After over two years of competition amongst the world’s best Super Middleweights, the tournament’s finale has finally come to fruition. Its two combatants had very different backgrounds and styles in the way they do business. On one side of the spectrum is the 2004 Olympic Gold Medalist, Andre Ward, 27, (25-0, 13 KOs), fighting out of Oakland, California. Ward sports an unblemished dossier, and was the only fighter in the tournament to remain unscathed. After defeating the WBA World Champion, Mikkel Kessler, age, 32(44-2, 33 KOs) Ward captured his first World Championship. After another impressive performance against the brick-handed Arthur Abraham, age, 31 (32-3, 26 KOs) it became abundantly clear that Ward was a force to be reckoned with. Against the top fighters in the division, he can more than hold his own; the question is, is he the best Super Middleweight in the world? Well, if he were to defeat Carl Froch, age, 32 (28-2, 20 KOs) it’d make him the unified Champion of the World and give him the distinction of being “The Man” of the division. Attaining those goals surely had to make Ward a very hungry fighter coming into this bout.
As for the WBC SuperMiddleweight Champion of the World, Carl Froch, fighting out of Nottingham, U.K., his road to the finals in this tournament wasn’t as easy as it was for Andre Ward. Unlike his adversary, Froch didn’t remain undefeated throughout the tournament. In April of last year, Froch lost his WBC World Championship to former Champion, Mikkel Kessler in a 12 round unanimous decision. The following bout for Froch matched him up yet again with another former World Champion, Arthur Abraham. A one-sided bout ensued which redeemed Froch as the WBC Super Middleweight Champion of the World once again. After another tough scrap and unanimous decision victory over the rugged, “been here for way longer than anybody thought I would be” Glen Johnson, age, 42 (51-16-2, 35 KOs) Froch set himself up to advance all the way to the finale. For Froch, the two-time WBC SuperMiddleweight Champion of the World, a win over Ward would do wonders for his status. Ward is a former Gold Medalist, an undefeated fighter who is considered a top-notch pro, and the WBA World Champion. It took a long while and some bizarre occurrences to get to this tournament, but here it was: the last two men left standing were ready to fight for Super Middleweight supremacy.
Despite Froch being an underdog, on paper, this looked to be a pretty competitive, intriguing bout. Unfortunately for Carl Froch and his supporters, this premonition was only on paper. “The new Bernard Hopkins,” as BRB likes to refer to Ward, showed Froch that the classic phrase still holds true: “Speed kills.” Typically, Froch is an extremely effective offensive fighter who throws combinations very well. Against Ward, though, his attempted combinations hit a lot of air. Froch is a fighter who likes to keep his hands down while he’s fighting. While Froch can get away with that against fighters with hand speed as good as or slower than his, against Andre Ward, a man who has faster hands and more precise punches, fighting with hands down just didn’t work. Because Froch holds his hands low at all times, he has been credited with having a great chin. That distinction was attained by getting hit often, which is a fact the U.K.. product admitted himself.
Well, Ward tested that chin again and again, nearly shutting Froch out, and for most of the night, using only his left hand. Ward’s stiff left jabs and left hooks connected all night, leaving Froch bewildered. Ward, for most of the night, actually held his right hand in the holster, which was a bit strange as it seemed he had Froch lined up for the right hand as well. To Froch’s credit as a legitimate top five fighter in his division, he never stopped attempting to press the action, and indeed had his spurts of success. Overall, however, Froch was blunted by Ward’s frustrating style and defense. As for the victor, Andre Ward “S.O.G.,” this win places him at the top of the mountain in the Super Middleweight division since now he is the universally recognized Champion and the unified WBA and WBC World Champion. Ward won the tournament finale via a unanimous decision by the scores of: 115-113, 115-113, and 118-110.
The two judges who scored this bout 115-113 found virtually everyone in disagreement with them as this bout was not a close affair in the slightest; for example, BRB’s scorecard was much more in line with the card which was 118-110 for Ward. There is no doubt that Froch fought like a Champion and showed great grit and determination, but Ward stifled Froch’s attack, to put it simply. What a performance Ward put on. Although he may need to develop use of his right hand to improve his already strong game, Ward is definitely a top pound-for-pound fighter. He made Carl Froch, a very well touted fighter, look ordinary, and that speaks volumes to the young man’s talent. For Ward, all roads lead to the undefeated, unified Champion. There are some serious challengers in his division who will surely look to take the newly crowned Champion’s status, such as undefeated IBF World Champion and Canadian star, Lucian Bute, age, 31 (30-0, 24 KOs) or fellow Olympic teammate, the highly talented Andre Dirrel, whose only loss, mind you, was a disputed one against Carl Froch.
Despite having a letdown against Ward, Froch still has plenty of opportunities abound: a rematch with Mikkel Kessler age, 32 (44-2, 33 KOs) or Andre Dirrel age, 28 (19-1, 13 KOs) would definitely be accepted by the boxing public, and would spark intrigue.
These past few Super Middleweight bouts have been terrific, and I believe this site isn’t alone when it says, “Can we have some more, please?” The Super Middleweight division is talented, strong and thriving; hopefully we can get some more of the top pugilists in the division duking it out in 2012.