After being forced to postpone his originally scheduled title defense against Kelly Pavlik due to a shoulder injury, Andre Ward has cancelled the bout in order to undergo surgery to repair his right shoulder.
Cameron Dunkin, Pavlik’s manager, said he received a call Wednesday night from Pavlik’s Top Rank Boxing promoter Bob Arum, who confirmed that Ward – Oakland’s native son and reigning super middleweight kingpin – would be sidelined for several months following surgery.
Dunkin said that he and Arum then discussed what to do with Pavlik:
“So I don’t know what we’re gonna do, but we’re going to move forward and get Kelly a fight and get him back in the ring.”
The bout was originally scheduled to headline the Jan. 26 edition of HBO’s World Championship Boxing, which would have also been the first live boxing event to be held at the Galen Center on the University of Southern California campus.
Ward was forced to postpone the bout after he injured his shoulder during a sparring session in November. He threw a punch, but immediately stopped after feeling a tweak. Though he thought the injury wasn’t serious, he decided to visit a doctor and have an MRI performed.
It was revealed that despite no tears or serious damage to his rotator cuff, there was a lot of inflammation and swelling.
Ward (26-0, 14 KO) was advised to not use his arm for a few weeks and his promoter, Dan Goossen, hoped to reschedule the bout for either Feb. 23 or the first two weeks of March. Goossen declined to comment on the situation.
Despite his fighter being a huge underdog against Ward, Dunkin said he got former middleweight champion Pavlik (40-2, 34 KO) the bout because it’s what Pavlik wanted:
“… that is my job, to create opportunities for my clients. Kelly told me that fighting Ward was what he wanted to do. He said to get the fight done, so sometimes that’s what you gotta do.”
The 28-year-old Ward, an Olympic gold medalist and one of boxing’s pound-for-pound elite, made headlines in boxing by winning Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic, defeating heavy favorite Mikkel Kessler in November 2009 to win the WBA title and successfully defending it against Allan Green, Sakio Bika and Arthur Abraham.
In the finals last December, Ward unified the WBA and WBC titles by defeating Carl Froch in dominant fashion – all while fighting with a fractured right hand he suffered during his final sparring session prior to the fight.
Though the fracture limited him to just one fight in 2012, Ward delivered a masterful performance on Sept. 8, dismantling the naturally bigger light heavyweight kingpin Chad Dawson in 10 rounds at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.
The 30-year-old Pavlik ruled as WBC, WBO and Ring Magazine middleweight champion from September 2007 to April 2010, successfully defending his titles three times before dropping them to Sergio Martinez via bloody unanimous decision.
Pavlik’s only other loss came in lopsided fashion at the hands of ring legend Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins in October 2008 in a non-title bout.
Pavlik, who was born in Youngstown, Ohio, has won four straight fights under the tutelage of trainer Robert Garcia. The bout with Ward would have been Pavlik’s first high-profile bout since the Martinez fight.