By Ernest Gabion
Virgil Hunter, the trainer of WBC/WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), is pretty confident that if his boxer had two healthy hands, he would have scored a knockout victory over Carl Froch last year in the Super Six finals. Ward won a twelve round decision, but his left hand was broken in two places during the contest.
On Saturday night in Oakland, he put on a brilliant display with a tenth round knockout of WBC light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson (31-2, 17 KOs).
According to Hunter, they made a decision, prior to the fight with Froch, to start stopping opponents inside the distance.
"We always knew that he could knock guys out, but this is professionbal boxing and the first priority in his career was to learn how to win and then seek the knockouts. At one time he was 16-0 with 11 knockouts and everyone was calling him a puncher, but we were in the B-leagues and C-leagues. A champion who has a lot of knockouts, 90% of them [knockouts] was when he was fighting B-leaguers. Elite fighters don't get knocked out," Hunter said.
"We would have knocked out Carl Froch, if his hand hadn't have been broke. We made the decision last year that were going to start stopping guys inside the distance. We began to adjust the training and we always knew he had a world-class left hook and could go punch for punch with anybody with the left hook."
In the opinion of Ward, knocking opponents out is the "final piece of the puzzle."
"Right now, everybody in boxing is knockout hungry. Everybody wants a knockout. I tell people that you can still entertain without getting a knockout. But, a knockout is always great and that's the last piece of the puzzle in my game that I want to keep working on," Ward said.