(Tom Casino, Showtime)
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- It was, by turns, boring, exciting, sublime and ugly. Fitting finish for Showtime's Super Six tournament, yeah?
After a two-year grind than ended in a 12-round one, Andre Ward outclassed Carl Froch Saturday to win a unanimous decision and become the lineal super middleweight champion of the world. Ward was utterly too fast, and so much more skilled. The two scorecards that had it 115-113 for Ward were way off; the 118-110 card was far more accurate.
Ward dominated a low-contact first few rounds with his left hook, mostly from the outside, although the 1st round was somewhat close. By the middle rounds, he was thrashing Froch soundly, and you had to wonder how much longer the iron-chinned Brit could stand up to it. But after the 6th, both men's energy level appeared to tail off.
Froch, though, had more in reserve in the late rounds, and he won some of them on sheer aggression. Those late rounds were unfortunately marked by excessive clinching and wrestling. Froch, too, wasn't so terrible inside, how I thought he would be, and was able to hold his own in there when things turned to rabbit punching, head butting and other shenanigans.
Not that it mattered, ultimately. Froch just had a terrible time hitting Ward clean, whose defense is really exceptional. Froch grew increasingly frustrated, even at one point trying to punch Ward after the bell. He admitted as much in post-fight remarks: "He was very tricky. He was slick and elusive and did a good job of keeping himself out of harm's way. It was quite hard to hit him."
Ward said he hurt his left hand in training, then re-injured it the 6th round when he hit Froch on the top of the head. That could explain his fade after that round, and he never really hit Froch as hard with it in the second half of the bout. It couldn't keep him from doing the other things he wanted to do, though. "We told you this is what we wanted to do, we wanted to fight on the inside and on the outside, and we pulled it off tonight," he said. "We were able to beat him to the punch and that's what won us the fight."
Next for Ward, after a long rest, could be Lucian Bute, the last top super middleweight standing. That only a couple thousand or so showed up for this fight -- the announced attendance of 5,626 cannot be taken seriously -- could give Bute a bit more leverage about bringing the bout to his home turf of Montreal. Another option could be a Ward rematch with Mikkel Kessler on Kessler's home soil of Denmark, but I don't want to see that one -- the first fight was pretty conclusive. Ward also might have to defend one of those sanctioning belts of his soon, maybe against Anthony Dirrell.
This tournament has had some excellent moments, some wonderful brawls, like Kessler-Froch, and great drama, like Ward's coming out party against Kessler or Froch redeeming himself after the Kessler loss against Arthur Abraham. It's also had some unpleasant moments, like Abraham's disqualification loss against Andre Dirrell, and some ho-hum moments, like Ward's perfunctory defeat of Abraham. This fight had all of those elements, all wrapped up in one package. It only makes sense.
Ward is the tourney's big winner, both literally and in esteem. His fighting style won't please everyone, to say the least. But there should be no doubt after what he did against Froch Saturday and what he's done in this tournament overall that Ward is one of the ultra-elite boxers in the world. Ward will also probably be the consensus 2011 Fighter of the Year. Thrown into the tournament's fire, he came out of it forged into steel.
Odd to say it, but I think Dirrell could give Ward more problems than anyone else I can think of at the moment.
I thought this fight was really fun in a way. Absolutely amazing to see how dominant Ward was. I don't really see anybody being able to beat him, he's a total beast and he's under 30. Unless something goes seriously wrong, you'd have to think he's destined for greatness.
@ALEXMAC Yeah, fun comes in a lot of ways. Those rounds where Ward was putting it on him were pretty fun. He did allow things to get too ragged late, unfortunately, but I ultimately enjoyed the fight.
I'm a fan of both, now. Froch, because he was outclassed and kept coming. Ward, because he's both skilled and rough. You gotta be rough in this game.
Rumour after the fight that Ward hurt his hand n the 6th. That might explain my observation that he flattened out his performance from the mid-rounds.
@gavaniacono Not a rumor about that hand -- Ward himself said so, and I quoted him on it in the piece.
I like both fighters and will continue to like Froch. Dude gives maximum effort and usually is in fun fights against world-class competition.
I wasn't a Ward fan. The clenching and lack of power made his fights not fun to watch. This fight had me feeling like i was watching a Mayweather fight. It was over after the third round, but I kept watching to see his skill on display. To put it frankly he made Carl Froch look dumb. The "infighting" still bothers me. I don't know if he's clenching or if the way he rushes in leads to clenching, but it's frustrating to watch. However that doesn't take away from his obvious skill. It's amazing how moving your head can be the difference of a good fighter and a great fighter. I wish he had better killer instinct. I felt he could've stopped Froch several times throughout the bout. This win puts Ward in really good position in my pound for pound rankings. Not quite sure where yet but he'll be near the top. He definately has my vote for fighter of the year.
@the legend known as the legend I totally agree that it looked like Ward might've been able to stop Froch. There were times in the Kessler, Green and Abraham fights where I thought the same thing. In all those fights, his opponents didn't cooperate; they showed signs of just trying to survive. But Ward didn't take necessary chances to get those stoppages. It's not in his DNA. This time, I think the hurt hand legitimately hurt his chances of getting the stoppage. All the steam came off his left hook after the 6th.
I loved this fight. Ward is freaking amazing! Where does he end up P4P, out of curiosity? Carl Froch was all class. No,my identity has not been stolen. :)
@beccapooka Answer to your question in the latest update.
Froch WAS all class. He usually isn't. So, you know, you're just doing the rational thing, which is to adjust your opinion of a thing when there are new facts.
Froch wasn't the only one who took a loss in tonight's fight. Showtime and boxing in general was the other big loser. Why? Because once again, because of misguided media planners, or greedy promoters, or the utterly clueless broadcast braintrust who decide what demographic wants to see which event, Showtime opted to show the usual bullshit hagiography about Ward and Froch for an hour, instead of ANY undercards. WTF? When is HBO, Showtime, Top Rank, GBP, and the rest going to figure out that boxing is NEVER going to gain a following of the so-called "general market" if up and coming fighters are only seen by the audiences who are physically at the fight venues. You can read Showtime's thought processes in the proceedings: "Doh, I know, let's lure in the 'general market' (non-Hispanics who don't follow boxing) by making the real main event a bunch of MMA fights headlined by what can only be described as a five second long fight freak show between a former dominatrix and a person of very questionable gender origins (to put it kindly), one Chris Cyborg. Good going guys. Maybe someone with a better understanding of the bullshit mechanics of broadcasting can explain this crap to me.
I spoke to Todd DuBoef in Dallas back when Pacquiao fought Margs, and my compatriot who'd travelled there with me, after listening to Todd extoll the virtues of Top Rank's new "democratizing" web strategy, took me totally off guard after DuBoef walked away. "Karl, can you or someone explain to me why, if they are so into building an audience for boxing, they can't find a way to either broadcast the undercards or at the very least cache video of the fights on Top Rank or Ringtv, or goddamned anywhere?" I had no idea then and I don't now.
@kgberg Every now and then, both Top Rank and RingTV will webcast the occasional undercard. They tend to save it for the big, big cards, though, not these affairs. I wish they'd do it more, of course. If you had told me beforehand someone should webcast THIS undercard, I'd say, "Why? It sucks." But while it looked shitty on paper it had a couple surprisingly good moments, per my write-up, so they got lucky this time -- although it was the "tree falling in the forest that no one heres" effect, too.
@tstarks Well at least it was a good main event, as you noted, a pretty good 12 round retrospective, minus Arthur Abraham's antics