Trainer Virgil Hunter turned a few heads on a media conference call today when he said that he doesn't rate his fighter, Andre Ward, ahead of December 17 opponent Carl Froch -- at least for now.
"Just for the record, I rate Carl Froch ahead of Andre Ward right now," said Hunter. "He was a champion before Andre Ward, and fought a couple champions, too."
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Hunter, who is starting to build his stable thanks to his pro success with the former Olympic gold medalist, may be ready to emerge as one of the sport's most in-demand trainers. He's already become one of the best interviews of the trainers out there, and had plenty more to say about training camp, his respect for Froch and his trainer Robert McCracken, and whether or not he believes Ward will stop Froch in Atlantic City.
"We haven't had a perfect camp. But perfection in camp doesn't mean perfection in a fight, and imperfection in a camp doesn't mean imperfection in a fight," he said, referring to Ward suffering a cut that pushed this fight back from its initial October 29 date.
"No camp is perfect. The camp is designed not for it to be perfect. I get killers in camp to come and spar," he added.
"I want people in camp who come to tear Andre's head off. That's who I brought in."
Though Hunter resisted naming names, he made clear that he'd rather see Ward struggle in camp, to mentally prepare himself for a tough opponent.
"I'd rather see a struggling camp. You want a fighter to recognize and adapt to situations in fights," he said.
"It's a mental game. You have to be able to stand up to what you're facing. I don't put much emphasis on perfection."
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And though Hunter expressed tremendous respect for Froch and his opposing trainer, Robert McCracken, he also was very frank about what he thinks of Froch's punching power, and the feeling that Ward doesn't have much of it himself.
"If we matched Andre with B and C fighters, he would have more knockouts," Hunter stated.
"Carl hasn't even hurt anybody since he stopped Taylor. He's a good puncher. But we still have to speak the truth."
Hunter is also sticking with his September prediction that Ward would be the first man to stop the iron-chinned Froch. "I believe Ward is gonna stop Froch. I really believe that. I'm not afraid to stand by it or live with it if he doesn't."
"Carl is saying it, Andre's not. I'm saying it, Coach McCracken's not."
Hunter expects both fighters to bring their A-games, and is expecting to be tested himself, as well. "I'm looking forward to December 17. A great fight between two great boxers, and a great coach in Coach McCracken."
"Carl Froch will always have my respect. He's a good man. The respect is real."