When you look back on the Super Middleweight division over the past twenty years there has been some great champions. The likes of Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch, Lucian Bute and many more, but two men stand above the rest as potentially the most talented champions that the division has seen. The two men who hold the longest reigns of the division in terms of years held. Joe Calzaghe and Andre Ward.
When you look at Joe Calzaghe’s time in the game you have to just say wow. To finish as a two weight champion with an unbeaten record of 46-0 with 32 stoppages is incredible, but when you delve into the record you see that Joe had some nights where he would be stunning and some where he would come in and go through the motions. There is no denying he had some nights where he didn’t live up to his absolute scintillating best but there were many nights where he absolutely did. One-night stands above the rest though, March 4th, 2006.
Calzaghe was defending his WBO Super Middleweight Title against fearsome puncher and IBF Super Middleweight king Jeff Lacy (21-0 17KO at the time).
A lot of media were predicting a harsh loss for the unbeaten Welshman against a man who had been nicknamed “Mini Mike Tyson” due to his massive punching power, many felt that Lacy would walk through Joe’s slapping shots to stop him in the middle part of the fight. This seemed like an insult to Calzaghe who held a record of 40-0 going into the fight, had held the belt for 9 years and had made 17 defenses of his world crown. However, for the bookies and media Lacy was the next big thing, he had won his IBF crown against Syd Vanderpool (35-3 23KO) and after only three defenses was looking to unify.
So, at close to 2am local time in the MEN arena in Manchester, England, Calzaghe and Lacy laced up and got in the ring. The fight itself was an eye watering one. Lacy was made to miss almost constantly with his big winging shots. Lacy was given no breathing room in a contest that became hard to watch as the beating on Lacy ensued.
Calzaghe threw hard combinations with both hands and the fight could have been stopped numerous times during the contest as Calzaghe simply bullied the unbeaten American and finally sent him crashing to the canvas for the first time in his career in the 12th round. Lacy survived the vicious performance due to his tremendous heart and great chin but his face was a mess by the end. Calzaghe was awarded the contest with scores of 119-107 x2 and 119-105 and unified the WBO and IBF championships whilst also silencing the doubters and made sure people viewed him at the very top of this sport.
When you look at Andre Wards career you see similarities too Joe Calzaghes, Ward too finished unbeaten and a two-weight world champion at both Super Middleweight and Light Heavyweight. Ward may have been more inactive then his Welsh counterpart but there is no doubt he was the number one at Super Middleweight and would dethrone the number one at Light Heavyweight in Sergey Kovalev. But, his finest hour in the squared circle would come in the Super Six Super Middleweight final in a unification fight against WBC Super Middleweight champion Carl Froch (28-1 20KO at the time).
Ward and Froch would meet on the 17th December 2011 in Atlantic City. After a round robin tournament had been created called the Super Six, which pitted six of the best Super Middleweights in the world against each other, two left standing across from each other. The WBA king Andre Ward and the WBC holder Carl Froch.
Both men were polar opposites in the ring, Froch would look to find a home for his heavy right hand and land hard hooks on the inside whereas Ward was more of a slick, technical boxer who was hard to pin down and would land stunning counters. The fight itself was a good one, Froch came forward and tried to pin Ward down but the more technically sound American would not allow his British opponent the opportunity to do so and would be out of range whenever Froch threw his hefty bombs.
Ward countered efficiently and would land uppercuts and tie Froch up on the inside whenever the Cobra got close enough to do some damage. The fight wasn’t the prettiest encounter ever and would leave Froch and his supporters frustrated but by the end of the twelfth round Andre Ward would be the super six winner and more importantly would become the unified WBA and WBC Super Middleweight champion of the world. The fight made Ward seem untouchable at 168lbs and would cement him as a real P4P talent.
And now comes the question, Andre Ward (32-0 16KO) vs. Joe Calzaghe (46-0 32KO) how would the fight go and who would emerge victorious?
I think the fight would be a chess match early doors with Ward taking the early rounds by tying the Welshman up and effectively counter punching, the same way he dealt with Froch, but as the fight came into the middle rounds Calzaghe’s high pressure and masterful pace would come into effect as he began landing more and more shots on Ward. When you look at Ward’s career, he doesn’t seem the biggest banger but he could certainly punch when he decided to plant his feet and go for it and I think he would land a big shot on Joe at some point and hurt him but Calzaghe would come back and eventually overwhelm Ward with his pace and punches in bunches.
I think the fight would be a close one with both men having their moments but eventually the judges would have to split them. I think Joe Calzaghe remains unbeaten and takes Wards unbeaten record by a score of 115-113.
Prediction: Calzaghe UD Ward (115-113)
No matter my personal prediction both men were great fighters and both will be remembered for their memorable reigns and their biggest nights.