Andre Ward vs Kelly Pavlik: Can the 'Ghost' Pull Off the Upset?

Written by Christopher Wirsing at Oct 17, 2012 - 04:37PM ET in News
Andre Ward's camp is negotiating to fight Kelly Pavlik, a relatively big name in boxing.

Ward vs Pavlik may not be pay-per-view quality but the former lineal middleweight champion would be a significant opponent for Ward. Kelly Pavlik's aggressive style has made him very fan friendly over the years despite the fact he only has a few significant wins.

Pavlik annihilated Edison Miranda (a fighter that Ward beat by decision) and he beat Jermain Taylor twice.

The Taylor victories were highly significant because Jermain beat long reigning legend in Bernard Hopkins twice and became to the RING Magazine Middleweight Champion.

Essentially, Kelly Pavlik was the man who beat the man at middleweight prior to his loss to Sergio Martinez.

After winning a tournament that was packed with talent prior to stopping light heavyweight king Chad Dawson earlier this year, Andre Ward's confidence is seemingly at its peak. He has already defeated fighters who are more technically sound than Pavlik. And since Ward has shown to be such a student of the game, I am sure that he will be well-prepared for Pavlik should they meet later this year. Heading into the bout, he will know exactly what he has to do to win.

Pictured: Kelly Pavlik lands a left uppercut on Will Rosinsky in July 2012
Courtesy of Chris Farina, Top Rank

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I hope Robert Garcia, Pavlik's new trainer, is studying Ward clsoely because Kelly is going to need a supreme strategy to win this fight. Kelly is a fighter who works behind a solid jab, walks his opponents down, and gets them out of there with brutal power shots. The problem is that he doesn't know how to do much anything else.

When a good counter-puncher starts picking him off, Kelly Pavlik continues to stand at the end of his opponent's punches and push forward. This is why he was beaten in one-sided fashion by Bernard Hopkins and Sergio Martinez. When they took Pavlik's jab away, there was no Plan B, C, or D.


Pavlik also doesn't feint much, can't beat an elite fighter with his footwork, and doesn't keep his range with his jab. Although Pavlik was tall for a middleweight, it doesn't take a tall fighter to use range effectively. It is more about controlling the range and keeping your opponent at the end of your punches. We saw the shorter Martinez do it easily against Pavlik.

Kelly's jab is a come-forward jab and it works as long as he is landing it. When counter punchers like Hopkins and Martinez can effectively time his jab, they slip it and counter with hard, flush shots because Pavlik is already coming forward. He essentially falls right into the counter.

It's ok to step into it when you are landing it easily to put more sting on it - But when you fight a guy who knows how to defend a jab, you have to stay balanced when you throw it so you don't fall into counter shots.

Pictured: Andre Ward, left, looks to set up a combination against Carl Froch in December 2011 
Courtesy Goossen Tutor

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Pavlik has already been beaten by lesser fighters than Ward in Hopkins and Martinez. In those two losses, we discovered that when Pavlik has trouble finding his opponent with his jab, he gets confused. And his defense is not good enough to keep him from getting hit. In both of those fights, Pavlik couldn't find his man with the jab. As a result, he stood in the pocket with both of them and got picked apart with quick combinations.

When Kelly is in with a true technican with superior technique and faster hands who can make him miss, like Andre Ward, he becomes a sitting duck.

Expect Kelly Pavlik to have trouble finding Ward. If he keeps pressing forward despite falling short with his jab, he will begin to take flush shots. Ward's speed will devastate Pavlik and in the later rounds Kelly won't be able to defend himself. As a result, I see a stoppage on cuts or Garcia having to step in and save Kelly.


The event will sell if they promote if promoted right. Expect to see a HBO 24/7 series or something similar to hype this bout. Both fighters are pretty well known and liked so fans will want to see it, and may pay to see it.  But will it draw pay-per-view numbers? Maybe.

Between Arum and Goosen, they should be able to figure out a way to get mainstream America's interest. In the fight itself, Pavlik doesn't have much of a chance. I can see him taking a beating in this one. If it happens like that, fans will love it and Ward's stock will rise because boxing fans prefer blood and knockouts to bouts that are chessmatches.

This is probably the perfect fight for Andre Ward right now.
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Main Image - Pavlik pic courtesy of Adrian Hernandez, MyUniversalSports.com


Hopkins vs Pavlik Highlights (2008) - Expect Ward vs Pavlik to be very similar


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