Advertisement
Advertisement

Carl Froch vs. Andre Ward: The Pre-Finals Report Card

by Cliff Rold

All the talk is done.  The delays are past.  The Super Six Super Middleweight tournament roller coaster heads into its final peak with the stakes as high as can be.  The winner leaves with the silver cup, two alphabet titles, and the lineal World Championship left vacant since Joe Calzaghe moved on to Light Heavyweight in 2008.

Neither man was the favorite when the tournament began.  Andre Ward, despite an amateur pedigree topped by a 2004 Olympic Gold Medal at Light Heavyweight, was seen as too green, too unproven, for a largely veteran field.  An undressing of the excellent Mikkel Kessler in the first round set him on a rocket to the finals.

Froch, even with rousing wins over Jean Pascal and former Middleweight king Jermain Taylor on his ledger, entered without the favor of Europeans Kessler and Arthur Abraham.  He has proven to be the ultimate answer to those who approach the sport looking for pound-for-pound talent first.  Froch isn’t always pretty but he fights the best and, over his last six fights, has gone 5-1.  He finds his aesthetics in the winner’s circle. 

Froch-Ward as the Super Six final is why they fight the fights.  Fighting the fights, earning it in the ring, is how boxing ends up with this sensational match.

Both men earn congratulations for arriving at this moment and deserve respect no matter the outcome.       

Let’s go to the report card.

The Ledgers

Carl Froch
Age: 34

Titles: WBC Super Middleweight (2010-Present, 1 Defense)
Previous Titles: WBC Super Middleweight (2008-10, 2 Defenses)
Height: 6’1
Weight: 167.5 lbs.

Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 167.2 lbs.
Hails from: Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

Record: 28-1, 20 KO

BoxingScene Rank: #1 at Super Middleweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 5-1, 1 KO
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 5 (Robin Reid, Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor, Arthur Abraham, Glen Johnson)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced in Defeat: 1 (Mikkel Kessler)

Vs.

Andre Ward
Age: 27
Title: WBA Super Middleweight (2009-Present, 3 Defenses)

Height: 6’1

Weight: 168 lbs.
Average Weight – Last Five Fights: 168.3 lbs.
Hails from: Oakland, California

Record: 24-0, 13 KO
BoxingScene Rank: #2 at Super Middleweight
Record in Major Title Fights: 4-0

Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Defeated: 2 (Mikkel Kessler, Arthur Abraham)

Pre-Fight: Speed – Froch B; Ward A
Pre-Fight: Power – Froch B+; Ward B
Pre-Fight: Defense – Froch B; Ward A
Pre-Fight: Intangibles – Froch A; Ward A

Some who favor Ward look to the trouble Dirrell gave Froch with movement and speed and see a similar advantage for Ward.  It might be a mistake.  Dirrell, for all his flaws, has otherworldly hand speed.  Ward’s is a tick slower if still of exemplary class.  Where Ward succeeds in ways Dirrell does not is in timing, focus, and tactics.  He is very good at landing a first shot, quick clinching to stymie a foe, and then use the spaces he creates to land some more.  Ward also knows how to come in low and then come up with offense, a hazard for any fighter trying to time Ward as he comes forward.

Froch, while not as quick, has shown improved timing in the tournament and possesses an unorthodox approach to counter Ward’s attack.  Men like Abraham, Kessler, and Allan Green are all far more predictable than Froch, and punch from more traditional angles.  Froch’s upjab, hard and sometimes looping right, and underrated footwork will be a factor.  Ward could be open to uppercuts around his right glove coming forward.  Froch, who holds his hands low, is good at stepping to the side and throwing a left hook/uppercut where foes don’t see it.

Defensively, Ward holds the edge.  He just doesn’t get hit clean much and further complicates matters by being able to fight more than one way.  He is very good at forcing fighters to come to him and controlling space when he wants to, and then is just as able to go inside.  The rough stuff doesn’t bother him and he deals his share.  That’s a place where Froch can meet him.  If Ward follows the right with his head, Froch must be willing to let an errant left or right end with a hard forearm or elbow.  In clinches, he has to punch with the free hand even if the occasional blow lands in a foul area.

Referee Steve Smoger probably won’t stop either man much in that regard. 

Froch may have some edge in intangibles but not much.  Both men have taken enough shots in the tournament, Froch more of them, to answer questions of beard.  These are both pros that can take a shot.  Ward is mentally strong and has shown character since the amateurs.  He could have been the U.S. Middleweight entrant but packed on weight to go up the scale to help the team, beating bigger men straight through.  He’s a gamer.  Froch has seen better overall competition and, in his last two fights, looked the part of a man who learned his lessons, taking his game to new levels.  Including his win over Pascal, Froch too has been a gamer, finding ways to win against men who appear to have greater physical gifts.  He’ll need a new level on Saturday to best the most complete fighter he’s seen to date.   

The Pick

The biggest upset of the night would be if this fight ended before twelve scored rounds need be tallied.  Neither man is a lights out puncher and both have proven their whiskers.  A knockout is unlikely.  Without a knockout, the fight becomes a game of rounds and Ward, who has lost maybe two or three since entering the field, is better at that game. 

