By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Carl Froch admitted Tuesday that he’s nervous about judging leading up to his showdown with Andre Ward.
“It has, if I’m honest, made me a little bit concerned,” Froch said after a press conference in Manhattan to promote their Oct. 29 fight at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. “It’s made me sort of get on [promoter] Eddie [Hearn] and say, ‘Are we on the case? Are we saying all the right things and making all the right noises?’ … It’s an issue that shouldn’t be there, but it’s part and parcel to boxing, unfortunately.”
Froch’s fears don’t just stem from the July judging controversy that led New Jersey’s State Athletic Control board to suspend three judges in the aftermath of Paul Williams’ much-maligned majority decision victory over Erislandy Lara in Atlantic City. Five weeks earlier in Atlantic City, judge Nobuaki Uratani scored Froch’s fight against Glen Johnson even (114-114), even though Froch decisively won the bout, maybe as many as nine of the 12 contested rounds.
“I’ve never really been concerned about referees and judges, to be honest,” Froch said. “It’s never been in the forefront [of my mind], but just recently, with what happened with Paul Williams … it’s sort of made me think to myself, ‘Could it potentially be a problem?’ I’m fighting an American, in America, and I’ve been victim to some bad judging in the past. Even in the Glen Johnson fight, one of the judges saw fit to score [it even], when it was clearly my fight.”
Luckily for Froch (28-1, 20 KOs), judges Mark Green (116-112) and John Stewart (117-111) had him comfortably in front of the Jamaican-born, Miami-based Johnson by the end of their “Super Six World Boxing Classic” semifinal June 4 at Boardwalk Hall’s Adrian Phillips Ballroom.
Somehow, none of the three judges credited Cuba’s Lara (15-1-1, 10 KOs) for defeating Williams (40-2, 27 KOs), of Aiken, S.C., in a fight Lara obviously deserved to win at that same venue. Al Bennett scored their 12-round junior middleweight fight even (114-114), and Don Givens (116-114) and Hilton Whitaker (115-114) credited Williams with winning a fight he undoubtedly lost.
Aaron Davis, commissioner of New Jersey’s SACB, suspended Bennett, Givens and Whitaker indefinitely July 13 for their scoring of the Williams-Lara fight. Ward was as dismayed as anyone by that official outcome.
“I saw the situation with the judges with the Paul Williams [fight], where the judges got suspended,” Ward said. “So that’s always a concern because a referee that likes a particular style doesn’t let you work the way you like to work or a judge who sees things a particular way can influence the night and change the night. So I hope it’s fair, I believe it’s going to be fair and we just have to go from there.”
Ward (24-0, 13 KOs), of Oakland, Calif., just hopes Showtime’s 168-pound tournament ends with a referee raising his hand following a definitive defeat of Froch.
“I never want to get my hand raised if I didn’t win,” Ward said. “I wouldn’t be able to live with that. I believe it’s going to be fair and I think New Jersey’s going to do a great job.”
Davis did his best during the press conference to alleviate any apprehension about the judges, who have not yet been assigned to the 12-round fight for Ward’s WBA and Froch’s WBC super middleweight titles.
“We’re going to have some top-class officials,” Davis said. “I believe that in New Jersey, if you look at it, we have some of the best judges and referees in the world. … So yes, we will have the best for the best.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.