Over the weekend, Andre Ward put an emphatic stamp of victory on his rivalry with Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev, stopping the Russian puncher in round eight and handing him a soul-crushing defeat. This was an outcome that few, if any, predicted. In his post-fight interview with Max Kellerman, Ward mentioned his desire to continue climbing weight classes, with his eyes on the cruiserweight and heavyweight divisions. However, before Ward gets moving north, I argue there is a more meaningful match-up at light-heavyweight that demands his participation now: a battle with The Fight City’s own, Adonis “Superman” Stevenson. With both men coming off impressive wins, now is the time for Ward vs Stevenson.
This fight needs to happen next because it will determine the true kingpin of the 175 lb. division. Although many believe Ward has already earned that spot with consecutive victories over Kovalev, he can’t unequivocally make that claim until he faces Stevenson. That is because Adonis can still make a case for being the lineal champ, having brutalized Chad Dawson, who had beat Hopkins to become “the man who beat the man.” Don’t get me wrong, I have vehemently criticized Stevenson for his long streak of absolutely dreadful opponents. But despite his consistent cherry picking, one can’t deny that “Superman” would represent a major challenge for Ward, thanks to his devastating punching power.
Another reason Ward vs Stevenson needs to be next is because once Ward moves up, I don’t see him ever coming back down to light-heavyweight. At 32, Andre is no longer young for an athlete and going up and down in weight would take a significant physical toll on his body and likely negatively impact his performance. Being the calculating man that he is, I think if he goes up, he’s staying there. If he were to move up to heavyweight and somehow replicate Roy Jones’s remarkable feat of winning a belt, at that point a match with Stevenson doesn’t make much sense. The juice simply wouldn’t be worth the squeeze. From a fan’s perspective, he needs to fight Stevenson now and then move on to bigger game.
All that said, Stevenson needs this fight far more than Ward. That’s because Ward’s record, with wins over Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham, Dawson, Carl Froch and Kovalev, clearly outclasses that of “Superman.” It’s laughable to compare those names to Dmitry Sukhotsky, Tommy Karpency, and Thomas Williams Jr. Yes, Adonis looked as lethal as ever earlier this month when he stopped Andrzej Fonfara in less than four minutes of action, but at the same time no one can deny that Stevenson has cheapened his legacy since winning the lineal championship, to the point that even his hometown fans are booing him at the Bell Centre. If Adonis were to take on Ward, regardless of the outcome, he would regain much of the respect he had lost in recent years because he would finally be challenging himself.
And if he were to defeat S.O.G., he would cause a seismic shift in the division’s landscape and bring a jolt of electricity to a career that has been on life-support. Conquering the conqueror of Kovalev would crown him the undisputed king at 175 and open the door for incredible opportunities. Stevenson would have the bargaining power to negotiate for even bigger fights in Montreal, where sellouts and tremendous financial windfall would be all but guaranteed. Fighting Ward could truly turn his career around and Stevenson desperately needs to put all his resources into ensuring that it happens. Adonis is already 39-years-old and if he wants to be positively remembered in this sport for years to come, he must do all he can to ensure this match happens now.
As for Ward, while he may not readily admit it, he does seek recognition and respect from the sport’s pundits. Asking Kellerman after the Kovalev rematch if he can get the number one spot on the pound-for-pound list only serves to validate that. Fighting and beating Stevenson, the only other major player left at 175, would earn the fans’ and media’s respect because he will have taken on the biggest and baddest the division had to offer. And Adonis needs to take on Ward to make up for lost time and to save his downward trending career before it hits rock bottom. For all those reasons, plus the fact it should be a great fight, I for one am calling on everyone involved to make this match happen as soon as possible. The time is now for Ward vs Stevenson! — Jamie Rebner