IBF/WBA/WBO light heavyweight champion Andre “SOG” Ward doesn’t rule out a fight in the future against IBF/WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua , who he rates as definitely beatable as anyone when the time comes for them to face each other. Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) just finished knocking out former 175 lb. champion Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev in the 8th round on June 17 in their rematch in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ward hasn’t given up on the idea of fighting Joshua for his world heavyweight titles. Ward has to bide his time while he waits for Joshua to defend his titles in 2 titles in back to back defenses against mandatory challengers Kubrat Pulev and Luis Ortiz. If Joshua is still a heavyweight champion by the time those 2 fights are done, then we could be seeing a fight between him and the talented Ward.
The 6-foot Ward, 33, would obviously have to deal with the huge 6’6” Joshua’s height and close to 60 pound weight advantage over him, but it’s been done before. Boxing great Jack Dempsey was little more than a cruiserweight in terms of his size when he took on and trounced the 6’6 1/2” Jess Willard in a 3rd round blowout for the World heavyweight title on July 4, 1919.
The 6’1” Dempsey weighed in at 187 lbs. against the 245 lb. Willard, and he still gave the giant the beating of his life in that fight. The dimensions of those two fighters are roughly the same as Ward and Joshua. In terms of fighting style and physique, Joshua is more like Primo Carnera than Willard.
The 6’5 ½”, 260 lb. Carnera was known for his heavily muscled frame that he used to bulldoze his much smaller opponents during his 18-year pro career from 1928 to 1946. Carnera had a huge 50 lb. weight advantage over Max Baer in their fight on June 14, 1934, and Baer destroyed hi in 11 rounds. Likewise, Joe Louis, weighing 196 lbs., stopped the 260 lb. Carnera in a 6th round knockout on June 25, 1935.
“He is the heavyweight champion of the world, he deserves that respect,” said Ward to Sky Sports News in discussing a fight against Joshua ”Of course my team and myself, I believe I can beat anybody, so we’ll see. Time will tell. Nothing is off the table. I have got a lot of respect for Joshua, he is the heavyweight champ,” said Ward.
Joshua was shown up by Wladimir Klitschko in his last fight to be a limited fighter in terms of his cardiovascular system. Wladimir had Joshua entirely gassed out after just 6 rounds. Ward obviously saw that fight and noted the weakness in the stamina of Joshua. Ward dealt with the same thing with his last opponent Kovalev gassing out in in consecutive fights against him after 5 rounds.
Ward took full advantage of the 34-year-old Kovalev’s stamina issues by hitting him repeatedly in the bread basket with power shots, causing him to wilt like a plant. The referee Tony Weeks had no choice but to step in and save Kovalev from being planted on the deck. That was the second fight between Ward and Kovalev. In their first fight last November, Ward wore Kovalev down with hard body shots that had him fighting on fumes in the last six rounds.
Kovalev would later admit that he gassed out. But he didn’t give Ward the credit that he deserved for causing him to fade by throwing his body shots and forcing a fast pace. If Joshua gasses out against Ward, you can bet that he’s going to be taking shots to the midsection in the same way that Kovalev was.
It doesn’t matter how much muscle weight Joshua is carrying on his 250 lb. frame, it he gets hit to the body enough by Ward, we could be seeing Dempsey-Willard and Carnera-Louis. I’m just saying. Boxing is an aerobic sport involving cardio fitness along with brain power, and skills. If Joshua doesn’t have the cardio to handle the pace that Ward sets, it won’t matter if he’s carrying a 60 lb. weight advantage.
“I’m not playing, I am serious,” said Ward’s trainer Virgil Hunter. “I believe he could outbox Anthony Joshua. It would be a waste of time to go to the cruisers (cruiserweights), we should go for it all.”
So there it is. Hunter believes that Ward can out-box Joshua and beat him. Hunter isn’t the type to just flap his gums for the heck of it just to hear himself talk. If Hunter is saying it, he believes it. He sees War as having the talent to beat Joshua, period.
Joshua is going to need a popular dance partner once he gets done with Pulev and Ortiz. The only popular guy left in the heavyweight division now that Wladimir has retired is WBC heavyweight champion Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder, who has to take care of business against his WBC mandatory Bermane Stiverne. Wilder is an option for Joshua in 2018 if he wants to take that fight, but he would be better off to face Ward while he’s still around. Wilder has got a lot of time. He’s not going anywhere.
Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn wants setup a fight between his Matchroom Sport stable fighter Dillian Whyte and Wilder. It looks to me like Hearn is hoping Whyte will beat Wilder so he can get him out of Joshua’s hair as a threat to him. Whyte is a long shot to beat Wilder at best. I think Wilder will take care of Whyte without any problems.
Joshua would be better off fighting Andre Ward first because he’s winding down his boxing career. If Joshua make the Ward fight, it would be a big stadium fight like the Klitschko fight. They could stick the Joshua-Ward fight at Wembley Stadium and make huge cash. It would be like Dempsey vs. Willard all over again. I just hope for Joshua’s sake that he does a better job than Willard did against Dempsey. That fight was such a horrible mismatch. Dempsey had too much speed for Willard. I suspect that a fight between Joshua and Ward would be the same thing.
There’s still a possibility that Ward and Tony Bellew could wind up facing each other. It would be a good warm up fight for Ward to get the British boxing public prepared for him to fight Joshua at Wembley Stadium in a mega-fight.