Join Will Cooling tonight for live coverage of the long-awaited and much delayed final of the Super Six World Boxing Classic, as the WBC Champion Carl Froch faces the WBA Champion Andre Ward in Atlantic City. The idea of German promoters Sauerland, Showtime’s innovative boxing tournament kicked-off on the 18th Octobr 2009 with Arthur Abraham knocking out Jermain Taylor and Carl Froch outpointed Andre Dirrell in a close, controvesial fight.
That was the last time Froch fought in his home town of Nottingham, England having then gone on a world tour that’s included stops in Denmark, Finland and America. He dropped a close decision to Mikkel Kessler in the fight of the tournament, demolished Arthur Abraham in a career-best display and decisively outpointed Glen Johnson.
By contrast tonight will be the will be the first time that Ward has fought outside of his homestate of California since June 2008. He shocked the world on 21st November, winning the opening stateside fight of the tournament against the original favorite Kessler. However that fight was marred by accusations that he led with his head. While he has amassed a further three wins and remains the only undefeated fighter in the tournament, his progress has been marred by him being the only fighter to not fight outside his home country and the suspicious withdrawal of his friend and former training partner Dirrell from their planned bout last year.
Controversies aside Ward is in my mind the justified favorite to win tonight, a judgement based on his superior technical skills as a former Olympic gold medalist and Froch’s previous problems with slick, American fighters such as Dirrell and Taylor.
Incidentally I was at the Froch vs. Dirrell fight. Here’s a picture I took on my camera phone that night:
Froch taking the center of the ring from the start, really needs to establish the left jab that so dominated Abraham. They tangle on the inside and Ward lands the telling blow. Referee separate, and Froch is slightly more tentative. Ward getting punches through early on. Froch’s defenses looking ill-suited to matching Ward’s speed. Froch catches Ward with a nice left jab but misses with a wild left hook. Froch being hit fairly easily on the nose in this opener. 10-9 to Ward.
After keeping it clean during the inside exchanges in the last round, Ward clinches up a couple of times early on. Not much evidence of him leaning with the head so far, instead he’s doing a great job of sneaking in tasty quick punches both left hooks and leaping-in right hands. Froch trying to fight cautiously but its not really working. He does do some good work on the body but gets caught by a clubbing counter-left. Fights through it but doesn’t do enough to save the round. 20-18
Froch tries to push on at the start of the round. Froch looking to be more aggressive on the inside but Ward is just so fast with his jab. Jim Watt on Sky’s Commentary makes the good point that Ward has taken charge in the center of the ring, the one thing that Froch would not want to happen. Froch failing to throw the combinations that he did against Johnson, just throwing single power punches that are easily countered by the fast Ward. Ward is looking super-impressive here and puts an exclamation mark on another successful round with a nasty shot to the body. 30-27.
Froch seems badly hurt at the start of Round Four after coming off the worse in a fast exchange of punches at the start of the round. The Brit really is starting to look bedraggled in there with the former Olympian just stopping him mounting any offense whilst landing hard shots at will. One of the things that has always been impressive about Ward is his upper-body strength and he shows that again by successfully bullying Froch as the exchange up close, repeatedly pinning the WBC Champion to the ropes and landing some great short punches. 40-36.
More of the same in the fifth round with Ward just outboxing Froch with ease. He does seem to be slowing down a bit which narrows the advantage but whenever Froch tries to mount some offense he has more than enough energy to repulse the Brit. 50-45
They clinch again with Froch hanging on but Ward getting the right hand through. Froch really is being outmuscled on the inside which is denying him any space to mount offense. He doesn’t have the speed to fight at range against the quicker American and he doesn’t have the strength to fight inside against the stronger American. The only hope would be whether he has the power to knockout Ward but if anyone’s going to get the KO its going to be Ward. Ward is landing some great punches, with that left hook being particularly nasty. 60-54
Ward traps Froch on the ropes at the start of the seventh and really shows serious intent to get the finish, aggressively landing big punches on the inside. Ward is constantly putting himself within the ‘Cobra’s’ reach but the Brit cannot get anywhere near him. Froch looks visibly tired as Ward picks his shots beautifully. The round ends with Ward once again bullying Froch up against the ropes. 70-63
I’m trying to remember a more one-sided major match this year. Even something like Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley had Sugar confound his opponent with successfully negative tactics. Froch seems to be mentally breaking as another round goes to Ward in much the same way as all the others with Froch complaining about a number of imagined slights including an alleged low blow and a punch that came in a split second after the bell. 80-72
Froch tries to force the fight but he just can’t get beyond the resolute defenses of Ward, with the American always able to fight fire with fire. Ward just always manages to connect with beautifully constructed punches that catch Froch on the chin. 90-81
More of the same. Froch just cannot do anything with Ward. The fight has followed the same pattern since the second round with Ward dictating where the fight takes places and landing punches (most notably left hook) at will. This is a brutal schooling. 100-90.
Ward is clearly tired after setting a good pace for most of the past ten rounds but Froch just hasn’t got the energy to capitalize on the dip in his opponent’s performance. Froch bustles inside a couple of time but just cannot regularly land clean punches, leaving Ward to dominate the territory. 110-99
Froch needs a knockout. Froch starts out fast, and certainly seems the stronger in this final round. Froch puts together a flurry but its cut short when Ward drops his gumshield. Froch doing a really good job in this final round but can’t put together the power punches to threaten the knockout. Ward realizes his that he’s in a battle finally, resorting to some of the less edifying tactics he’s used in earlier rounds. Froch being very aggressive but its too little too late, especially as Ward has restored his equilbuim and is boxing better towards the end of the round. Froch’s round to save the shutout on my scorecard but a comprehensive defeat for the Brit. Ward outclassed, outfought and outthought Froch in there tonight and deserves the victory. 119-109 on my scorecard.
The scorecards 115-113, 115-113, 118-110 for Andre Ward. I have no earthly idea how somebody could find 5 rounds to give to Froch – I could see the argument for 4,7,11 and 12 but each of them is really pushing. I’m already second guessing giving him the twelfth. What a ludicrous set of scorecards that put us just one round away from one of the worse robberies in the sport’s history. And bizarrely the only judge to score it right was the British one!