Kellerman says Andre Ward beats ALL light heavyweights if he comes back
By Robert Addams: ESPN commentator Max Kellerman says he thinks 35-year-old Andre “SOG’ Ward would beat ALL of the current top light heavyweights if he were to come back today to resume his boxing career. In order for Andre to beat all the top fighters at 175, it would mean that he needs to be able to beat these guys:
- Artur Beterbiev
- Dmitry Bivol
- Oleksandr Gvozdyk
- Sergey Kovalev
- Saul Canelo Alvarez
- Marcus Browne
There’s a good chance that Ward would lose to all of those light heavyweights now if he were to come back, including Kovalev. Being out of the ring for 2 years is a lifetime in boxing, and Ward never really did show that he was an elite light heavyweight. He moved up to 175 to fight Kovalev in November 2016, and beat him by a controversial 12 round unanimous decision by the scores 114-113, 114-113 and 114-113. Kellerman needs to realize that time marches on for fighters. They don’t go into suspended animation where time stops for them when they retire.
Ward is now two years older than he was in 2017 when he won a controversial fight against Kovalev. Even if you could freeze that version of Ward and bring him out for Beterbiev to fight right now, it would probably badly for Ward. Beterbiev is too strong, and too could of inside fighter. Ward would be forced to fight Beterbiev from the outside, and that’s not going to work. Ward doesn’t have the power at 175 to compete with big hitters like Beterbiev. Without wrestling, Ward would be lost at light heavyweight, and Beterbiev is the wrong guy for that tactic.
Kellerman: Andre Ward would be the favorite against all the light heavyweights
“I think Andre [Ward] is the favorite against all [light heavyweights],” said Kellerman to fighthype. “You know who the best pound-for-pound fighters are as pros? It’s the best international amateurs unless it’s someone like Manny Pacquiao. Andre Ward was an undefeated amateur fighter, Olympic gold medalist that hadn’t lost since he was 14-years-old.
“There’s a reason for that, right? When he got to the pros, he won all his fights. I think he would figure out a way to beat all these guys. That doesn’t mean he does it. You fight the top guys one after another, eventually someone has your number. I would make him a favorite against all those guys [at light heavyweight],” said Kellerman.
With Kellerman and Ward both being on ESPN working as commentators, it makes you wonder if Max is giving him a lot of favorable press due to him being a co-worker. However, if Kellerman truly believes that Ward beats all the top light heavyweights in the division now, he should encourage him to make a comeback and fight Beterbiev right away. That’s probably not going to happen. If Ward did come back, he probably wouldn’t take on Beterbiev, because there are bigger fights than that for him.
Beterbiev, Bivol or Gvozdyk aren’t the best options for Ward
Ward could make more money fighting Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin or Anthony Joshua. His chances of beating of them would likely be low at this point. Yeah, a young and active Ward in the prime of his career would likely beat Canelo and Golovkin, but he’s not young and not in his prime, is he? Ward obviously would be the underdog against all those guys, and especially against Joshua.
Since Ward never really proved that he was cut out to fight at 175 long term, it would be a bad idea for him to come back to that division age 35. If Ward fights Beterbiev, it’s very, very likely that he gets knocked out within six round. He couldn’t use the grappling to save him against Beterbiev, because the guy is too strong and he hits too hard in close.
Beterbiev too good of an inside fighter for Ward
Unlike Kovalev, Beterbiev knows how to fight in close. There are some guys that Ward could probably beat at 175, but not any of the current champions. He’s been out of the ring for too long, and he looked poor in his last 2 fights. Kovalev wouldn’t allow Ward to hold all night like he did in their first fight.
I don’t think a fight between Ward and Joshua would sell unless he moved up to heavyweight and showed the boxing world that he’s for real. For fans that remember how Ward looked in his two fights with Kovalev, it wasn’t the fighter that we remembered from his best years. Ward looked depleted, and not capable of beating Kovalev from the outside.
His rematch with Kovalev was quite controversial with boxing fans thinking he stopped him from low blows. For Andre Ward to beat the elite guys at 175, he would need to be able to fight them, and not wrestle for 12 rounds. We don’t know what would have happened in Ward’s rematch with Kovalev if the referee had ruled that he had hit him low in the 8th. The fight would have kept on going, and it’s anyone’s guess who would have won.
Kellerman discusses his fast twitch theory on sports athletes
“In all sports, it comes down to fast twitches [muscle fiber]. Who’s got those extra fast twitches,” said Kellerman. “Those are the guys that you think are different level athletes, and the ones without that like Beterbiev have to compensate for a lack of lightning speed and reflexes with physical strength, high IQs, timing, and experience. But those guys are harder to identify. Only experience shows you that. The guys that are easy to identify are the lightning fast guys,” said Kellerman.
In boxing some fighters do well with fast hands, but it doesn’t always work that way. Obviously, Beterbiev showed that it doesn’t matter if you’re hands are slower. Gennady Golovkin wins despite not having a lot of speed.
Could Ward defeat Beterbiev by wrestling him for 12 rounds?
Ward spent most of the fight wrestling/clinching Kovalev rather than throwing punches. It was an ugly fight to watch, and nothing like what we saw with Beterbiev in his victory over Gvozdyk last Friday. It mostly wrestling from Ward, and he didn’t show much inside fighting ability. Ward’s approach to wrestle rather than throw punches would put him at a major disadvantage againtst Beterbiev, Bivol or any of the good light heavyweights that are fit,
Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) hasn’t fought since his rematch with Kovalev on June 17, 2017. That was a fight that ended with Ward landing three punches that appeared to be all low blows.
Did Ward retire to avoid fighting Beterbiev and Bivol?
Some boxing fans believe that Ward retired in 2017 because he didn’t want to risk his unbeaten record against Beterbiev and Bivol. Had Ward continued his career in 2017, he would had pressure on him from boxing fans to fight Beterbiev and Bivol. Given that that Ward had seemingly lose hand speed and mobility at age 33, his main tool at that was his grappling on the inside. As we saw with Beterbiev, he’s too strong on the inside to be mauled by fighters.
Ward would likely get overpowered if he tried to wrestle Beterbiev into a state of exhaustion, which is what some believe was his whole game plan in his fights with Kovalev. Ward got the worst of it when Kovalev was on the outside.
Teofimo Lopez picks Ward to beat Beterbiev
“Artur had a good game plan. He knew the Nail [Gvozdyk] was going to try and out-box him, stay on the outside, get his points, and get his punches in and get his punches in,” said Teofimo Lopez to fighthype about the Beterbiev vs. Gvozdyk fight. “Andre Ward,” said Lopez when asked if Ward would beat Beterbiev if he came back.
Teofimo is perhaps remembering Ward from what he did earlier in his career when he fought at 168, and beat the likes of Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler. Those fights took place 9 to 10 years ago in 2010 and 2011. Ward was no longer the same fighter he was back then when he fought Kovalev in 2016 and 2017, and did a lot of wrestling on the inside.
If Ward came back, he would likely go back down to 168 because he wouldn’t match-up well against Bivol or Beterbiev. If Kovalev loses his November 2 fight against Saul Canelo Alvarez, there won’t be any point in Ward fighting him.