Is Andre Ward the second coming of Roy Jones?

Credit: Will Hart - HBO

Much to the dismay of hardcore Roy Jones fans, several weeks ago I posed the question of whether Andre Ward was greater than RJJ. That question takes on renewed interest and important in the wake of Andre Ward’s stoppage win over light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson, as Ward’s victory puts him clearly on the path to eclipsing Roy Jones.

Ward TKOs “Bad” Chad

Credit: Will Hart - HBO

Only one factor mitigates the importance of Ward’s 10th Round TKO win over Chad Dawson, the WBC 175 lbs champion and divisional top dog, namely that Dawson had to come down in weight for the fight. Although Dawson isn’t a huge light heavyweight, and he did not point the finger of blame to making 168 lbs for his performance on Saturday, dropping the extra seven pounds had to take something out of Bad Chad. That something might have made the difference between the late stoppage and surviving the fight.

Even so, two things stand out about Ward’s win. Foremost is that Ward did to Dawson what Ward does to everyone: adapt to and take away his opponent’s best attributes. Dawson had no tactical answers for Ward, so it is hard to imagine the outcome being substantially different if the fight had been for Dawson’s WBC belt instead of Ward’s pair of super middleweight titles.

Also, even assuming Dawson wasn’t 100% Saturday night, he did not look anything like the drained, noticeably lethargic James Toney on that fateful night in 1994 when Roy Jones totally out-classed him. Some pundits are comparing Ward’s win over Dawson to Jones’ win over Toney; I say the Ward win was even more impressive, because Dawson was a much greater physical threat than the weight-weakened, cheeseburger-loving 1994 version of Toney, and unlike Toney, Dawson didn’t see the final bell.

Comparing Ward and Jones

The comparison between Ward and Jones is an interesting one, because while both men make/made scoring big wins look easy, only Ward has made a practice of seeking out the best guys available.

One of the great things about the super middleweight division since the early 1990s is that the weight class has produced a consistently good crop of world class talent. Talent-wise, I think the era of Jones, Toney, Eubank and Benn is about on the same level as the modern era of Ward, Froch, Kessler and Bute. There were plenty of world class and fringe contenders in both periods. The difference is that the only world class guy Jones fought was Toney, who was already past his best, and a couple of fringe contenders (Malinga, Lucas). By contrast, Ward has gone halfway to cleaning out the division.

Adding insult to injury is the plain fact that the light heavyweight division is stronger today than it was during Jones’ late 1990s and early ’00s run. The prime 175-pound RJJ feasted on the likes of a faded Virgil Hill, a blown-up Reggie Johnson, and a limited Lou Del Valle. Modern contenders like Jean Pascal, Tavoris Cloud and Nathan Cleverly are as good or better than that crowd, with Chad Dawson standing a notch above that.

In beating Dawson, Andre Ward made a clear and striking statement for his legacy. All he needs to do now is go up to 175, claim two or three belts, and he has eclipsed Jones’ record in that fighter’s two main weight classes.

A Heavyweight Title?

The sole thing the denizens of Jonestown have left to use for Kool Aid in their “Roy Jones is the greatest ever” cult is Jones’ heavyweight title. I’ve already seen them crowing “Ha ha! Ward can’t possibly beat a Klitschko, so he can’t claim a heavyweight title!” on fan forums. Don’t be too sure about that.

While it is true that Ward wouldn’t stand a chance against either Klitschko brother, Ward is 28 and Klitschko the Younger is 36. All Ward needs to do is busy himself at 168 and 175, continue improving, and wait a few years. By then, the Klitschko brothers will have retired and left the heavyweight picture in pieces. Andre Ward could easily find an opening to square off with Tomasz Adamek, Eddie Chambers, Bryant Jennings, Alexander Povetkin or any of the non-giant class of heavyweights. It isn’t inconceivable that where Roy Jones once went, Andre Ward can go and do even better.

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9 comments

  1. anybody who says that dawson is not physically drain during the ward fight is surely suffering from an eye defect. andre of today can never defeat tney nor jones in their prime, simply watching the fights of these two great boxers in their pesk years will easily support this claim provided that the viewer knows boxing realistically…

    • Listen to you guys squeal. You’re worse than the Pactards and Floydiots. Man has it right. You all in Jonestown, drinking the Kool Aid.

  2. Compairing ward to jones now is just not realistic. Ward is a great fighter but it is too early to even but him in the same league. Will he be better than jones mabe do i think he will no. U see this is the thing with jone he may have fought in a weak era but u cant deny just how easy jone walked through everyone. And in a heads up fight i wouldnt pick anyone over a prime jones from middle to heavyweight he was just that fast. In time ward will be atg im sure but better than roy i dont think so

  3. Ward as heavyweight champ? This is crazy! Before anyone entertains this thought, he should first ask Ward to take Dawson’s built at lightheavyweight. Whether you like it or not the fact remains that Dawson was drained last Sunday. If Ward is really that good, then he should return the compliment to Dawson by fighting him at his natural weight at 175. If he doesn’t fight Dawson at 175, then you have no business comparing him to Jones!

    • Here’s another example of someone who thinks “my ignorance trumps your knowledge!”

      I bet you didn’t know Andre Ward is naturally a bigger man than Roy Jones. Ward went to the Olympics as a light heavy, or 178.5 lbs. He went down to super middle for his pro career. Jones was a LIGHT MIDDLEWEIGHT (156.5 lbs) at the Olympics, and moved UP from there. Then there are the physical measurements, either at the same age or from absolute terms. War is a bigger guy, but of course, none of you people actually bothered with learning that. Or anything.

      And now you are going to sit there and say that Ward couldn’t sneak in and grab a heavyweight belt Jones-style because he is TOO SMALL?

  4. Ward is not quite there yet. But he has the tools to be at the future p4p tops.

  5. One thing that makes Ward overwhelmingly the superior of Roy Jones is where his success comes from. Ward isn’t the fastest guy around or the most powerful, but he has outstanding skills and a magnificent, all-time great brain for tactics.

    Jones relied on speed to win, and when that speed went away, he sucked. He sucked rotten tomatoes, he was so awful. Ward relies on guile and cleverness, and those two things aren’t going away. Never ever.

  6. ward not yet ben proven as of today its to early…
    joe calsaghe is the best middlewieght
    in compareson to jones its to far in skills stamina quickness power roy jones have it all…in his prime
    stil manny is the number one p4p best in the world today

  7. I wouldn’t say second coming of RJJ, i would say second coming of BHop. Similar qualities in style but more lead rights from bernard. Also, RJJ and Andre Ward are in the same league for those who say he’s not needs to watch more Andre Ward. Ward went from fighting grade B fighters straight to the major leagues and dismantled all of them, then went on to taking on p4p ranked chad dawson. So if that doesn’t put him in the same league i dont know what does.

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