Current world champion boxer Andre Ward says he’d be as excited as anyone to see Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz step into a boxing ring against Jeff Lacy later this year.
That said, he has no idea how well Diaz would do.
Ward, who is currently ranked the No. 8 pound-for-pound boxer in the world by ESPN.com, has a unique insider’s look at Diaz’s boxing skills. The two California-based fighters have sparred one another multiple times and they’re trainers know each other well.
But even though Ward considers Diaz a friend, he’s not willing to guarantee Diaz would do well in professional boxing. Ward says that if any mixed martial artist can make the crossover succesfully, Diaz is at the top of the list. But it’s going to be tough.
“I appreciate and admire [Diaz’s] courage,” Ward told ESPN.com, while in Las Vegas to watch Manny Pacquiao’s recent win over Shane Mosley. “It remains to be seen how well he’ll do, though.
“Nick has good hands, some of the best hands in MMA. But professional boxing is totally different. Totally different.”
According to Ward, the two have sparred on “six or seven different occasions,” always for multiple rounds.
When asked how Diaz fared during the sparring sessions, Ward smiled and refused to go into details -- although he did say Diaz has been a terrific addition to his camp whenever he’s there.
“I can’t really talk about that,” Ward said. “That’s something fighter’s don’t reveal out of respect for each other. It was good work though. He’s a southpaw and he just keeps on coming. It’s definitely good work.”
The proposed fight between Diaz and Lacy would take place this fall, although a specific date and venue have yet to be announced. Under his contract with Strikeforce, Diaz is allowed to enter the boxing ring in 2011, although his manager Cesar Gracie has said he would forego that opportunity to fight current UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.
Diaz has one professional boxing match in his career, a unanimous decision win in a four-round affair in 2005. Lacy holds a professional record of 25-4 (17 KOs). He is a former IBF super middleweight champion but has lost three of his last four fights.
Because of his recent slide, some have all-but written off Lacy at this point in his boxing career. But while he doesn’t appear a threat to regain his world title, he’d be a clear favorite over Diaz.
“Lacy is dangerous,” Ward said. “I don’t know what everyone is talking about with Lacy. He is dangerous and he’s a very difficult fight for Nick. Jeff is a friend of mine and Nick is a friend of mine. I just want to sit back and watch it. It remains to be seen how it will all work out.”