Super middleweight champion Andre Ward said Thursday that he has a tear in his right shoulder that will require surgery, explaining why he had to cancel his defense against former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.
Ward and Pavlik were scheduled to meet Jan. 26 in the first major HBO fight of 2013 at the Galen Center on the USC campus in Los Angeles.
But after Ward injured the shoulder during a sparring session in late November, the fight was postponed.
Promoter Dan Goossen and HBO 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. But the fight was called off Wednesday when Goossen notified Pavlik promoter Bob Arum that Ward would not be ready.
One day later, Ward made his first public comments about the injury.
"When I first got injured, there was a lot of inflammation, and the MRI was misread by the first radiologist," Ward said in a statement. "I've been doing extensive rehab and the shoulder was getting stronger, but after three-and-a-half weeks of rehab, there was still slight pain that had me concerned enough to get two additional opinions.
"It was then diagnosed that there is a small tear in my shoulder capsule. It's not a major tear, but I can either rest it and see if it heals itself or speed up the process by surgically repairing it, and be stronger than I was before the injury and that's what we opted to do."
Ward, 28, is tentatively scheduled to have surgery late next week in the Bay Area.
"I'm working with one of the best orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists in Northern California, and I know that I will come back stronger than before," said Ward, a native of Oakland, Calif. "I appreciate all the support that I've already received and my fans can rest assured that I'm going to be back in the ring as soon as possible.
"Despite the injury, I still plan to have a big 2013 and hope to have two fights in the New Year."
No timetable was announced for his return.
This is the second injury in the past year that will keep Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), widely viewed as one of the world's best pound-for-pound fighters, out of the ring for an extended period.
Ward unified two 168-pound titles in the final of the Super Six World Boxing Classic last December with a dominant decision victory against Carl Froch to lock up fighter of the year honors.
But Ward fractured his right hand in his final sparring session before the fight. He went through with the bout and won but was limited to just one fight -- largely because of the injury -- in 2012, a dominant 10th-round knockout of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, who came down in weight, on Sept. 8.
"I was really looking forward to the fight with Pavlik," Ward said. "Everything was on board and situations happen, but I wish Kelly Pavlik and his team nothing but the best in the future."
Pavlik manager Cameron Dunkin told ESPN.com on Wednesday that he and Top Rank would begin immediately to look for a significant fight for Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs), 30, of Youngstown, Ohio.