LAS VEGAS -- Andre Ward had just been awarded a unanimous decision victory against Sergey Kovalev to claim his three light heavyweight world title belts on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena when the topic turned to Ward's ring future.
At the end of his post-fight news conference Ward was asked if he would ever consider moving up to the heavyweight division, where it is rare for a light heavyweight to find success. All-time greats such as Roy Jones Jr., Michael Spinks and Bob Fitzsimmons won world titles in both weight classes, but they are the exception. Other greats such as Archie Moore and Bob Foster failed when they moved up.
Boxing's marquee division does interest Ward (31-0, 15 KOs), whose win over Kovalev (30-1-1, 26 KOs) was tinged in controversy because Ward, who got knocked down in the second round, was given winning scores of 114-113 on all three judges' scorecards even though the majority of media had Kovalev winning a close fight.
Ward, however, said any move up to heavyweight would have to be the right situation. He ruled out facing giants of the division such as world titleholders Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, enormous men who would have huge height and weight advantages.
"There's certain guys you don't mess with and those guys are too big," Ward said. "I respect them, but you got to find the right opponent and the right situation. So maybe one day, maybe not, but not those two."
Ward said if he made the move, he would instead look to follow in the footsteps of Jones, who was the undisputed light heavyweight world champion when he moved up to heavyweight for a shot at John Ruiz, a solid but unspectacular heavyweight who had a world title belt.
Jones, who built himself into a rock-solid 193-pound fighter under the guidance of famed strength and conditioning coach Mackie Shilstone -- who also worked with Ward to prepare him for Kovalev -- easily outboxed the much slower and stationary 226-pound Ruiz to take his heavyweight belt in 2003 before returning to light heavyweight.
"Listen, I've talked about this a lot and I know it sounds crazy. I know it does," Ward said. "But I feel like I have a Roy Jones-type of situation in me before my career is over. And I have a great guy to do it with, Mackie Shilstone, but it's got to be the right guy. I'm not going to let my ego get in the way."
Ward's future is at light heavyweight for the time being, however. Kovalev exercised his right to an immediate rematch with Ward, so that will apparently be his next fight in the first half of 2017.
HBO, which carried Kovalev-Ward on pay-per-view, will air a replay of the fight Saturday (10:35 p.m. ET/PT) along with live coverage of junior lightweight titleholder Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1, 4 KOs) making his first defense against fellow former featherweight titlist Nicholas "Axe Man" Walters (26-0-1, 21 KOs) at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.