It’s been over one year since undefeated super middleweight champion Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KO’s) decimated former light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson. Winning the fight was supposed to act as a propeller for a guy that is trying to make his way to headlining his own Pay-Per-View card. Ward, though considered the second best fighter in the world behind Mayweather, hasn’t been able to secure that huge money fight that every boxer is looking for and that a fighter like Ward most certainly deserves. But instead of being able to continue to build his reputation off the Dawson victory to find his way to stardom, an injury has kept Ward inactive for the year 2013.
This Saturday night Ward will be returning from a shoulder injury that has put him on the shelf since his Dawson victory. The injury was a huge setback to a fighter that was looking to get a big fight against the popular stars Sergio Martinez or Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. Despite winning Showtime’s Super Middleweight Tournament two years ago Ward hasn’t gotten the type of fame and fortune that someone like Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, or Miguel Cotto has earned. Ward is considered one of the two best boxers in boxing. His victories over Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch, and Chad Dawson were not just sensational, but nearly perfect as he made three of the top fighters in the world look like lost puppies in the boxing ring.
So why isn’t Ward raking in the dollars despite being considered the second best fighter in the world behind Floyd Mayweather? It’s a question with multiple answers. One, Ward hasn’t had that big fight against a star with his own fan base. Mayweather and Pacquaio were both able to use Oscar De La Hoya as a booster to showcase themselves. Mayweather did it with his personality while Pacquiao did it with his aggressive style of fighting. Cotto was able to build his own fan base with the hardcore Puerto Rican fans along with a fan-friendly style that people came to love over the years. Even someone like Canelo has been able to build his name over the years with the Mexican fans who will pay money to see him fight regardless of the opponent. Ward hasn’t been able to develop that base yet. He is a technical fighter like Mayweather, but lacks the eccentric personality that Mayweather has to make people want to watch him. His style, despite dominate, is considered boring by a ton of fans.
It’s no secret that building a fan base is usually based on being an exciting fighter or having a built-in personality that people either love or hate. Ward is neither of the two. But that doesn’t mean he can’t be a superstar. It just means that he needs to find his own way of doing it. Lucky for him, in his absence over the last year other stars have risen making boxing fans once again excited to see Ward face off against guys like Adonis Stevenson, Sergey Kovalev, and Gennady Golovkin. Julio Cesar Chavez has also expressed interest in facing Ward. These are not just good fights for Ward but some of them are Pay-Per-View worthy where he can start making some serious money that he hasn’t seen yet. And if he can beat those guys he may start to get some fans that want to keep on watching him fight. Fans that will pay money for it. Ward is only 28 years old. He’s got time to keep building himself into a superstar.
This weekend he faces undefeated contender Edwin Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KO’s). It’s a fight where Ward is a heavy favorite but not one to be taken lightly. At the very least Rodriguez will show Ward if his injured shoulder is one hundred percent healed. Should Ward win, 2014 could be a very good year for him as he searches to face the likes of Chavez Jr, Golovkin, Stevenson, and Kovalev. As long as he keeps building up the victories the people will continue to watch and maybe he can finally start making that superstar money that he deserves to make.