By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Andre Ward doesn’t think Carl Froch has any business calling Ward “a dirty fighter.”
Ward reminded reporters that Froch more than bent the rules during his October 2009 split-decision victory over Andre Dirrell.
“They want to overcompensate and put it out there to the referee, ‘Look out for his head,’ ” Ward said during a press conference at The Edison Ballroom in Manhattan. “I don’t lead with my head. I’m a rugged fighter. When I fight inside, things happen. I don’t have a malicious bone in my body.”
Froch has called Ward “a dirty fighter” throughout the promotion of their super middleweight title fight Saturday night in Atlantic City based on Ward’s win against Mikkel Kessler in November 2009. Kessler suffered four cuts during that mostly one-sided bout, two that eventually caused it to be stopped during the 11th round in Oakland, Calif., Ward’s hometown.
England’s Froch contends Ward head-butted Kessler intentionally, but Ward wasn’t called for any infractions in that fight.
“That’s one fight that people try to tag me with being a dirty fighter,” Ward continued. “But go back and do your homework, and look at the Andre Dirrell fight. Look at the rabbit punches. Look at the way [Froch] threw Dirrell down. Listen to the commentators, where they basically said, ‘Well, Carl Froch is probably going to have to get a point taken to make him stop doing what he’s doing.’ So if you’re going to tag me off of one fight, let’s be fair and do the same for him. Just like he has concerns, we have concerns, too.”
Froch deflected Ward’s criticism.
“With the Andre Dirrell fight, all I was doing there was trying to make the fight,” Froch said. “You know, I was in against a guy who was very negative [stylistically] and he was on his back foot and he was almost running scared. Whatever I did with Dirrell was an attempt to make the fight happen, and I think I did a good job of that, gave the crowd and the television broadcasters some great entertainment, without infringing any rules. The referee didn’t deduct any points off me. He deducted [a point] off Dirrell for holding [in the 10th round]. So that sums it up. I told you all you need to know.”
Ward warned, too, that Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) has insinuated that their 12-round fight for Ward’s WBA and Froch’s WBC 168-pound titles could get dirty.
“This man is online, talking about how he’s going to spear me with his elbow if I come in with my head,” said Ward, who’s 24-0 (13 KOs). “If that’s not dirty, I don’t know what is. I can put my head on anybody’s chest in a boxing match. That’s part of boxing. But if we’re going to tag me with one fight and define my career by one instance that happened … that might not be the last time that I’m involved with head-butts. It happens. This is a physical battle. This is a fight. Do the same thing with him.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com.