Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) scored another victory over Sergey Kovalev (30-2-1, 26 KOs) last weekend, but once again the result was not without controversy. Ward landed a series of low blows in the eighth round which caused Kovalev to slump over the ropes, leading to a fight stoppage.
The Kovalev camp plans to protest the result with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, but it’s unlikely anything will result from it. As far as Ward is concerned, it’s time to move on. During the post-fight press conference, he floated the idea of moving up to cruiserweight or even heavyweight.
Who’s next for the number one pound-for-pound fighter?
Odds to be Andre Ward’s next opponent
Adonis Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs): 5/1
After defeating Andrzej Fonfara in his most recent fight, Stevenson declared, “I’m the greatest at 175. I don’t have to call out anybody.”
I don’t think even Stevenson believes that. Ward is The Ring Magazine’s number one pound-for-pound fighter and he’s the WBA, IBF, and WBO light-heavyweight champ. Stevenson only holds the WBC belt.
If Ward wants to unify the entire division, he’ll have to take on Stevenson. It won’t be a big-money fight, but if he’s hellbent on becoming the undisputed champ at 175, this is a fight he’ll have to make.
Gennady Golovkin (37-0, 33 KOs): 7/1
If Golovkin manages to beat Canelo Alvarez in September, then a catchweight-fight between the two undefeated champs is definitely in the cards. The two have toyed with the idea of a super-middleweight fight in the past but nothing ever came of it. That’s likely to change, for a couple reasons; even if there aren’t any titles on the line, a fight between two of the biggest names in boxing would rake in a lot of buys. Plus, at this point in their careers, Ward and Golovkin are likely more concerned with cementing their legacies than acquiring belts, and this fight could do just that for both.
Oleksandr Usyk (12-0, 10 KOs): 19/1
The undefeated WBO cruiserweight champ is the man to beat if Ward makes the leap to 200 lb. The Olympic Gold medalist has struggled to land a big fight, despite his unblemished record and two title defenses.
With a significant size and power advantage, Usyk would be a tough challenge for Ward. If he’s interested in becoming a two-division champion then this is a fight to consider. But it’s definitely a risky move.
Murat Gassiev (24-0, 17 KOs): 25/1
The second-ranked cruiserweight is another option at 200 lbs. The 23-year-old Gassiev currently holds the IBF title and boasts an impressive unbeaten record. Like Usyk, he’s still waiting for a big-name fight to really prove himself. He stands a full four inches taller than Ward, but he’s nowhere near as polished a fighter.
Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19 KOs): 50/1
Ward declared his willingness to move up to heavyweight, but how serious was he?
If he’s going to take such a risk, then he may as well fight the biggest name in the division. Joshua has won all of his professional fights by way of knockout, most notably knocking out Wladimir Klitschko in his most recent bout.
A fight between Ward and Joshua would be a huge event, but I don’t think Ward is willing to take the risk.