Super Six: Ward now Dr. ‘Dre as he dominates Froch with a masterclass in the sweet science

18 Dec

Alan Dawson – London

Andre Ward preserved his undefeated record, unified his WBA super middleweight world championship with the WBC title and claimed the Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament cup with a masterclass straight out of the boxing textbook as fellow finalist Carl Froch was reduced to second best in almost every round of their history-making bout on Saturday, December 17 at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.

Direct link to article.

Dawson’s scorecard

Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Ward
10 10 10 10 9 10 10 10 10 10
10 10
Froch
9 9 9 9 10 9 9 9 9 9 9 10

Official verdict: 115-113, 115-113, 118-110.

Froch’s reception was not something to be desired. The gladiatorial Nottingham-native’s route to super stardom was hard-fought and, at the Boardwalk Hall, after over 26 months-worth of competition, he was standing in the ring that would be home to his biggest night of boxing, yet there were more jeers than cheers. The American welcome did not rattle the Cobra, who entered the ring sporting a cool demeanour prior to fist-bumping ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr.

America’s last Olympic gold medalist, Ward, who obtained top honours at the 2004 Games, made his ring-walk second, clad in a white robe with blue trim and got an overdue hero’s applause. It was one he had been fighting for and was perhaps expectant of having returned home from Athens with gold seven years ago (like Oscar de la Hoya and Sugar Ray Leonard had done before him), but one that was not bestowed onto him.

Whether he would be able to secure an even greater achievement and consequently attract higher acclaim, would be discovered over a maximum of 12 highly-anticipated rounds.

There were no punches landed in the first 30 seconds but it was Froch who commanded the centre of the ring and, with body language and movement alone, maneuvered Ward onto the outside and the backfoot. A gunslinger by trade, Froch’s posture and stance was no different against Ward as he kept that left fist low, at waist-level, ready to shoot from his hip. Midway through the round, Froch attempted to throw a right over the top but it completely missed the target. In the third minute of the opening stanza, Ward attempted a hook but that was evaded by Froch who then missed with a punch of his own. There was little to separate the two combatants from the opening section of action… Froch occupied the position of the ring general, but Ward had a jab with a strong connection rate, something the Englishman was yet to provide a suitable defence against.

In the second round, exchange rates were more numerous compared to the first and it was because the gap between the two had shortened and they began boxing on each each others toes. Ward kept his dukes high when in close which provided a suitable shield and, when at mid-range or on the outside, simply took half or full steps back in order to make Carl miss when Froch attempted to close the gap. Ward’s speed of fist, boxing IQ, movement and accuracy proved to be traits that Froch struggled to work around yet by the end of play in the second, took some of Ward’s attributes away with punch volume.

By the third round, Ward had begun to fight for the centre of the ring and was winning the jabbing contest. His was well thought out and precise compared to Froch’s wild lead punch. One of the problems opponents encounter against fighters like Floyd Mayweather Jr and Andre Ward – both undefeated and, arguably under-appreciated – is that it looks easier to box them from the outside looking in and, for Froch, a lesson was being learned that it was more arduous than he had planned to even land cleanly on Ward, let alone knock the guy down and out.

Froch’s fistic attention was largely dealt to Ward’s midsection – an area that he had been able to locate with a greater ease than the head. The battle for the centre of the ring had truly switched by the fourth as Ward was the one taking the forward steps, looking to draw Froch into making a punch so that he had something to avoid and then counter-attack. Froch, in contrast, took back-steps and came out second-best when the two engaged in an inside exchange of heavy leather as his work-rate paled in comparison to Ward. The American’s punch of the fight had been a left hook… something he closed the round with to seal another ten score.

Pre-fight, the general consensus amongst leading boxing professionals and fight fans alike was that a distance fight favoured only one man – Ward, who could easily box his way to a decision as he had shown in each and every one of his 24 pro bouts, yet Froch retained that ‘puncher’s chance’; something he had shown against Jermain Taylor when he was 14 seconds away from losing a decision, but ended up flooring the former middleweight champion in order to secure himself a knockout victory.

Ward’s display during the opening four to five rounds was so convincing, that it seemed like Froch’s only way to gain the Super Six cup would be to do to Ward what he did to Taylor. Froch was not seen as a prizefighter who could out-boxer the boxer in Ward, but in the closing minute of the fifth that is precisely what he did and, because he performed so admirably at the round’s end, could have been enough to gain the edge on each of the ringside scorers’ cards but it would do an injustice to Ward’s comfort-level throughout the two minutes prior.

The sixth round was slightly untidier than the cleaner action that had preceded it as there was more tying up and entanglement during the opening minute. For the remainder of the round, Ward tagged Froch with left hooks, left jabs, short-range right uppercuts and closed the gap to force an inside battle. When they broke up the phone-box fight, Ward crunched a huge left off Froch’s face.

Froch forced a higher tempo in the seventh. It was a welcome change in tactics from the blue corner who had seen that their initial game-plan was second best for the near entirety for the first half of the fight. That will to raise his game though was beaten back down by Ward’s sheer precision, ability to absorb, stay smart and out-box on the outside and out-muscle Froch when they went inside.

It was more of the same from Ward in the eighth, out-classing, out-hustling, dominating and frustrating Froch whose nose was reddening with every jab he took. Froch ate a heavy left square on his chin in the ninth before returning with his own right hand but, regardless of his own pre-fight bluster about putting Ward on his ass, it was Andre who looked to be landing the heavier – more telling – leather. The key statistic of the fight, and one which highlights the difference between the two world champions, was accuracy: Ward commanded a 48 percent hit rate while Froch lagged with a 21 percent rate.

Froch attempted to chase Ward down in the 11th round as Ward moved laterally and from side to side. Froch was made to look like the inferior fighter in terms of boxing intelligence as, instead of cutting the ring off, he hopelessly followed Ward who was acting like the Pied Piper. Heading into the final round, it may have been Ward who dubbed himself Son of God but it was Froch who needed an answered prayer and even divine intervention just to win a round, let alone secure a knockout that, after the opening rounds of action, looked unlikely to occur. Ward picked his shots well in the final round, powering a right fist into Froch’s skull, inspiring the Englishman to get so desperate that he began fighting a touch dirty, ensuring referee Steve Smoger had to remind Froch there was only one minute left – keep it clean.

When the final bell was run, the body language told the story of the fight. Froch, with his shoulders slumped, turned his back on his opponent and returned to his corner. Ward immediately rose his arm in triumph. When the judges scorecards were revealed, surprisingly, it was only the Englishman who saw a fight as convincing as those at ringside and watching at home did, with Ward only losing two. The American and Canadian judge deemed it a tight affair with only two points in it. Regardless, the right man won – Ward, who not only holds two major alphabet titles now, is the clear number one in the division, but has a bounty of highly lucrative options ahead of him that could include a further unification bout against fellow undefeated fighter Lucian Bute, or an all-American tactical classic with ageless wonder Bernard Hopkins.

A two-year tournament finally came to a close and Ward closed the competition like he entered and fought through it, by out-boxing everyone that challenged him whilst rarely losing a round. With victory, he rose to 25-0-0, 13ko, while Froch suffered the second loss of his own proud career and dropped to 28-2-0, 20ko.

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One Response to “Super Six: Ward now Dr. ‘Dre as he dominates Froch with a masterclass in the sweet science”

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  1. On The Beak boxing news: 2011 « On The Beak - January 10, 2012

    […] Super Six: Ward now Dr. ‘Dre as he dominates Froch with a masterclass in the sweet science […]

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