Andre Ward vs. Kelly Pavlik: Delay Could Be an Advantage for Pavlik

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistDecember 19, 2012

Ward's shoulder injury forced a postponement of the Jan. 26 date with Kelly Pavik.
Ward's shoulder injury forced a postponement of the Jan. 26 date with Kelly Pavik.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

When Andre Ward announced earlier this year that his next bout would be against former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, the mainstream opinions of boxing fans were mixed.

Some felt that Pavlik, who is clearly not the same fighter as when he ruled the 160-pound division, was being led to slaughter—still a name but with no realistic chance of victory.

Others believed that "The Ghost" was still a live dog, and with this being likely his last chance, he would go all-out to put in a good performance.

Such is the life of Andre Ward, who is so good that he's already beaten all the major challengers in his weight division and has limited options for lucrative fights. 

The fight was originally scheduled for Jan. 26 at the Galen Center in Los Angeles but had to be postponed when Ward injured his right shoulder during sparring.

A new date has not been announced, though Feb. 23 has been mentioned, and this delay is something, along with the circumstances, that are certain to benefit Pavlik.

Let's be clear: Kelly Pavlik is nowhere near the fighter he was when he spent three years as the middleweight champion. 

His bouts with substance abuse and his lack of commitment to the fight-game have been well publicized and cost him a significant portion of his prime.

Since returning to the sport after a year layoff, he has won four in a row against unspectacular opposition, certainly not on the level of Ward, and he will now be taking as big a step up as possible. 

For Pavlik, any advantage at this stage is a positive. 

Ward has struggled with shoulder issues in the past, according to his promoter Dan Goosen, but nothing as significant as the current injury. 

It has forced him to postpone this bout, disrupted his training and forced him out of his rhythm. It remains to be seen how much this will affect Ward in the fight, but it certainly is a concern.

This is particularly true given the extent of the injury is not yet known. It has been described at this stage as nothing more than discomfort and swelling, but one never knows. 

The fact that the fight has not been given a new date yet could be an indication that Ward's people are hedging their bets on when their fighter will be ready. 

With injuries such at this one, it's often too difficult to know the true extent until the swelling goes down and the healing begins.

Even if it's something not significant, it could continue to nag at the super-middleweight champion, giving Pavlik a slight edge. 

And at this point, with two careers going in clearly opposite directions, any advantage is welcome.