Froch may have fought tougher competition overall, but he loses more rounds.  Saturday, he’ll probably need seven rounds in his favor to win.  If he can stun or hurt Ward bad enough to make him think about coming forward in the first three rounds he’s got a shot. 

The more likely scenario is Ward building an early lead in a dullish early portion of the fight and then trading rounds as Froch comes on late.  If this were the fifteen round era, Froch’s chances might be better but he doesn’t have those critical late stanzas.  The pick here is Ward in a sound technical performance, with Froch coming on late and stealing the crowd down the stretch. 

The pick is made with little conviction, and the hope is high both fighters deliver in ways no one sees coming.    

Report Card Picks 2011: 41-18

Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel, the Yahoo Pound for Pound voting panel, and the Boxing Writers Association of America.  He can be reached at [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by jacob holbech on 12-17-2011

This fight ends in a knock out! And Ward cant deliver a ko. If he uses his head maybe he can deliver technical ko. It stands clear to me, Froch ko!

Comment by Motofan on 12-17-2011

So are there ANY writers picking Froch to win? I'm rooting for him, but nobody seems to think he has much of a shot. I have Ward by UD, but Id love to be wrong.

Comment by UglyPug on 12-17-2011

FINAL PUNCHSTATS WILL READ: Froch - 135/588; Ward - 189/533.

Comment by UglyPug on 12-17-2011

Good pick Roldie. . . Safe, and calculated, but the smart pick. . . I think Froch might surprise a couple people and actually outjab Ward in the first few rounds, winning the battle in the center of the ring…

Comment by crold1 on 12-17-2011

[QUOTE=StrangerInTown;11572520]The pick here has to be Ward: 12 stanza victory. Possible 9-3 in rounds.[/QUOTE] I think it'll be closer and if Froch can land hard early, his reach advantage could make this a whole bunch of hell for Ward. The…

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (6)
Top Headlines Klitschko on Fury: This is Not About Titles, This is About Revenge! Chris Eubank Jr: I Can Knock Gennady Golovkin Out! Froch Cautions Joshua Not To Rush, Picks Fury To Beat Klitschko Kerry Hope is Convinced Vijender Singh Was Scared at Presser Zeuge is Sparring With Braehmer For De Carolis WBA Title Clash McGregor Was Looking For 50-50 Split With Floyd Mayweather Firat Arslan vs. Nuri Seferi Crossroads Bout on September 18 Eubank Sr. Baits Golovkin: Prove To Me That You Can Beat My Son! Rey Ojeda Shocks Puerto Rico With Retirement Announcement Thurman-Porter Makes Working Weekend Worth The Wrangling Cotto vs. Marquez Negotiations Continue To Play Out Hurd: I Didn’t Want to Force the Stoppage After Dropping Molina Joshua Warns Wilder: Focus on Arreola, I'll Be To America Soon Photos/Weights: Edner Cherry vs Lydell Rhodes, Douglas-Collado 30 Day Weights: Crawford 150.4-Pounds, Postol 145.5-Pounds Bob Arum Details Top Rank's Plans in China Examining the Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter Scorecards Golovkin-Eubank Moves Closer After 'Very Positive' Talks in London Povetkin's Promoter: No Interim-Fight, Wilder Shot By Year's End Thurman-Porter: Highest Barclays Boxing Gate, 2nd Largest Crowd Roach Embraces Pacquiao-Broner: We'd Go For The Knockout! Juan Diaz: Win Over Vazquez Takes Me One Step Closer To Title Terence Crawford Special Debuts on HBO, July 9th Oscar Molina: I'll Come Back From Loss to Jarrett Hurd Froch: If Eubank Faces Golovkin in September - I'd Be Shocked Brook: After Vargas - I Need To Get in There With Keith Thurman! Ivan Baranchyk, Tommy Morrison's Son Win Big in Miami Pablo Cesar Cano-Alfonso Gomez Set For July 15, Gibson is Out Thurman: Porter Isn't Top Two, But He Remains Marquee at 147 Golovkin vs. Eubank: Hearn Aims To Finalize Deal in 48-72 Hours Tommy Langford-Ronny Gabel Set For July 16th in Cardiff Postol, Roach Reflect Back on Knocking Lucas Matthysse Out Frank Warren: Liam Smith Has Very Good Shot To Beat Canelo! Vargas To Kell Brook: I Already Signed, Let's Get This Over With! Thurman Wants To Keep Fighting on Free TV, Not on Pay-Per-View Froch: Golovkin Rejected Terms, I'd Walk Through DeGale in 5 or 6 Casey Ramos Faces Paredes on Top Rank Bill, 7/16 on UniMas Joseph Parker Embraces Anthony Joshua Title Fight For The Fall Mayweather Admits: For The 'Right Price' I Might Come Back! Mikaela Lauren-Klara Svensson Showdown Set For Sept. 10
Advertisement

Latest Active Forum Threads
Advertisement
Advertisement