“Keep the Heckler close, you know them smokers’ll test ya/ But like 52 cards went out, I’m through dealing/ Now 52 bars come out, now you feel em/ Now 52 cars roll out, remove ceiling/ In case 52 broads come out”
Jay-Z, in an excerpt from ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’
Ah ya gotta love code hip-hop speak, like this classic frame from Jigga’s infectious hit. But those lines would come up short if you replaced 52 with 50. It would no longer have any rhyme or reason.
I can probably think of at least 52 reasons why a partnership between Jay-Z and Andre Ward could be beneficial to the business of boxing, and just two reasons why it could be a disaster…
Jay-Z and Andre Ward.
Without those two doing things to (eh-mmm) ward off the hecklers, then the smokers will surely test them and fire warning shots. The public has been dealt a hand, but now they have to come to the table and deal. They have to show their hands or get called for bluffing, because slick talk can’t beat action at the table. The cars won’t leave the garage, and there’s no possibility that the chicks will ménage.
Oh I’m sorry… Was that hotter than anything in ’50 Shades of Gray’?
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Here’s the deal. RING Magazine has just stripped Andre Ward of his status as super middleweight champion. In fact, they’ve removed him from the pound-for-pound rankings entirely because he left them no choice.
Ward has technically not done anything of significance since stopping Chad Dawson in 10 technically masterful rounds back in September 2012. You could even say he hasn’t done anything of true significance since beating Carl Froch in December 2011 to win the Super Six tournament. Doesn’t that somehow feel like 10 years ago?
Notice I’m not even mentioning his November 2013 insomnia relief special against Edwin Rodriguez, nobody gives a sh*t about that fight and you don’t either. So… Where does he go from here? Because right now, not only is the RING treating him like ‘Dirt Off Your Shoulder’, but so is Madison Avenue.
The 2004 Olympic gold medalist and still reigning WBA super middleweight champ thinks of himself as an “A” list fighter and the “A” side in any fight or negotiation, but there really shouldn’t be any sacred cows in life or in boxing. While there’s no doubt in my mind he’s still the A fighter he believes he is, Ward has been at best a “B” side attraction.
Ward’s problems with the late Dan Goossen notwithstanding, he is totally to blame for where he is right now, and his partnership with Jay-Z better produce results NOW.
I know for a fact that Adonis “Superman” Stevenson, currently the bitch of Sergey Kovalev, was vocal about wanting to face Andre Ward in the ring after annihilating Chad Dawson on a bright red canvas in his backyard Montreal in June 2013. Andre sat right there at ringside with an HBO mic in front of him to call it, where he could’ve called Stevenson’s bluff right then and there.
Negotiations were opened and closed after Ward over played his hand.
HBO had a September 28th date open, which would’ve been two weeks after He wanted the monstrous “Mayweather/Canelo: The One” card. But no, he wanted the fight in Oakland, and at 168lbs. I don’t care if he had Nas managing him, he needed to make a deal with Stevenson. Then, he was hesitant to pull the trigger on a deal to face Sergey Kovalev himself. This, after telling everyone he’s never been afraid of “The Bogeyman”, but we can’t tell.
Now, as the world is set to place its eyes on the biggest spectacle that the sport has ever known in Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao, there is only one other superfight that can be made after it. One that would involve Andre Ward if he plays his cards right.
“THE BOGEYMAN” FROM KAZAHKSTAN
Enter Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin, otherwise known as “GGG” (Now you know, in case you didn’t). His punishing, 11th round desecration of an ultra-tough Martin Murray this past weekend may have been his most impressive performance I’ve seen since he arrived on the world stage in late 2012.
He was patient, methodical and iron-clad in his assault on Murray in a very Julio Cesar Chavez kind of way. The fight reminded me in many ways of Chavez’s massacre of the late Puerto Rican great Edwin Rosario.
Dating back to 2013 to right now, Golovkin, 32, is 8-0, all by knockout. The WBA/IBO middleweight champion is now 32-0 (29KO’s) and has stopped his last 19 opponents. He has the highest KO ratio in the game and the highest in middleweight history.
