When RING, WBA and WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward defends his belts against former undisputed middleweight titleholder Kelly Pavlik on an HBO-televised card on Jan. 26 that includes a heavyweigh co-feature between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne, the show will unite Dan Goossen, Bob Arum and Don King for the first time any of the three promoters can recall.
“Tell them this,” said King, who handles Stiverne. “It will be glorious to be working with old friends Bob Arum and Dan Goossen.”
King turned 81 in August. Arum will do he same in December.
“Don King and I, we always have a good time,” said Arum, who promotes Pavlik and responded, “no,” when asked if he recalled the last time the trio worked together. “Any time that I’m involved with a promotion along with Don King, we really enjoy it.”
Goossen is the event’s lead promoter, handling Ward and Arreola on a show that will take place at USC’s Galen Center in Los Angeles.
“It’s the trifecta here. The three of us working together here, I guess, that’s another angle that I didn’t even think about. I can’t remember if the three of us have ever done anything together like this in the past. But, it was a lot of fun dealing with both Bob and Don on putting this together,” said Goossen.
“It does remind me of the old days where we have all put together deals in the past. I’m looking forward to 2013, and getting Andre back out there and also Chris. I know that they’ve teamed up in the past, being on each other’s shows throughout the years, so it’s good to see them back on what I think is going to be a very explosive night of boxing.”
Ward (26-0, 14 knockouts) is coming off an HBO-televised 10th-round knockout of RING and WBC light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson in September. Prior to that title defense, he dethroned Carl Froch as WBC 168-pound beltholder by unanimous decision in the finals of Showtime’s Super Six Super Middleweight Classic last December.
A 2004 Olympic gold medalist, Ward became the first man to stop Dawson, whom he floored during the third, fourth and 10th rounds. Ward fought through a broken left hand to defeat Froch and was later named Fighter of The Year for 2011 and the recipient of the Sugar Ray Robinson Trophy from the Boxing Writers’ Association of America.
“I’ve heard all the talk about Kelly Pavlik, but I know better than that. He’s beaten plenty of the big names. Bob Arum has done a great job of keeping Kelly busy until an opportunity like this came along,” said Ward.
“You can bet that a former world champion like Kelly Pavlik, being afforded another title shot…he’s going to be primed and ready. We are going to be ready too and it’s going to be a tremendous show.”
Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs) is coming off his fourth straight victory with a unanimous decision over Will Rosinsky in July. Pavlik burst onto the scene with a seventh-round knockout of then-undisputed and previously undefeated middleweight titleholder Jermain Taylor in September of 2007.
“You’ve got Andre fighting probably the most recognizable name that he’s fought year, and someone that I know will not be underestimated from our end. I know not by Andre. You’ve got a fighter in Kelly Pavlik who is a former world champ who knows that this is his opportunity to get back to where he was,” said Goossen.
“Those types of fights are very dangerous fights, because obviously, Pavlik had the talent not only to defend his title, but to go out there and to beat a very talented Jermain Taylor to get that title.”
Pavlik was later dethroned as WBC and WBO 160-pound titleholder via unanimous decision by Sergio Martinez in April of 2010, and has since fought at or above 168 pounds.
“I think that he was disappointing in the Rosinsky fight, and I think that he needs a bigger challenge,” said Arum. “So we really think, and Kelly believes, that this it the motivation that he needs to really deliver a stellar performance. He is confident that he is going to do well, so we’ll see.”
Ward also owns a decision victory from November of 2009 over Denmark’s former four-time beltholder Mikkel Kessler, of Denmark, who has won three straight, two of them by knockout, since falling to Ward.
Kessler, 33, rebounded from the loss to Ward by out-pointing Froch in April of 2010, and will pursue his fourth straight win and his third consecutive knockout against Brian Magee on Dec. 8. The WBA has mandated that Ward face the winner of Kessler-Magee by June 8.
Another option down the road could be Froch, 35, who bounced back from the loss to Ward with a fifth-round knockout of previously unbeaten southpaw Lucian Bute in May. Froch knocked out Yusaf Mack in his last fight on Nov. 17.
“Andre Ward’s a hell of a world champ. He’s the super middleweight king right now. He went through a tough tournament and proved where he’s at,” said Pavlik.
“He beat everybody that he was supposed to fight and he’s top dog. When I was champ, I was the one being pursued. Now he’s champ and I’m in hot pursuit.”
Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs), of Riverside, Calif., will meet Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs), of Las Vegas, in a WBC eliminator clash. King won the purse bid with $1.1 million to $550,000 by Goosen and $512,000 for the right to handle Arreola-Stiverne.
The winner of Arreola-Stiverne could be in line to challenge 41-year-old WBC titleholder Vitali Klitschko, who scored his 13th straight win and his 10th stoppage victory during that run against Manuel Charr in September.
“It’s nice to know that this fight puts him into the position to go out there and claim that goal that we had when we first got together, which is to become the first heavyweight world champion of Mexican decent,” said Goossen.
“That’s been our goal since Day One, and Stiverne’s a tough fighter. I describe it as a nail-biting fight ringside. You’ve got two, highly-ranked, very strong and powerful heavyweights in there. I won’t need my nail clippers that night.”
Arreola, 31, will be after his eighth straight win, his sixth knockout during that span and his third consecutive stoppage victory against Stiverne. Arreola has not been in the ring since February, when he came up with a first-round knockout over Eric Molina.
Arreola suffered his two losses against Klitschko by 10th-round knockout in September 2009, and by majority decision to Tomasz Adamek in April of 2010.
Stiverne, 34, is 10-0-1, with eight knockouts in his past 11 fights, including five first-round stoppages. Stiverne’s lone defeat was by fourth-round knockout against Demetrice King in July of 2007.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]