Andre Ward had little trouble cruising past Arthur Abraham tonight at a sparsely-populated Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., winning a wide unanimous decision to advance to the finals of the Super Six World Boxing Classic.
Ward (24-0, 13 KO) won on scores of 120-108, 118-110 and 118-111. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 118-110 for Ward. Abraham falls to 32-3 (26 KO), and is now officially eliminated from the tournament, having lost his last three bouts in the Super Six.
Ward may not have impressed with a flashy style or big power tonight, but I felt like he did exactly what he should have been expected to, and what he always does. No, it's not pretty, but it never has been. And no it wasn't a flawless performance, but it never has been.
I think the biggest difference between this fight and, say, the Mikkel Kessler fight in 2009, in terms of perception, is that now this is expected, and it's easy to want more. Ward is expected to pick his opponents apart with precision, win the rounds, take the fight wide, and get ready for the next one. Against Kessler, he was the underdog to all but those who saw real elite-level ability in Ward, and back then there were a lot of skeptics. There are few remaining now.
Abraham said after the fight he didn't feel he lost the fight by such wide scores, but I can't agree with his questioning the judging. 120-108 was a bit much considering Abraham clearly did win at least the third round, but he was physically exhausted by the middle of the fight and just had no answers for Ward's ability to adapt mid-fight. Abraham has no ability to adapt to what opponents are doing.
The Armenian slugger did come out quicker than usual in this fight, but it would be a stretch to say he was truly aggressive or throwing a lot of punches. The Showtime team, perhaps looking for a compelling narrative, really exaggerated Abraham's early output, but it was at least definitely better than his dismal performance last year against Carl Froch.
And I just don't agree that Abraham will go back to 160 and the world will be brighter for him. For one thing, he was having trouble making the weight a few years ago, and at 31 that's not going to get easier. But even if he could, the issue is not the weight at 168, I don't think. It's that he's fighting better, more skilled fighters than he did when he was dominating at 160 in Germany.
Look, if Arthur Abraham gets Mahir Oral, Lajuan Simon, Elvin Ayala, Wayne Elcock, old Raul Marquez and a high point of pre-ruined Edison Miranda and Khoren Gevor thrown at him, he'll start looking like a destroyer again, maybe. Those guys are out there at 168, too. If he just wants to go back to making money against B-level opponents in Germany, then fine, and he can do that at super middleweight just as easily as he can at middleweight. But he's not going to beat fighters who are true top talents like Ward, Carl Froch and Andre Dirrell. He's simply not a good enough overall package. He has power, and he's tough. But that's it. He's not a whole lot different than Librado Andrade in terms of how much he brings to the table, he just brings different assets in equal value.
Andre Ward now awaits the winner of the June 4 fight between Carl Froch and Glen Johnson, which will also air live on Showtime, of course. We thank you for joining us this evening for the fight.