Andre Ward-Kelly Pavlik fight is off

Updated: December 27, 2012, 10:42 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Super middleweight champion Andre Ward's right shoulder injury is more serious than originally thought and he will need surgery, forcing his already postponed title defense against former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik to be canceled, a Ward camp source told ESPN.com on Wednesday night and Pavlik's manager, Cameron Dunkin, confirmed.

Ward injured the shoulder during a sparring session in late November, forcing the Jan. 26 HBO main event -- slated to be on the first boxing card at the Galen Center on the USC campus in Los Angeles -- to be postponed. Promoter Dan Goossen and HBO had planned to reschedule the fight on March 2 at a venue to be determined because the Galen Center was not available on the new date.

Reached while on a family vacation, Dan Goossen, Ward's promoter, declined to discuss the situation Wednesday night.

Dunkin told ESPN.com that he was notified Wednesday night by Top Rank's Bob Arum, Pavlik's promoter, that Ward would be sidelined for an extended period.

"Bob called me up and told me the fight was out and said, 'What are we gonna do with Pavlik?' He said Goossen called him and told him that Ward needed shoulder surgery," Dunkin said. "So I don't know what we're gonna do, but we're going to move forward and get Kelly a fight and get him back in the ring.

"I sent him a text to let him know what was up because I couldn't get in touch with him."

Pavlik was a significant underdog against Ward, but Dunkin said he went along with the fight because it was what Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs), 30, of Youngstown, Ohio, wanted.

"I wasn't jumping up and down for the fight," Dunkin said. "I wasn't excited for it, but it's something Kelly wanted and that is my job, to create opportunities for my clients. Kelly told me that fighting Ward was what he wanted to do. He said to get the fight done, so sometimes that's what you gotta do. And now we will look for something else."

Right after Ward suffered the injury during a sparring session with Tony Hirsch, Goossen told ESPN.com, "He felt a little tweak [in his shoulder] when he threw a punch and stopped immediately. He didn't really think it was that damaging at first, but he certainly felt pain. He went to the doctor and followed up with an MRI. 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."

Ward, 28, of Oakland, Calif., unified 168-pound titles in the final of the Super Six World Boxing Classic in December 2011 with a dominant decision victory against Carl Froch to lock up fighter of the year honors. But Ward, one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world and a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, was limited to one fight in 2012, partly because of a fractured right hand he suffered in his final sparring session before the fight with Froch. Ward fought Froch with the injury.

In his only fight of 2012, Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) scored a dominant 10th-round knockout of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, who came down in weight, on Sept. 8.

The cancelation of Ward-Pavlik leaves in limbo the co-feature, a heavyweight world title elimination fight between Cristobal Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs) and Bermane Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs). The winner of the fight, which is likely to be rescheduled, will become the mandatory challenger for titleholder Vitali Klitschko.