By Jake Donovan
It is finally upon us.
After more than two years since the birth of the Showtime Super Six World Boxing Classic, the finish line is well within sight as Andre Ward and Carl Froch are set to square off in the highly anticipated finale Saturday evening at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Ward (24-0, 13KO) hasn’t lost a fight as pro or amateur since he was 13 years old, and is the last American to have captured Olympic Gold, doing so in the 2004 Summer Games. Still, it wasn’t until he soundly defeated Mikkel Kessler in the opening round of the tournament 25 months ago that boxing pundits began to take his career seriously and view him as one of the very best in the sport.
Froch (28-1, 20KO) has served as the blue-collar success story of the tournament. Dating back to his thrilling win over Jean Pascal, there’s a strong case to be made that he boasts the best resume over that stretch, with his only career loss coming in a competitive battle against Kessler in his opponent’s native Denmark last year.
The winner of Saturday’s showdown will not just win the Super Six trophy, but will also garner recognition as the lineal super middleweight champion and emerge as the frontrunner for 2011’s Fighter of the Year race.
Will Ward’s sharper skills be enough to preserve his unbeaten record and further propel him in the pound-for-pound rankings? Or will Froch once again prove to the world that his underrated career is long overdue for superstar accolades?
Read on to see how the BoxingScene.com staff believes it will all go down.
“I have Ward by SD. I expect an ugly fight with plenty of clinching. I think Ward will win on 2 scorecards with one being wider than it should be and the one with Froch with a narrow points win. Most people will think Ward won but there will be some controversy.”
– Ryan Burton
“Ward on points. I cannot see either man stopping the other unless there is a cut or injury. Froch can make it tight if he brings his boxing ability to the party but I suspect that he will go the macho route and give Ward a few scattered scares en route to defeat. I just want the best man to win fair and square without a controversy on the cards or cries of 'robbery'.”
– Terence Dooley
“No matter who wins, the future of the super middleweight division is in good hands. You couldn’t ask for a more fitting finale – two dominant fighters with entirely different means of winning. Froch continues to upset the odds as he battles for long overdue credit, while Ward has advanced from question mark to bordering on elite. Ward will pass that threshold on Saturday evening, overcoming a rocky start to box his way to a close but clear points win.”
– Jake Donovan
“Froch by split decision. This fight figures to be very physical, maybe even dirty at times, and extremely competitive. The awkward, ever-confident Froch will somehow overcome Ward’s technical and defensive advantages to pull off a mild upset on foreign soil.”
– Keith Idec
“Carl Froch is without question an elite at super middleweight - a good puncher with a great chin whose stock has risen dramatically since Showtime's tournament began. The problem, he's in against the one guy whose street cred has gone even higher. Ward's simply too skilled, too athletic and too determined to prove his worth now that he's on the brink of consensus P4P status. Call it 116-112. Ward, UD 12.”
– Lyle Fitzsimmons
“Froch by UD. While I think the better boxer is Ward I think the better fighter is Froch and he will adapt better than Ward will. He will make it impossible for the judges to favor Ward.”
– Ernest Gabion
– Thomas Gerbasi
“Many have criticized Ward for his style, but with constant pressure, I think Froch will bring the best out of the American by making him stand and fight. However, it will be Ward's versatility going from pure boxer to accurate inside fighter that will win him a tactical but entertaining fight. Ward UD12 Froch.”
– Ryan Maquinana
“Lunch pail, working class fighter from lunch pail city of Nottingham, that is Carl Froch. He's what our British pals call "a value for money fighter" meaning that he comes to slug and scrap from the opening bell to the closing bell. What's not to like, even his dazzling glamour model wife is fun to watch. But he's jumped a grade too high, I fear, versus righteous Christian warrior Andre "Son Of God" Ward. Boxing's version of Tim Tebow, Ward has his critics but it's hard to knock his Olympic gold medal and perfect pro record. Ward by UD, about 8-4 in rounds”
– Michael “White Gorllia” Marley
“I don't foresee this fight ending in knockout. Froch won't be able to catch Ward clean, and Ward does not have the power to upset the granite chinned Brit. I expect the hype and the anticipation of the event to cause some pre-fight and early round jitters for both fighters - despite their big fight experience. Once things settle down by the third round, Ward will start to figure out the somewhat slick Brit with his superior boxing skill and ring IQ and dominate him down the stretch. Once the dust settles, we'll see a new Super Six and unified champion - Andre Ward.”
– Philip Michael
“Ward UD12: I don't think either man can knock out the other. That makes the fight a game of rounds. It's hard to see Ward losing seven of them. If Froch can time him, he has the jab to keep Ward outside but inside Ward is better and he's likely to be landing first in exchanges. It's going to be interesting but Ward has had a softer draw than Froch and might be fresher with youth on his side.”
– Cliff Rold
“Both fighters have raised their profiles in the 'Super Six' but Ward has won me over a bit more so far. I think his fight with Froch will be very tough but I think Ward is versatile, talented and hungry enough to pull out a close unanimous decision.”
– Chris Robinson
“I think we will see Ward in his toughest fight as Froch will have success early on. Ward however will adapt and win a close hard fought fight as Froch will claim he won the fight. Ward by UD”
– Luis Sandoval
“I'm leaning towards Andre Ward, who will confidently outpoint Carl Froch with his technical brilliance, excellent footwork and ring generalship over twelve tedious rounds. Scores well be around 117-111 - in favor of Ward.”
– Alexey Sukachev
Total picks: Andre Ward 10, Carl Froch 2
The Ward-Froch Super Six finale airs live from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, with the Showtime telecast set to begin at 9PM ET (tape delayed on West Coast).
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter at twitter.com/JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]