One of the big "selling points" on Nick Diaz's potential boxing career has been the fact that he has sparred with WBA super middleweight champ Andre Ward on multiple occasions. Several people have pointed out that someone on Ward's level would not "waste his time" sparring with someone who isn't good. I say "not so fast" to that statement, but we'll get back to that in a moment.
"I appreciate and admire [Diaz's] courage," Ward told ESPN.com, while in Las Vegas to watch Manny Pacquiao's recent win over Shane Mosley. "It remains to be seen how well he'll do, though.
"Nick has good hands, some of the best hands in MMA. But professional boxing is totally different. Totally different."
The article says that Ward confirmed that he has sparred with Nick "six or seven time" always for multiple rounds.
There are a few things to point out about how sparring works. First off, the guys that are specifically "brought in" to spar for a fighter's training camp are the guys that are supposed to push them in specific ways (Rashad Holloway is a great example of a "professional sparring partner"). It doesn't sound like Diaz was brought in specifically to prepare Ward but was probably given the chance to do it on a few occasions in the same way you'd see in a lot of boxing gyms. I mean, no one should take Bellator heavyweight Josh Burns' experience sparring with a Klitschko as proof that he's got some sort of great career in boxing. Just like we all had the good sense to know that, despite claims from the camp, James Toney was not submitting guys left and right.
This isn't to say that Diaz has no ability to box or that he can't beat Lacy. But when I read those quotes from Ward they don't read like someone who thinks very highly of Nick's technique. I've talked to a few other boxers who have had the chance to spar with Nick (and in one case Nick and Nate) and they all basically leave it at "they're tough as hell and are always coming forward." Very similar to Ward's statements in the article.
I'm very interested in the Diaz vs. Lacy fight. It's going to be a great test of where Nick's boxing is. But I'm just trying to act as the voice of reason. I'm sure it comes across as me being negative, but it's just reality.
And for those interested in Ward. He'll be fighting Arthur Abraham in the Super Six semi-finals this Saturday on Showtime. You can read all about that fight at Bad Left Hook.