Froch vs Ward: Head to HeadWritten by Joseph Herron
Occasionally in boxing, fans of the sweet science are treated to a perfect storm personified.
Since the Super Six Tournament's commencement on October 17th, 2009, we've seen two fighters grow from fringe attractions to legitimate boxing draws. It has been an interesting journey to witness Super WBA titlist Andre Ward and WBC Champion Carl Froch both expand their perceived limitations and exceed their initial repute within the packed Super Middleweight division.
With this mega-bout at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, on Saturday night, both men find themselves on the cusp of true boxing stardom, so expect both 168 pound Champions to leave everything in the ring and attempt to capture the imagination of the entire boxing universe.
Both fighters are mentally and physically strong and can box as well as brawl. This Super 6 super fight features everything for every type of boxing fan. The superb match-up will have moments which appeal to the chess fan as well as the barbarian.
What the world of boxing features tonight on Showtime premium movie network at 9PM EST during a free preview weekend is a potential instant classic between two versatile combatants who are coincidently world champions.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the perfect storm.
But, will this super bout actually live up its super hype and super potential?
On April 1st, 2006, former WBO Champion Relentless Lamon Brewster defended his title against the quietly regarded but live underdog Sergei "White Wolf" Liakhovich on another Showtime free preview weekend.
As most recognize today, that breathtaking fight marks the last truly great championship contest within the heavyweight division.
Will this free preview weekend on Showtime premium cable network spawn the same terrific drama that took place over 5 years ago?
There's only one way to find out whether or not the drama within the ring will supersede the excitement leading into the fight.
Let's analyze both fighters and go head to head!!
Tale of the Tape
Carl Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) – Born in Nottingham, England, this 6' 1" orthodox fighter has shown numerous dimensions to his craft over the course of his last six fights and has proven to the world that he is more than just a banger. The 34 year old pugilist has a 75 inch reach and brings a record of 28-1 with 20 knock-outs into this Saturday's fight.
Although Froch has power in both hands, his greatest weapon is his iron will and overall ring intelligence. "The Cobra" proved in his last two fights against Arthur Abraham and Glencoffe Johnson that he "knows when to hold 'em and knows when to fold 'em".
Froch has shown great discipline in executing his fight plan throughout every round of his previous two bouts within the tournament. He was never baited into a firefight with both men, but showed enough physical toughness and potent offense to command respect in the ring. He knows he has a great chin but also knows that he doesn't have to test it when he isn't required to do so.
Can he show that same type of discipline against a top pound for pound fighter like Andre Ward and get the victory, or will Froch be forced to let his hands go and become the effective aggressor once again?
This is the enigma which stands in front of Carl Froch tonight. The two-time WBC Super Middleweight Champ faces an opponent who is a virtual chameleon in the ring.
In order to be successful in the Super Six Final, Froch must force the action and stay busy, either by moving laterally and fighting Ward at angles or throwing punches in combination to disrupt the timing of the former Gold Medalist.
Carl Froch must be prepared to cut off the ring aggressively and work his way inside of Ward's impressive defense by using intelligent pressure; using feints and a solid body attack. In the event that Ward starts counterpunching Froch effectively as he's coming in, the 34 year old fighter must start using lateral movement to offset the timing of Ward's shots.
If he uses a double and sometimes triple jab while stepping to the side and shifting angles, he will not only keep Ward off balance, but will open the door for other punches like the overhand right, left hook to the body, right uppercut, as well as left and right hooks to the jaw.
Bottom Line: Froch must be able to fight all three minutes of every round at a much faster pace than he is accustomed, and must try to test the WBA Champ's chin early. This won't be easy at the age of 34, but if he can score effectively and take advantage of the minimal opportunities he receives when fighting a defensive minded fighter like Ward, he can get a unanimous decision by outworking the defensive pugilist and win the Super Six World Boxing Classic as well as the Super WBA 168 pound title.
Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) – The 6'0" boxer/puncher from Oakland, CA, fights out of an orthodox stance and utilizes a 71" reach. The California native is 27 years of age and comes into the ring as an undefeated champion. He has an impressive amateur pedigree with a record of 110-5, and is an Olympic Gold Medalist from the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.
Like Carl Froch, Andre's primary weapon is his iron will and superb ring intelligence. He is one of the most physically gifted fighters in boxing, but uses his defensive guile to dominate his opposition. Ward doesn't fight in the most aesthetically pleasing style to control the action, but he will use a rangy jab at different angles to keep his opposition at a safe distance. He can fight on the outside, but can also use his size and strength to be effective on the inside as well.
Ward has the edge in speed and footwork, so S.O.G. must use it to control tonight's bout effectively. The undefeated champion is a thinking man's fighter and is one of most proficient men in the business at making effective adjustments throughout the fight to counteract an opponent's gameplan.
The S.O.G. poses a series of problems for any opponent, especially when he uses his superior handspeed on the inside and throws brilliant combinations to the body and head. Ward can time an opponent effectively as he's coming in and can lead with the jab and straight right hand to keep a defender on his heels.
Andre Ward can use the entire ring along with an effective stiff jab to the body to slow his opponents considerably. With a seven year youth advantage, this is more than likely the strategy he will try to implement. His gameplan will be to throw effectively in combination and step to the side to avoid Froch's counter while using superior footwork to stay out of harm's way.
He doesn't want to trade with the wily Brit, so he must stick and move for three minutes of every round.
Bottom Line: Ward must use his beautiful jab to score effectively to the body and head while moving about the entire ring to slow down his older opponent. He must use his jab sporadically, mixing touch jabs with stiff hard jabs to avoid being timed by Froch's overhand right. When his opponent gets in close, he must elect to tie his man up instead of trying to fire short hooks in the inside.
If Ward can use his superior jab and footwork to dictate the pace of the fight without electing to trade with the tough Brit, Ward can decisively win a unanimous decision and become the Super 6 finals winner as well as the WBC 168 pound champion.
Prediction: Conditioning will decide this cerebral championship fight. This 12 round contest will at times look like more of a chess match than a title fight, but will feature the occasional quick explosion to keep the casual fan on the edge of his seat.
At this point in his career, Andre Ward is simply too fast, too smart, and too disciplined to lose this fight. Although Froch will have his moments of success throughout the bout, they will be too few and far in between to become the Super Six tournament winner.
Ward will dominate the action throughout the fight and win the tournament via 12 round unanimous decision.
Andre Ward 12 UD over Carl Froch to become the new WBC 168 pound Champion and retain his Super WBA Super Middleweight title.
Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, United States Date: Saturday 17 December Time: 9PM ET, 2355 GMT Coverage: Live television coverage on Showtime (USA) Sky Sports 1 (UK), live audio coverage on BBC radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website
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