by Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Virgil Hunter has repeatedly predicted that the fighter he trains, Andre Ward, will knock out Carl Froch in their highly anticipated super middleweight title fight Saturday night in Atlantic City.
Froch cannot envision losing the fight, much less by knockout. The supremely confident fighter from Nottingham, England, has been knocked down once in 29 professional fights, and he overcame that third-round knockdown to stop Jermain Taylor in the 12th round of their super middleweight title fight in April 2009.
“I’m going into that [fight] thinking that I can inflict some serious damage on Andre Ward, when I connect,” said Froch, who’s 28-1 (20 KOs). “And I’m not worried about getting caught with a shot. If he hits me with a shot flush on the jaw, I’m not concerned. I’m really not concerned. I’ll walk through it, I’ll smile at him and I’ll keep coming.
“If I connect with my shot on his jaw, I think people are going to know the effect. If he’s not knocked out on the floor cold, he’s gonna be hurt, he’s gonna be in serious trouble. That’s the difference, and that could be the deciding factor in the result in this fight.”
The undefeated Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) has displayed a reliable chin in fights against such capable punchers as Arthur Abraham, Sakio Bika, Allan Green, Mikkel Kessler and Edison Miranda over the past 2½ years. Froch cannot help, however, but remember watching Ward get dropped by journeyman Darnell Boone’s right uppercut in the fourth round of Ward’s seventh professional fight six years ago.
Ward withstood that knockdown and went on to beat Boone (19-18-3, 8 KOs) by unanimous decision in a six-round fight. Froch figures Ward won’t be as fortunate when he lands a flush punch to Ward’s chin at Boardwalk Hall (Showtime; 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST).
“He’s got what, a 50-percent knockout ratio?,” Froch said of Ward. “And I don’t think he’s got the ability to hold a shot. … If you look on YouTube, Andre Ward getting knocked down in round four against a guy that’s had 40 fights and lost half of them. I think he’s up to 38 fights, won 18, lost 18, or whatever his record is, with seven or eight knockouts. So he’s clearly not a puncher and he put Ward flat on his face, and then Ward hung on for round five and round six.
“Now, can you imagine when I hit him with a similar uppercut on the face? I’m not going to leave him alone. I’m not going to let him hold. So unless he has developed a muscle around his jaw since that fight, or has developed the ability to hold a better shot, which he may have done. You know, it’s been done in the past, where if you’re not fit or if you’re ill-prepared sometimes you take a shot, he stuns you, you go over and you don’t recover. That’s never happened to me. I’ve been put down once in my career against Jermain Taylor. I got up after eight seconds and I was fine for the remainder of the fight, and then I forced a stoppage in the last round. But I think there is a little bit of a question mark around Ward’s chin.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.