Without further delay, a tournament final
The Earth has circled the sun twice since the Super Six Super Middleweight tournament began with a much appreciated bang on Showtime television.
The tournament was acclaimed and recognized as a remedy for the anonymity suffered by 168-pound weight division. Unfortunately, it’s still suffering. The tournament lost much of its appeal as numerous injuries delayed its completion.
The finals have arrived with undefeated Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) and the holder of the WBA super middleweight title contesting WBC champion Carl Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) on Saturday for the Super Six trophy. Showtime will televise the fight from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
Change in perception of the super middleweight division has not been earth shattering, but the two finalists were not the choice of many to be the survivors. Along the way, Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler, Germany’s Arthur Abraham, and Americans Andre Dirrell and Jermain Taylor faltered.
Froch proved his mettle by plowing through Taylor, Dirrell, Kessler, Abraham and Glen Johnson. Every conceivable boxing style was tossed at him like a blanket of barbed wire and he unraveled nearly all. Only Kessler’s hometown crowd resulted in a defeat for Froch. But he survived and now is in the finals.
On the other corner will be Oakland’s Ward with his blend of speed, power and determination. So far no one has been able to crack the Ward, who gave Kessler his first loss and breezed through Abraham last May in the Home Depot Center. Each opponent was met with few words and more action than expected.
The key to his success has been an ability to adapt.
“If you watch my fights I do a little of everything. I have the wherewithal to make adjustments. To do whatever is necessary to get the victory,” said Ward during a telephone conference call.
Ward has proven to be more than just the fleet-footed 2004 Olympic gold medalist who skipped around the ring and occasionally slapped opponents silly with blistering speed.
“Before Andre emerged to the boxer that he is, he was a fighter,” said Virgil Hunter, who trains Ward. “Over a period of time that he won a gold medal he adapted to the point system. Through the years the fighting (aggressive style) never left him, and I think that’s what surprises people.”
The last of the tournament-delaying injuries was a cut suffered by Ward in October.
Froch continued training and looks forward to solving yet another American speedster. Taylor and Dirrell discovered that Froch knows the American style.
“Styles make fights, it’s an old clichť. I expect Andre Ward to come and box and use his jab. He may come inside and get rounds in there, it’s hard to predict,” said Froch. “I come to fight. I’m going to do everything I need to do to win these two belts.”
Froch fights out of Nottingham, England, and has been unable to captivate the number of rabid fans of his British predecessors Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe. A win over Ward could do the trick. And the postponement may have helped.
“It (the date change) actually went to my favor. I had two weeks break when I heard about Ward’s cut. I’ve been cranking it up pretty good,” said Froch. “The main problem it caused was just my fans had bought tickets. But it seems to have worked in my favor too. There’s great response. More and more people seem to be coming.”
Now will more fans pay attention to the super middleweight division?
FIGHTS ON TELEVISION
Friday: Telefutura, 11:30 p.m., Alan Sanchez (8-2-1) vs. Keandre Gibson (5-0-1).
Saturday: Showtime, 9 p.m., Andre Ward (24-0) vs. Carl Froch (28-1).
Saturday: Showtime, 10:30 p.m., Gilbert Melendez (19-2) vs. Jorge Masvidal (22-6).
WBC super-middleweight titleholder Carl Froch prepares for Super Six Tournament
final against Andre Ward on Saturday
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