- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- Representatives for super middleweight champion Andre Ward and former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik are negotiating a fight between the American stars, their promoters told ESPN.com on Friday.
If the bout is finalized, it would take place Feb. 23 and be televised as a "World Championship Boxing" main event on HBO. No venue has been determined, but the fight would not take place in Oakland, Calif., Ward's hometown. Ward has said repeatedly that he wants to fight in Las Vegas, where he has never fought.
"Yes, I am in talks with Top Rank," Dan Goossen, Ward's promoter, told ESPN.com, although he declined to elaborate on the discussions.
Bob Arum said the Pavlik side is ready to go as long as he the financial details can be worked out. He said he is trying to come to an agreement with Goossen as well as with Pavlik manager, Cameron Dunkin, on how they will split the money.
"It's a fight we're certainly interested in," Arum said. "Dan has had conversations with me and with (Top Rank preside) Todd (duBoef) and we've had conversations with Cameron. We would work with Dan on the event.
"Kelly wants the fight. He has wanted the fight. Andre Ward is the best fighter in the world at this weight and Kelly said he wants a big fight and to face the best opponents."
Pavlik would be getting just that in Ward, who is considered by many to be the second-best fighter in boxing behind only Floyd Mayweather Jr. Ward was a 2004 U.S. Olympic gold medalist and has risen to the top of the pro game by winning the Super Six World Boxing Classic and two 168-pound titles during the tournament in which he rolled past elite opponents without being challenged.
In his encore to winning the Super Six final with a dominant performance to unify titles against Carl Froch in December, Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), 28, scored a dominant 10th-round knockout of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson on Sept. 8 in Oakland. He floored Dawson, who had dropped down in weight from 175 pounds, three times.
Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs), 30, of Youngstown, Ohio, held the middleweight championship from 2007, when he knocked out Jermain Taylor to win it, to 2010, when he lost a bloody decision to Sergio Martinez.
Outside the ring Pavlik has had his share of problems, leading to long layoffs and the perception by many that he is not close to the fighter he was when he was at his best. He battled alcoholism and wound up in rehab twice, was arrested on a DUI charge, had contract a dispute with Top Rank and changed trainers from Jack Loew to Robert Garcia.
But Pavlik seemed to get back on track in 2012, fighting three times between March and July and winning each in dominant fashion, although against lesser competition in Will Rosinsky, Scott Sigmon and Aaron Jaco.