Op-Ed: Andre Ward trapped between Showtime and HBO without 24/7 appeal
It was noticeable that Andre Ward who was recently on Showtime Boxing and has been a constant with that network was a cameo commentator on the HBO Mayweather Cotto fight. There are now reports he will fight Chad Dawson for the Light Heavyweight Title.
After winning the Showtime Super Six Super Middleweight Championship in convincing fashion there can be little doubt about Andre Ward. Ask his defeated opponents and if they were honest in their appraisal they would agree. However as a big money Pay per View fighter he lacks the fire of Manny Pacquiao or the flair of Floyd Mayweather.
Unfortunately in the continuing attempts by sanctioning bodies and cable networks he is caught in the middle of being a champion in the Super Middleweight belt cable wars. With Showtime as the dominant force either Ward fights a designated Showtime opponent or find another network.
reports: “HBO has no clout with the super middleweight fighters, Showtime has that market on lockdown. Ward would likely have to move up a division to face any lucrative competition.”
Sometimes being able to box or slug and win does not get you to the top of the big money ladder. There needs to be something else. Call it charisma or a hard luck story or just BS hyped up by personal ambition but something is needed.
Manny Pacquiao is a soft spoken man that turns into a monster in the ring. Maybe alone and without the entourage from his homeland and Freddie Roach and Bob Arum he would fall flat but that is yet to be proven. So whenever he puts on the gloves regardless who he fights tickets will sell. He doesn’t fight guys who don’t bring something on the other end. Guys who are perceived as having no chance against him. His promoters wouldn’t have it that way even if you and I know better.
Floyd Mayweather brings all the drama he can muster. From rivalries self developed and promoted often with a hint of expunging some demons that his opponent contains. The familiar and reoccurring drama with his father. The bragging and entourage highlighted by rapper 50 Cent who in and of himself walks the lines of controversy in the music business. Both of these guys are in the eyes of many as ones that they would like to see fall. It has not yet and their string is still rolling along.
Andre Ward seems to have nothing more than the all American image. Olympic gold medal winner. California native and family man whose wife and kids look like the neighbors next door. He is soft spoken and as stated in the Showtime stare down with Carl Froch he leaves his perceived greatness descriptions to someone else. He does not feel the need to declare himself great. His humility is refreshing in light of the other great fighter in this conversation.
Unfortunately humility seems not to be a key ingredient in match making unless there is more. Humility in and of itself in the purest definition I have heard is once you say you are you no longer are because humble people don’t go around proclaiming themselves as such. In that sense Ward has found some truism in his brutal way of making a living.
It may mean all the world to Andre Ward but little to the fan that wants a little edge when they pay for a fight or lay down a bet. Two nice guys fighting each other can make for a boring encounter unless the fan has technical knowledge or a human interest in the outcome.
reports: “After Chad Dawson beat Bernard Hopkins, he called out Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward. While I like the fact that the best wants to fight the best, this matchup just smells like a wasteful Saturday night. Style-wise, both fighters are natural boxers who look better against aggressive punchers.”
The HBO 24/7 series is the key to big money in the fight game and to succeed you need salesmanship, flexibility and skills. Ask Floyd Money Mayweather about the formula. It gives you a reason to root for somebody whether they are the underdog or the champion. For Ward to overcome his lack of super star identity he will have to do more than be a cameo announcer on HBO.