By: Hans Themistode
The boxing world has always debated loudly over certain hypothetical matchups. From fans banging their heads against the wall that Floyd Mayweather would box circles around “Sugar” Ray Leonard to pundits around the globe claiming that Muhammad Ali would defeat Tyson Fury, despite the height and weight disparity.
Over the past few years, one theoretical showdown, in particular, has captured the imagination of many.
With Canelo Alvarez making a beeline up and down numerous weight classes, the Mexican star solidified himself as boxing’s pound-for-pound best in the mind of many, following his undisputed run at 168 pounds. However, before Alvarez took his place as the man to beat, Andre Ward proudly held that distinction.
In addition to Ward becoming a unified world champion at 168 pounds, he would go on to become a unified titlist at 175 pounds as well. With Ward, abruptly retiring in 2017, following an eighth-round knockout victory over Sergey Kovalev, Alvarez is now confidently marching through Ward’s old stomping grounds.
As a result, fans have continually salivated over a hypothetical matchup between the pair. Ultimately, while Alvarez’s diehard’s have sided with the current pound-for-pound star, and zealots of Ward are standing firmly in his corner, Kathy Duva, CEO of Main Events, having seen both men up close and personal, believes she knows who would have prevailed if they stepped into the ring against one another.
“If they got in the ring together, I would have to pick Canelo,” said Duva during an interview with Fight Hub TV. “Andre Ward is terrific but Canelo is superhuman. I have been astonished by what he’s accomplished. As good as Ward is, he’s not challenged himself the way Canelo has. He spent years sitting out, voluntarily, he didn’t have to.”
As Duva eludes to, from 2013 to 2014, Ward publicly feuded with former promoter, Dan Goossen. The genesis of their issues stemmed from a contractual dispute. Initially, Ward believed that Goossen was never his sole promoter. Instead, Ward was under the assumption that their partnership was split between Goossen and co-promoter Antonio Leonard. With Leonard shut out of the picture monetarily, Ward took issue with Goossen. Although things were eventually worked out, Ward spent a full year and a half out of the ring, before returning full-time in 2016.
Regardless of Ward’s promotional issues, he picked up exactly where he left off. To cap off his Hall of Fame career, Duva watched from her ringside seat as Ward handed previously undefeated pound-for-pound star, Sergey Kovalev, back-to-back defeats.
Still, as Duva juxtaposes Ward’s accomplishments to Alvarez, she believes it’s a no-brainer.
“Nothing against him, he managed his career however he needed to. But when you compare what he’s accomplished to what Canelo’s accomplished, it’s night and day. I know he’s a terrific boxer and he’s great with the head games. He did a very effective job on Sergey with that for sure. We knew it was coming, we did everything we could think of to stop it but he’s good at it. I don’t know if that works on Canelo. He’s been there and done more.”
In 2019, in an unexpected move, Alvarez brazenly made the jump from a full-fledged 160 pounder, to the light heavyweight division. The Mexican native would go on to violently rip Kovalev’s WBO world title away. In doing so, Alvarez became a four-division world titlist. Ultimately, Duva isn’t able to pinpoint who was the better fighter between Alvarez and Ward. However, unambiguously, Duva believes that if the two were to meet in the ring at any point in time, Alvarez would emerge victoriously.
“If you ask me to pick who’d win if they were head to head, I don’t know who’s the better fighter because you can put two great fighters together twice and get two different results. But head-to-head, Canelo beats anybody he wants to fight basically.”