Arthur Abraham has never been as big an underdog as he is against Andre Ward. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Bongarts/Getty Images)
Note: Scott also did an audio preview on this week's edition of Bad Left Hook Radio.
I keep tricking myself with fights like this -- I watch some older fights, and I go, "Well if (x) does what he did to (y) to (z), this could be a fight." So I watch something like Arthur Abraham nearly decapitating poor Khoren Gevor with a wild left hook, and I think, "Damn. If Abraham hits Ward with something like that, it'll be lights out." But of course it would be lights out. The trouble is, Khoren Gevor wasn't good enough to not get hit with that. Andre Ward is.
I won't try to go too crazy about this, because I think it's simple: Abraham, like Shane Mosley last week, has a puncher's chance to beat Ward, and a legitimate puncher's chance. Mosley has that type of power, Abraham does, too. But Mosley couldn't pull the trigger on Pacquiao so we wound up grinding out a 12-round decision. Abraham could pull the trigger, but doesn't do so often enough, so it's tough to find a way that Abraham does not get Mosley'd out of this thing in a methodical fashion. I actually don't expect Ward to be as rough as he has been against Kessler or Bika, or as bullying as he was against Allan Green. I don't think he'll need to do it, because I don't think Abraham will still be mentally in this fight by the sixth round.
Ward by cruise control unanimous decision.
You obviously can't count out a man that hits as hard as Arthur Abraham, but Andre Ward's a big favorite for good reason. While never pretty to watch, he's a versatile operator, capable of effectively getting things done in more ways than his economical opponent. He can use his legs to stay out of range, while picking his spots to jump in, and of course he has a significant edge at close-quarters, an area that Abraham has never excelled in.
Abraham's best chance is to try and catch Ward lunging forward with one big shot, but he can't simply play a waiting game. He's got to try and force the issue a little. His tendency to put the ear muffs on, while waiting to respond with a flurry, isn't likely going to get it done. He needs to take some chances here.
My pick: Ward UD by 117-111 type of scores.
Can Arthur Abraham summon the will the answer his critics and pursue the high-volume, high-risk offense necessary to knock off the cagey Ward? It's a nice thought, but the weight of historical evidence suggests it's also not likely. Instances of fighters reinventing themselves in response to external factors are few and far between. And in the case of the Armenian, his external factor takes the shape of Andre Ward, a foe whose crafty, often cynical style - head butts, holding, and rabbit punching and all - are more likely to trigger Abraham's more conservative instincts in the ring than push him to discover an as-of-yet untapped facet of his arsenal.
Ward by unanimous decision.
For me, one of the most surprising aspects of the Super Six tournament has been the downfall of the once indomitable looking Arthur Abraham; he doesn't look the same force at 168 lbs than what he was when dominating the middleweight division.
His fights with Dirrell and Froch saw him comprehensively out-boxed and seemingly unable to change tactics when in a losing position, something that doesn't bode well for him against the slick Ward, who has been the revelation of the tournament.
I'm having a hard time envisaging anything other than a master class of hitting and moving from Ward. He's got height, speed and reach advantages over Abraham and has already shown himself to be a superb technician. Abraham does possess knockout power but whether he'll get a chance to use it remains to be seen. I feel Ward will be far too quick and slick and favour him to win via a lopsided points decision.
As one of the hardest punchers in the sport, Abraham has a particular puncher's chance against Ward, but his chance at victory pretty much begins and ends there. Ward is a top ten fighter in the world and has the look of a potentially special pugilist. His package of speed, boxing ability, intelligence, and caginess is one that I greatly admire. The only 168-pounder alive whom I believe can threaten his class is not in the tournament: Lucian Bute.