Super middleweight champion Andre Ward injured his right shoulder in a sparring session last week and has been forced to postpone a Jan. 26 defense against former middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.
"He felt a little tweak when he threw a punch and stopped immediately," Ward's promoter, Dan Goossen, told ESPN.com on Thursday. "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 (on Friday). 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., one of boxing's elite pound-for-pound fighters, was due to make his sixth title defense against Pavlik on HBO's "World Championship Boxing" at the Galen Center on the campus of USC in Los Angeles.
Goossen said the delay in disclosing the postponement occurred because "we were trying to get as many opinions as we could as far as the healing process. He was looking forward to Jan. 26. He'll have to rest it, but we are in the process of trying to reschedule the fight now."
Goossen said he hopes to keep the fight at the Galen Center, which would be hosting its first boxing event. The initial target date for the rescheduled fight is Feb. 23, Goossen said.
With the main event postponed, so too is the rest of the card. The co-feature was a heavyweight world title elimination fight between Cristobal Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs) and Bermane Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs) with the winner becoming the mandatory challenger for titleholder Vitali Klitschko.
The shoulder has given Ward problems in the past, but nothing painful enough to force a fight to be postponed. He injured it during a sparring session with Oakland pro Tony Hirsch, Goossen said.
"Speaking to Andre about it, he said he has had nagging pain in his shoulder since he was a young kid, but nothing to the extent of what he felt this last time," Goossen said.
Ward unified two 168-pound titles last December by winning the Super Six World Boxing Classic by dominating England's Carl Froch in a decision win. That fight had been postponed for several weeks after Ward suffered a cut in sparring. And in his final sparring session before the fight, Ward fractured his right hand, yet went through with the bout and won.
That injury, in part, is what limited 2004 Olympic gold medalist Ward (26-0, 14 KOs) to just one fight this year, a dominant 10th-round knockout of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, who came down in weight, on Sept. 8.
"We've seen Andre fight through pain with a broken hand as recently as the Froch fight," Goossen said. "If he says it's painful and the prescription is to rest the arm, that's what he will do."
Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs), 30, of Youngstown, Ohio, held the middleweight championship from 2007 to 2010.