After super middleweight champion Andre Ward returned from a 14-month layoff because of a shoulder injury to rout Edwin Rodriguez on Nov. 16, the question that came to mind was, whom could Ward face next?
He has already virtually cleaned out the 168-pound division, having won the Super Six World Boxing Classic and banking lopsided wins against Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham, not to mention a nontournament rout of Sakio Bika (who later won the belt that was wrongly stripped from Ward).
After the tournament was over, Ward even crushed light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson, who had dropped down in weight to face Ward, stopping him in the 10th round of a one-sided fight.
A week after Ward's clinic against Rodriguez, George Groves challenged titleholder Froch on Nov. 23 in a big all-British showdown. Groves mostly took Froch to school, knocking him down in the first round, and was clearly winning the fight. But in the ninth round, Froch got Groves into some trouble and referee Howard John Foster suddenly jumped in to stop the fight in one of the worst stoppages in recent memory. Now Froch is telling anyone who will listen that he won't give Groves the rematch he deserves.
After seeing how Groves dominated Froch, awful stoppage notwithstanding, I thought: Wouldn't it be interesting if Ward gave Groves a shot?
After all, Ward (27-0, 14 KOs) beat Froch easily (and with one hand), and even though Froch has talked about his desire for a rematch with Ward, there is really no reason for it. That said, there is a very good reason for Froch-Groves II. But if Froch wants to run away from a rematch with Groves (19-1, 15 KOs), so be it. Ward would be justified in giving a shot to Groves, who looked good enough against Froch to deserve a shot against the real 168-pound champion anyway.
Maybe there will be a Ward-Groves fight, especially after Ward took to Twitter on Thursday to mention the possibility.
"UK fans still not happy with Carl 'The Cobra' Froch huh?? That's why I respect UK fans, they ride for the home team, but tell the truth," Ward wrote. "Thing is, if he is going to live up to his tough guy image, he has to rematch Groves or try to avenge his loss to me. He's got two options.
"His fans won't except anything else," Ward continued. "What do you think UK?
"I would consider fighting George Groves next. He showed a lot his last fight. He's a good fighter & deserves a shot."
Considering the facts that Ward has said he isn't prepared to move up to light heavyweight yet, he has beaten the other top fighters at super middleweight -- except for titlist Robert Stieglitz (who is slated for a rubber match with Abraham anyway) -- and the most intriguing middleweight opponent, Gennady Golovkin, is already scheduled for a February fight, I think Ward-Groves makes all the sense in the world.
Ward could face an interesting opponent and stick it to Froch at the same time.
Whether Ward will return to the ring in a timely fashion is another story now that he is suing promoter Dan Goossen to get out of their contract. The litigation could stall Ward's career again, something he should be wary of after two extended breaks for injury since beating Froch in December 2011. This is the second time this year that Ward has tried to break the contract, having previously lost in arbitration with the California State Athletic Commission, which upheld Goossen's agreement.