don’t think he’ll be a problem until they get into the ring with him. Once they do, they realize it is way different than what they thought.”
I asked Jackson what could be so different. After all, I reasoned, Ward has put on some terrifically impressive performances as of late.
“A lot of people underrate his physicality,” he said. “They look at him as a humble, church-going guy who talks to everybody and they take that as weakness, but in the ring he is vicious. He hits harder than people think. He’s more physical than they think. He’s definitely meaner than people think.”
Edwards would know. He’s been with Ward since the fighter was just seventeen-years-old, helping hone the TBRB-recognized champion, alongside head trainer Virgil Hunter, into the best fighter he can be.
“Andre’s not a talker,” he said. “He’s a doer.”
Now, with Ward coming into what appears to be his prime, Jackson said he and the rest of Team Ward are enjoying the fruits of their labor. He reminded me that after only eleven or twelve professional fights, some of the more fickly fight fans and media members were already calling for Ward to step up to a world title bout. Ward’s team didn’t listen to it, and now they feel as though their patience has paid off.
“We look like geniuses now,” he told me.
Next up for Ward appears to be former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. Jackson told me Ward will be ready for the best version of Pavlik ever seen, and that his world class ability would not go overlooked.
“We’ll prepare for the Pavlik that beat Jermain Taylor twice,” he told me. “Pavlik can still punch. He’s got an excellent trainer in Robert Garcia, and he’s still a dangerous guy.”
A win over Pavlik would be a notch on his resume, but it shouldn’t vault him further up anyone’s pound-for-pound list. Still, should Andre Ward continue to be as successful as he’s been thus far in his career, he should remain in the conversation for years to come.