With December shaping up to be a pretty solid month for boxing in terms of big time fights with super stars and young stars headlining major PPV and cable cards, it can be difficult for fans to pick which card will be the one they can't wait to see the most. If the general boxing public was polled right now I'd guess the rematch between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito would receive the highest number of those surveyed in terms of excitement, anticipation, and overall interest among the other high profile fights taking place.
But one fight, equally as important although not as high profile as the Cotto/Margarito fight will be the final in the much criticized and innovative Super Six competition between Andre Ward and Carl Froch. This fight, along with Pacquiao/Marquez III is the one I've followed the most these past few months because it features two men with two distinctive personalities and two distinctive paths to the ultimate claim as "Best super middleweight in the world" They've each had to endure the best in the world at 168, although I would argue that label "best" given the controversy behind many of the early bouts and the Allan Green, Glen Johnson entrances that caused me to scratch my head a little bit. I understand the circumstances in which those two were able to get in the tournament, but I mean couldn't they find better replacements than Allan Green and Glen Johnson?
I know Johnson is game and he's a well traveled former champion and contender. Unlike most fighters his age and quite frankly a lot of fighters half his age, Glencoff Johnson will move up and down the scales in order to fight the very best regardless of whether or not he has a realistic chance of winning the fight. Johnson comes to get it and he's been sort of a non-winner beneficiary from this tournament because even though he lost to Carl Froch he won over a lot of people and earned a title shot against Lucian Bute who I thought should have been in the tournament from its inception. Aside from that......Allan Green? Take away that knockout of Jaidon Codrington and what is Allan Green known for?
And while Jermaine Taylor proved very ineffective, old, and slow at super middleweight, Andre Dirrell showcased his speed and his talent which at first glance stands up well in comparison to Andre Ward, but Dirrell has serious maturity problems and as Antonio Tarver said tends to lean on the ropes and gets himself trapped way too many times when he shouldn't. Of course we know what happened in the fight known as the "Robbery in Nottingham". Andre Dirrell was, I suppose you could use "picking apart" when you describe his showing against Carl Froch, and while Froch had moments especially in the late rounds there's no doubt Dirrell won a fight where at best Froch made it close late, but was losing early and often throughout. We haven't heard much from Andre Dirrell since then other than being George Groves sparring partner when he trained for the fight with James DeGale. Hopefully his comeback fight propels his career back into the conversation at 168.
Now back to the last men standing. Dan Rafael said it best during a segment on Ringside last night. He said he thought Andre Ward was an exceptional talent who could be the next pound for pound superstar in boxing. And you heard it even in the Ringside panel the feeling that Ward is destined for something bigger in the sport. I've said many times that Carl Froch is fighting two opponents come December 17th. He's fighting Andre Ward and Ward's inevitability. When I say inevitable I'm talking about the likes of Floyd Mayweather or Amir Khan, Donaire or a Brandon Rios. Fighters who have "it" and their paths to greatness are basically written in stone. For all his dismissals and marginalizing Carl Froch knows he's got a future super star across the ring from him and it almost seems like Froch in a way is envious of Andre Ward. You know kind of using a dismissive attitude toward Andre as a sign of his contempt at the fact that so many people see Ward as this shooting star about to hit the very top level of the best pound for pound in the world. At 34 I can't say that I blame Froch though I've grown tired of his constant trash talk which departs from his nice guy persona from the earlier stages of the tournament. I don't know what it is about Andre Ward that brings out a level of snarky condescension on the part of Carl Froch but he certainly wasn't this arrogant against Glen Johnson and with Andre Dirrell, Froch's trash talk was purely a response to Dirrell's bad mouthing and provoking him when Andre talked about his mother.
I just don't like how Froch has tried to pick on Andre Ward like Ward is some little helpless kid and Carl is the school yard bully. From the comments about feather duster punches and their stare down on Showtime, Froch has gone out of his way to minimize Andre Ward. In my view Carl Froch is doing these things because he knows what he's up against. I don't believe that Carl believes the things he's been saying to the British and American media since this final was first confirmed over the summer.
I see the fight being close, I think Andre Ward will come through because he's the faster, smarter, and more skillful fighter. Carl Froch will try several approaches during the fight: Bully (Pressure), Boxing, and Dragging him into deep round wars which Froch hopes will leave Andre open for power shots that he believes Ward won't be able to withstand because you know Carl hits harder than any super middleweight in history and he can't be knocked out because he's a beast.......right.
Keys to Victory: Andre Ward
Andre Ward needs to have a Youtube moment and watch the fight between Andre Dirrell and Carl Froch. That gives the best indicator as to how Froch deals with fast moving boxers who know how to frustrate fighters with their constant in and out style.
In that fight if you remember Dirrell was able to counter whenever Froch tried to close the distance and land power shots. So he would cut off Dirrell, attempt to land, miss and Andre would counter him over the top or down the middle.
You can also see things to avoid in that fight as well. All too often and to his detriment Andre Dirrell would back himself into a corner or lean to heavily against the ropes causing Carl Froch to trap him and throw some pretty good punches while Dirrell tried to, almost in a panic get of out range.
Ward isn't the best puncher I've ever seen in terms of power but that doesn't necessarily disqualify him from doing damage. Again go back to the Dirrell fight and I was very surprise at how easily Carl Froch can be hit. We know Froch is a pretty good boxer but he gets confused by speed and counter punches.
Keys to Victory: Carl Froch
For Froch its simple: Pressure, Power, Body Shots. Froch must cut off the ring and nullify the space that Ward needs to get off and get out. Make Ward panic the way you made Andre Dirrell panic in the late rounds in that fight. Also when you have him cornered go to the body and make him question his game plan. The most important thing Froch can do is get inside Ward's head and cause Andre to second guess himself. If Froch can do that I think he'll win rather easily to be honest.
Now with all of that I have Andre Ward winning this going one of two ways:
Ward by MD
Froch by Knockout late
I know I talked up Andre Ward and I still believe as Dan Rafael does that Ward is simply the more superior talent and is destined for bigger and better things, but if hew can't establish himself before Carl does then this will be an easy affair for Froch. I say that because Froch would have had the momentum on his side at that point and Froch fights on momentum rather than pure skill. Against Jermaine Taylor he rallied late because of momentum even though Jermaine was winning the fight by a large margin.
So what's your take on the whole thing? Is Froch jealous of Ward? Can Andre establish himself early in the fight enough to control the pace or is Carl Froch going to be too crafty in the end?