Fantasy Fights: Andre Ward vs Joe Calzaghe

Andre Ward vs Joe Calzaghe
Boxing247.com

Recently I found myself discussing a mythical fight with a friend of mine, as I'm sure many fellow fight fans like to do from time to time.

Although it's very hard to compare fighters from different eras, the fantasy fight debate is probably one of the most fun back and forth conversations out there for boxing fans.

Two names cropped up for us in particular, two men who's careers just missed each other at the highest level of the sport - super-middleweights Andre Ward and Joe Calzaghe.

Calzaghe has been retired for quite a few years now of course, but amounted a sublime 46-0 record on route to not only retiring, but did something that not a lot of boxers do (at least on their own terms), in staying retired.

Ward's rise to prominence came at a time were Calzaghe's career was winding down a touch, so we never got to see the American step into the ring with the dazzling Welshman.

But what a fight it would have been. For the purpose of debate, lets try to match up the two guys based on a few key criteria.

Boxing Ability

It's a close one here, but for pure technical boxing skills I'd have to just give the edge to Ward.

Ward, a man with tremendous pedigree having won Olympic Gold, is arguably one of the best pound for pound boxers of his era behind the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and possibly Guillermo Rigondeaux.

In a straight out boxing chess match, I'd just give the nod to Ward here.

Competition Faced

Calzaghe did come in for a little flack during his reign as champion for competition faced but no matter what anyone says, he beat everyone who was put in front of him, and did so against some great fighters like Mikkel Kessler and Bernard Hopkins. Who'll ever forget the night he ruined a much hyped up Jeff 'Left Hook' Lacey, too.

Ward has fought considerably less than Calzaghe has in terms of pro fights (at this point) but with wins over the likes of Kessler, Abraham, Froch and Chad Dawson, you'd you to give the edge to the American in this category.

Speed / Power / Stamina

Ward is by no means slow or unfit, but it's hard to compare anyone's work rate and hand speed at the 168lbs limit with Joe Calzaghe's. The man was a machine with a punch output that may never be matched again at the weight.

Calzaghe early on in his career could punch a little bit, but through constant hand injuries as time went on, his punch power lowered considerably and instead opted to use fast combinations.

Ward can punch a bit when he has to, and you might just give him the slight edge in power over Calzaghe. However, Calzaghe would take this category overall for me based on superior speed and stamina.

Mental Strength

Both men obviously are tremendously mentally strong athletes, having (to date in Ward's case as of the time of this article) never lost a professional bout, never been intimidated by an opponent's pre-fight verbals or mind games and in general, never shown any weakness in the area.

Calzaghe's longevity of professional career showed that he had the mental stamina to keep going for many years, keep winning and never lose focus.

Although Ward has done the same to this point, the fact that Calzaghe has been there and done it, and retired, just gives him the edge for me. But a very close category.

Will To Win

The final category is a dead even draw for me, as both guys have never lost and have exhibited nothing but a will to win in their respective careers.

Two fighters who want to win, know how to win and so far (at the time of this article in Ward's case) have always delivered the goods, under any circumstances.