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Andre Ward vs. Kelly Pavlik on Jan. 26

Andre Ward, right, connects with a right punch

Andre Ward, right, connects with a right punch to the head of Carl Froch,of England, in the Super Six super middleweight tournament boxing final in Atlantic City N.J., Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011. Ward retained his WBA championship and won the WBC super middleweight belt for defeating Froch in a unanimous decision. ( AP Photo/Rich Schultz) Credit: AP Photo/RICH SCHULTZ

Kelly Pavlik has never been afraid to fight anyone, particularly early in his career. The “Ghost” has fought Jermain Taylor, Bernard Hopkins, Edison Miranda and Marco Antonio Rubio.

Pavlik hopes to add to that list of quality fighters when he takes on WBA and WBC super middleweight champion Andre Ward at the Galen Center on USC’s campus in Los Angeles, CA on January 26 live on HBO’s Championship Boxing.

Ward, considered by most to be the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, is unlike any opponent Pavlik has faced. Ward is calculating, defensive and rarely makes mistakes. Aside from his unblemished record of 26-0, Ward has defeated many of boxing’s best in recent years, including Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham and Chad Dawson.

"Andre Ward's a hell of a world champ," said Pavlik, who's trained by California-based Robert Garcia. "He's the super middleweight king right now. He went through a tough tournament and proved where he's at. He beat everybody that he was supposed to fight and he's top dog. When I was champ, I was the one being pursued. Now he's champ and I'm in hot pursuit."

Pavlik’s career has taken a detour since his consecutive wins against Taylor in 2008. He lost a lopsided decision to Hopkins, pulled out of a fight against Paul Williams and was dominated by Sergio Martinez.

But Ward isn’t the type of fighter who underestimates an opponent. Expect the 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist to be on top of his game.

Said Ward: "I've heard all the talk about Kelly Pavlik, but I know better than that. He's beaten plenty of the big names. Bob Arum has done a great job of keeping Kelly busy until an opportunity like this came along. You can bet that a former world champion like Kelly Pavlik, being afforded another title shot...he's going to be primed and ready. We are going to be ready too and it's going to be a tremendous show."

"Kelly Pavlik has been determined to get back onto the top of the heap in boxing," said his promoter and Top Rank boss Bob Arum. "I know he's ready to give it his all against one of the best champions today. I really believe this will be an exciting, competitive fight."

The co-featured bout is Chris Arreola (35-2, 30 KOs) against Bermane "B. Ware" Stiverne (22-1-1, 20 KOs) in a 12-round heavyweight bout.

New York Sports