This fight was set to take place Oct. 29, but a cut forced Ward to postpone. He says he's healed and ready to rock. (photo by Howard Schatz)
It's been a marathon, this Super Six tournament put on by Showtime, and we are now into the sprint stage. The final is Dec. 17 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, and the finalists, Andre Ward and Carl Froch, took part in a conference call to hype the scrap, which will run on Showtime (9 PM ET).
It was Ward's trainer Virgil Hunter who offered the money quotes, as he said he slots Froch above Ward at this time, and reiterated a September prediction that Ward will stop Froch.
“I rate Froch ahead of Ward right,” the trainer said, for having been a champion before Ward and for having fought more A class boxers. Perhaps this implants a seed in the mind of Ward or perhaps the 27 year-old tunes such mental chess out, as he has known Hunter since he was 9 and is used to such tactics to motivate.
I put Hunter a bit on the spot when he deftly danced around his earlier stoppage prediction. He then said, after a filibuster, “I believe Ward is going to stop Carl Froch. I'm not afraid to stand by it if he does or doesn't. I don't mean any disrespect, if he doesn't it won't disappoint me.
Froch's promoter the last couple fights, Eddie Hearn, drew some laughs when he called the Brit a “horrible, stubborn kind of sportsman.” He meant that in a good way, referring to his never say die attitude.
Ward's trainer, Hunter, is one of the better interviews among trainers today, and he perked up my ears when he said that he cannot state that Ward's camp was perfect. He cited obstacles, but didn't specify. I asked him for specifics, and he said he wasn't referring to any injuries, but just regular speedbumps. He said he prefers that, he likes problems to arise so Ward (24-0 with 13 KOs; from Oakland) can solve them, and thus the trainer can sleep well knowing the fighter is in a mode where he can adjust to fightnight difficulties. “I like a struggling camp,” said this master of contrarian logic.
For the record, Lucian Bute, Mikkel Kessler, and Andre and Anthony Dirrell will be present at the finale.
Froch (28-1 with 20 KOs; age 34; from Nottingham, England; sole loss to Mikkel Kessler) wasn't in a cantankerous mood, as he sometimes can be, though we might have heard him get a bit cocky or fiery after Hunter said that he foresees Ward stopping Froch. But his line dropped off the call and then the session ended.
Ward sounded like he expects the stiffest test of his career. “I feel fast, strong and explosive. You don't win these championships, you take it. I'm prepared to do that.”
Hunter sounds like he thinks Ward is going to fight a more fan friendly fight than we've seen in the past, because he thinks Froch won't go into a defensive mode like other Ward foes have, to avoid a beating.
“Andre is a 'money fighter' he said. “I'm excited about this fight, Carl Froch is to be respected. I don't think he's going to do like the rest of the fighters we fought after three or four rounds start protecting themselves. After four or five rounds they know if they continue a beating is way worse than a knockout, it could be career ending.”
Hunter said he brought in some killer sparring partners but didn't want to name names. Meanwhile, I know Froch has been sparring young gun Peter Quillin, among others, in NYC.
Hunter also said that his man's KO percentage would be better if he'd taken longer getting himself seasoned. He'd have 18 or 19 stops if he kept in the “pancake league,” the trainer said.
“Carl turned pro at 25 I believe and Andre was a champion at 25. Carl hasn't hurt anybody since Jermain Taylor. I'm not taking away from him, we do realize he's a heck of a puncher but you have to speak the truth, he's had nobody in trouble since Taylor, who has a tendency to gas out.”
TSS Universe, please let us know who you think will prevail in the finale, in our Forum.