By Mitch Abramson
Andre Ward claims he was “bumped” by Carl Froch when the two met for a planned photo-op at a press stop in Manhattan to promote the Super Six World Boxing Classic final on Oct. 29. The two super middleweights were called to the center of the stage by the moderator, Jimmy Lennon and in what appeared to be a planned sequence, stood nose-to-nose in the center of the stage. What was not planned, according to Ward, was the slight nudge that Froch, the WBC champ, gave him when they got together.
"He did bump me, didn’t he?” Ward said with a puzzled look when he was asked if he was bumped. “I felt that. He needs to stop bumping me, for the record, because I felt that. Again, it goes back to him trying to intimidate me.”
Ward said that he and Froch shook hands recently and that Froch tried to squeeze his hand extra hard in an attempt at intimidation.
“It’s like bro, c’mon,” Ward said to laughter. “It’s not going to work. With you squeezing my hand and bumping me, it’s not going to stop me from my mission that I’m on. It’s just not going to do it.”
Ward, the WBA super middleweight champion, said of his future opponent: “Carl Froch’s strength is his bravado, but it’s also going to be his weakness and his downfall.”
Ward believes that the super middleweight tournament has been “catered to the Europeans” from the beginning, calling Mikkel Kessler the favorite to initially win the Super Six, Arthur Abraham as the second leading contender and Froch as the “wildcard.”
“They didn’t expect me or [Andre] Dirrell or Jermain [Taylor] for that matter to make any noise,” says Ward. “I believe they put us in the tournament just to make it interesting. There’s only a problem because I’m winning. I’ve always looked at myself as the underdog, and I should because coming into the tournament I hadn’t done much except beat Edison Miranda. I just looked at it that it was my time to shine.”
Ward, a former U.S. Olympic gold medalist, is motivated to win the tournament final, in part, because of his patriotism to his country, he said.
“That’s something that gets lost in this whole shuffle,” he said. “I’ve always been a very patriotic person. It’s no accident that I wore red, white and blue in the Kessler fight. And I’m planning to wear red, white and blue for this fight because it means that much to me. All the belts are on the line, but it’s also the United States vs. the UK. That’s how I look at it.”
Ward, 27, also said he intends to get out of the sport when he is either "32 or 33 when I still have a lot left and people are asking me why?"
Mitch Abramson covers the boxing scene for the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com