After many twists, turns, wars, upsets and withdrawals, Showtime’s Super Six super middleweight tournament will finally crown its winner when Britain’s Carl Froch takes on American Andre Ward at the Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey on Saturday 17th December 2011.
Originally scheduled for October 29th at the same location, the fight was put back after WBA champion Ward suffered an injury in training. Delaying the fight will only create more anticipation for an intriguing fight with classic boxer-versus-puncher potential.
WBC champion Froch made to the final by winning a majority decision over Jamaican-born US warrior Glen Johnson at the same venue. It was a workmanlike performance, with Froch arguably eyeing up the bigger fish he would be meeting in the final. Nevertheless, he was in command throughout (despite one judge scoring the fight 114-114) and got the win.
Ward’s route to the final came with a virtual shutout points win over the tournament’s biggest disappointment, Arthur Abraham. The Armenian was dominated by Froch in his previous tournament battle, and his confidence was gone by the time Ward showed him the exit.
It can be argued that Andre Ward is the surprise of the tournament. Mikkel Kessler was the tournament favourite coming in, and he was dominated by Ward in the first round. A cut eventually led to a technical decision victory for Ward, and suddenly all bets were off. Given that Kessler then defeated Froch by unanimous decision, it looked like anybody could win the trophy on any given night. Since that win, Kessler, Jermaine Taylor and Andre Dirrell have left the tournament for different reasons, and replacements Johnson and Allen Green have both been dispatched.
A Froch-Ward final makes perfect sense, and an exciting prospect. We still haven’t really seen Ward in a punishing fight where he has to dig deep to win. This is partially down to his brilliance and command of the ring, but also down to timing. It could be argued that he caught Kessler at the right time, and that Froch fought the wrong fight against the Dane, making him look better than he actually was. Defeating Allen Green on points doesn’t look that great when you consider Johnson knocked Green out in the eighth round in his next fight. As for Abraham, he had lost to Dirrell and Froch in his previous fights, and only made the semis because of the three points he scored by knocking out the shell of Jermaine Taylor. That is not to take away from Ward’s performances, which have been excellent. It could come down to the fact that he’s just too good.
This fight will provide the answer.
The only thing we can guarantee in this fight is that Ward will finally be involved in a punishing fight. Froch is an absolute monster in the ring, and makes you fight hard for 36 minutes of a contest. He stopped Jermaine Taylor when behind on points with just 14 seconds left in their fight; such is his determination to win. If you step off the gas for a second, you will be punished. ‘The Cobra’ has also showed excellent boxing skills though. After the 12 round war with Kessler (that resulted in the former champ pulling out of the tournament because of injuries suffered in the contest) saw the decision go against him, Froch shocked everybody by using his brain and out-smarted and out-boxed Abraham in his next fight. The jab, non-existent in the Kessler fight, kept Abraham at bay all night long.
It was a virtuoso performance. Froch’s trainer Rob McCracken told The Daily Mail that he favoured his man to win because he’s had the tougher fights throughout his career. He said: “Carl and Ward have pretty much proved themselves as the two best in the division. Carl definitely has, and we feel he’s done more in the division than Andre has.”
“We’re expecting a fantastic fight between two tremendous boxers.”
Whatever happens in the ring, the Super Six tournament has been the making of both men, and should be held in high esteem for creating an environment in which the best fighters fight each other, regardless of politics, and that is a lesson to be learned across the whole landscape of boxing.