Negotiations are underway to match The Ring, WBA, WBC and super middleweight champ Andre Ward against recovering former WBC, WBO and The Ring Magazine middleweight titlist Kelly “The Ghost” Pavlik on February 23 at a venue to be determined.

"Kelly wants the fight. He has wanted the fight. Andre Ward is the best fighter in the world at this weight and Kelly said he wants a big fight and to face the best opponents,” said Pavlik promoter Bob Arum, a corruptible weasel who acknowledged during a 2000 federal trial that he bribed the International Boxing Federation (IBF) to attain a higher ranking for one of his fighters.

Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), a Bay Area native who became the first American to capture boxing gold in eight years as a light heavyweight at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, easily retained his belts by battering formidable Ring Magazine and WBC light heavyweight titleholder “Bad” Chad Dawson en route to achieving a 10th round TKO on September 8 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.

Prior to dominating Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs), “The Son of God” unified two belts and won The Super Six World Boxing Classic when he trumped Carl Froch by unanimous decision on December 17 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.

The 28-year-old Ward, voted in the wintertime as the 2011 “Fighter of the Year” by the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA), has unbelievably not vacated the squared circle on the losing end of a bout since he was a 12-year-old amateur.

“The Son of God,” currently rated by Ring Magazine as the fifth pound-for-pound boxer in the world, is now in position to become a national superstar and household name like fellow American gold medalists Muhammad Ali, “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya.

Roger "Pit" Perron is a venerable boxing trainer from Brockton (Mass.) who now works with Mike and Rich Cappiello at their gym, Cappiello Brothers Boxing and Training.

Perron praised Ward and predicts “The Son of God” will outclass all challengers for the foreseeable future.

“Ward clearly sticks out in the division,” said Perron, 75, who worked with International Boxing Hall of Famer Marvelous Marvin Hagler at the Petronelli Brothers Gym. “He had just a great performance his last time out. There’s no telling when, or if, he’ll next lose.”

Conversely, Pavlik (40-2, 34 KOs), who on June 8 bludgeoned a mouthy Scott “Cujo” Sigmon en route to a seventh round TKO victory, battled for the third time in 2012 in July when he earned a unanimous decision triumph over  “Power” Will Rosinsky on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” card at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

To date, “The Ghost,” whose only losses as a professional came at the hands of legendary pugilist Bernard Hopkins (52-5-2-1, 32 KOs) and 2010 “Fighter of the Year” Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 25 KOs), has maintained his pledge to remain active and avoid trouble.

Pavlik, who was arrested in December after crashing his all-terrain vehicle in an allegedly intoxicated state into a telephone pole and lamp post, has long battled alcoholism and in January 2011 he left the Betty Ford Clinic for the second time.

In addition to his issues with alcohol, Pavlik also underwent two major surgeries on his left hand in 2009 to mend a stubborn staph infection that placed his overall health in grave jeopardy.

Many analysts believed a rested, healthy and sober Pavlik could regain his prowess in the ring.

Alarmingly, The (Youngstown, Ohio) Vindicator newspaper reported Pavlik was involved in a drunken fracas with his brother at his parents’ home in August 2011.

“The Ghost” apparently fled before the fuzz arrived and his bloodied sibling declined to press charges against the tipsy slugger.

According to police reports, the tormented 30-year-old pugilist “punched the west-facing side door of the home and pulled his brother, Michael, out of the broken window.”

Official police records also noted that the two brothers were boozing when the violence erupted.

Last autumn, Pavlik’s lifelong trainer, Jack Loew, revealed to SI.com he split with the erstwhile superstar he taught to fight at the age of nine out of his South Side Boxing Club.

Still, despite a slew of changes, Pavlik’s aggressive schedule is prudent and extremely encouraging.

Jeff Lyons is a boxing fanatic who possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of The Sweet Science.

The native South Bostonian admitted to being excited for Pavlik.

“I’m really happy for Pavlik,” said Lyons, 32. “His comeback has been a real feel good story. With that said, Ward is extremely good. With Ward’s resume, when it’s all said and done, we are looking at a top 20 all-time boxer.”

Unfortunately for Pavlik, who lost the prime of his boxing career to the evils of firewater, “Ward is the best fighter in the world.”

Provided the prizefight is cemented, Andre Ward will overwhelm, and embarrass, Kelly Pavlik this winter.