Andre Ward shoulder injury derails title defense

Super middleweight champion – and Oakland native son – Andre Ward has been forced to postpone his Jan. 26 title defense against former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik after injuring his shoulder during a sparring session.

Ward’s promoter, Dan Goossen, said that Ward threw a punch and immediately stopped after feeling a tweak. Ward did not think much of the pain at first, but decided to visit a doctor and had an MRI performed on Nov. 30:

“It disclosed no tears, no rotator cuff injury, nothing of devastating proportions, but there was a lot of swelling and inflammation, so the key to healing is not using the arm for a few weeks.”

Goossen said there was such a delay in breaking the news because he, Ward and his team were trying to get as many opinions as possible regarding the healing process.

The bout was scheduled to headline HBO’s World Championship Boxing telecast, which would have included a heavyweight title eliminator between Bermane Stiverne (21-1-1, 20 KO) and Goossen-promoted former title contender Cristobal Arreola (35-2, 30 KO).

Goossen said he is meeting with HBO to discuss rescheduling the bout for either Feb. 23 or the first two weeks of March.

Goossen said he also hopes to still host the bout at the Galen Center on the campus of the University of Southern California.

Ward, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, has established himself as the king of the 168 lb. division within the past three years, defeating a who’s who of talent including Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch – winning the WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine titles in the process.

In his last outing, the 28-year-old Ward (26-0, 14 KO) destroyed universally recognized light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson in 10 rounds in front of his hometown fans at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.

Pavlik (40-2, 34 KO) won the WBC, WBO and Ring Magazine middleweight titles with a crushing seventh-round technical knockout of Jermain Taylor in September 2007. He successfully defended his titles three times before dropping them in a bloody unanimous decision loss to Sergio Martinez in April 2010.

Pavlik, who was trained by Jack Loew for most of his career, has won his last four bouts at super middleweight under the tutelage of new trainer Robert Garcia. The bout against Ward will be Pavlik’s first high-profile bout since the Martinez loss.

Pavlik’s only other loss came via lopsided unanimous decision to former middleweight and light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins in a non-title bout in October 2008.