WBA Super Middleweight Champion Andre Ward meets his WBC counterpart Carl 'The Cobra' Froch of England with the winner taking the tournament, the Ring Magazine Super Middleweight title and the right to fight their IBF counterpart Lucian Bute to decidedly prove who is the best super middleweight in the world.
In his eighth year of professional boxing, the 2004 Olympic Gold winner Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KO) has had a curious slow developing career that includes only 24 contests. Only in the last two years has the level of competition and competence begun to stand out from the crowd.
The self-proclaimed 'S.O.G.' had a lot of exposure coming out of those Olympics and been developed slowly. But Oakland, California's only world champ has come on significantly in his last four contests, starting with his one-sided, title-winning beatdown of Denmark's Mikkel Kessler who was considered the second best super middleweight in the world to Joe Calzaghe. He has since beaten Allan Green, Sakio Bika and Arthur Abraham all by decision to enter the final of this tourney.
Ward is a boxer-puncher who switches from orthodox to lefty and fights in both styles during his contests. He is a good puncher but as the level of opposition has risen he now tends to go the distance in fights. Possessing a good jab and an excellent hook and right hand, Ward has been accused by some of using his head and elbows as additional weapons (read Kessler...).
At age 27, Ward is almost at the peak of his powers. He has a world of confidence and is not afraid of fighting anyone despite being accused of fighting in his hometown far too often.
Carl Froch (28-1, 20 KO), the Nottingham hard man has only one loss in his glittering 28-1 (20) log compliments of the above mentioned two-time world champ Mikkel Kessler. He is more orthodox in the ring, moves in and out well, posseses a solid jab and has an amazing tendency to keep rounds very close - even the ones he loses.
At 6'1" and with a 75" reach he has an inch in height and four inches in reach on Ward and it might be even more pronounced as you watch the fight as Ward tends to lean forward into a crouch at times while Carl stands straight up in the European style. Except for his last two contests against the old veteran Glen Johnson and Arthur Abraham he, Froch has been involved in a series of close encounters with excellent opposition.
Froch knocked out Jermain Taylor in the final round behind on the scorecards but lost a close nod to Kessler in front of Kessler's hometown crowd in a fight Froch believes he should have won. He took the unbeaten records away from both Jean Pascal and Andre Dirrell. And like Ward, Froch has also enjoyed home field advantage as he's fought many times in his own hometown of Nottingham where he is wildly popular. But he is 34 years old now and been through some tough wars.
There will definitely be two different styles meeting up on Saturday night. Ward will look to apply constant pressure and keep the fight at close quarters while Carl will deploy his in-and-out style while throwing punches in bunches. Expect a distance fight that will be extremely close at the final bell.
Prediction: Ward wins by a close unanimous nod or possibly by majority or even split decision.
It should be a heck of a show to watch.
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