I had a chance to speak personally with two of the men Golovkin beat during his recent run in separate phone conversations; BKB middleweight champion and top middleweight contender Gabriel Rosado, and hard-punching middleweight/super middleweight contender Curtis Stevens. The two will face each other in a hotly contested bout for Rosado’s BKB middleweight championship in Las Vegas @Mandalay Bay on April 4, 2015.
Know what I would be doing if I was Jay-Z?
I’d be negotiating for Andre Ward to face the winner of this fight. There are also strong indications that HBO is at least trying to get the lineal middleweight champion of the world (or at least he’s supposed to be anyway), WBC middleweight champ Miguel Cotto, to face “GGG” in Madison Square Garden in June.
What about Ward on the undercard of that fight against one of them?
It would give him a recent common opponent with Golovkin in an absolutely sold out environment. Considering its around the time of Puerto Rican Day, Cotto’s immense drawing power when paired with the increasingly popular Golovkin, would be beyond electrifying if Ward were involved.
I asked Stevens (who lost to Golovkin via 8th rd. stoppage in Nov. 2013) if he remembered getting in my face at ringside of Golovkin’s June 2013 bout with Matthew Macklin in Connecticut, as we jawed back and forth about his prospects against “GGG”.
“Yeah, I remember that, that sh*t was fun man,” said Stevens. “That’s how we do- you already know, but Golovkin was just the better man that night. You never really know what the deal with anything is until you see it, so you were right. He’s strong as f*ck but I want his ass again.”
When asked what makes him so special, Stevens had a simple (and of course crude) response.
“He’s a f*ckin beast G. He believes in what he does and doesn’t give a sh*t about what you’re doing. You gotta have a real strong will to push his sh*t back, because if you don’t, he’ll just walk right through your ass.”
Rosado had a decidedly different take on Golovkin in a more analytical way. A very game Rosado more than held his own against a flu-ridden Golovkin in January 2013, before his corner threw every towel in the building into the ring in near the end of round 7.
“He’s good. Real good. He’s very patient and he stays very calm… Very sure of himself,” recalled Rosado. “His hands are extremely heavy and everything he throws has the same amount of force. He’s consistent and he believes in himself.”
Both agreed he would do what he ultimately did to Murray, but given where they were and where they might be now, what happens if Ward were to face Golovkin right now?
GENNADY “GGG” GOLOVKIN VS. ANDRE “S.O.G” WARD
I think of this fight, and Bernard Hopkins facing Julio Cesar Chavez (in a mythical way where weight isn’t an issue) comes to mind. I can’t see Chavez walking right through Bernard, and I can imagine B-Hop tying up Chavez a great deal while landing a lot of hard, sneaky shots. I think it would be an ugly, frustrating fight for Chavez, but that his volume and aggression would even things out.
I see that fight as a draw.
This fight would follow a similar pattern in my opinion, but there are enough subtle differences between those two legends from the past, and these current ones, to make for a much better fight than Hopkins vs. Chavez.
Ward, like Hopkins, can and will smother an attack. Only Mayweather has proven to be better at muting an opponent’s offense in this generation, and Ward would do the same thing to Golovkin for great stretches. That is the component in Andre that makes him so special. He’ll find a way to take a punch – or an entire arm – from someone, and make them work with other tools they don’t really like in their toolbox.
What makes Golovkin really special, is that he likes everything in his toolbox, and this fight has as much to do with trainers Virgil Hunter and Abel Sanchez as it does the fighters.
Ward would fight a very measured, very calculated and cerebral fight; one that would require a great deal of physicality on his part to suffocate Golovkin’s offense, while producing enough of his own. He could do it in spots, but I think it would be extremely difficult to do over 12 rounds.
Golovkin is not particularly fast, but the ring generalship he exhibits in being the most effectively aggressive fighter I’ve seen since Chavez, would gradually overwhelm Ward, who is not as physically strong as the great Hopkins was in his prime.
The most damaging puncher in the sport would lose most of the rounds to Ward, but would leave the “Son of God” feeling like he’d gained 3 or 4lbs after each round. That’s how heavy a puncher Golovkin is – which when paired with his constant, claustrophobic-like pressure, would cause Ward to wilt and breakdown.
Golovkin’s knockout streak would end, but he would end Ward’s unbeaten one while preserving his own, as “GGG” defeats Andre Ward via 12 round UD.