The second stage of the Super Six World Boxing Classic finishes up tomorrow night on Showtime, as WBA super middleweight titlist Andre Ward puts his undefeated record on the line against Allan Green, who comes into the tournament as a replacement for Jermain Taylor.
Super Six World Boxing Classic - Stage Two
WBA Super Middleweight Title - 12 Rounds
Andre Ward (21-0, 13 KO) v. Allan Green (29-1, 20 KO)
This is make or break for Allan Green. This is the big shot. This is it. This is what you get into boxing to do, or at least that's the hope. You fight the best, test your mettle, and see what's what.
At 30, Allan Green is finally there. His lone career loss came in 2007 at middleweight against Edison Miranda. Miranda's bubble hadn't yet been completely burst, by which I mean Miranda had not fundamentally changed as a fighter at this point. That would come after a thrashing from Kelly Pavlik. I am not saying Edison Miranda was ever a great fighter, but there was pre-Pavlik and post-Pavlik for him.
Green fought poorly that night, too. He was outboxed by the crude Colombian, and just plain made too many mistakes. He was sloppy and ineffective, and claimed the move down in weight troubled him. He did knock Miranda down in the eighth round, but was floored twice himself in the 10th and final frame.
After a win over Darrell Woods in July 2007, Green had surgery to remove 85% of his colon. Today, he claims he was at about 30% for the fight with Miranda. Since the surgery, he's gone 5-0, but against marginal opposition. His wins have come over Sherwin Davis, Rubin Williams, Carl Daniels, Carlos de Leon Jr., and Tarvis Simms, and Simms gave him what I thought was a much closer fight than the official scores (99-91, 98-92, 97-93) really reflected, scoring that bout a draw.
Green has issues. He does appear to have stopped staring at his feet randomly, but honestly, he's not quick with his hands or feet, not a highly-skilled boxer, doesn't stay busy all the time, and has shown he can be hurt, even against fighters of much lower caliber than Andre Ward.
On the plus side, Green can punch, and I have no doubt that he has the power needed to hurt Andre Ward or even knock him out. Whether or not he can keep up with him and have a real chance of getting to that point is another story.
Ward, 26, is a pure blue chipper whose only real weakness is a bum knee that I truly fear will shorten his prime eventually. Any doubts about Ward may have gone right out the window last November when he dominated Mikkel Kessler, a win that looks even better now that Kessler came back from that defeat to win a close and spirited decision over Carl Froch.
The real key to Ward's win wasn't so much that he showed his skills. We'd seen those. From an overall skills standpoint, Ward came into that fight more talented than Kessler. What he showed that most impressed me was a mental game that I didn't know he had. Look, Ward headbutted Kessler. Repeatedly. He did it masterfully, calling to mind Evander Holyfield, an all-time great whose best weapon may well have been his dome.
Ward showed a willingness to fight rough, and Kessler had no idea how to respond. Ward is a nice, humble guy for the most part. He doesn't have cross words to say about opponents, isn't a loud, obnoxious guy trying to play the villain. But he'll get dirty in there if he has to. It's a big wrinkle that can add a lot to an already good fighter. Meanness, I've said before, is maybe the most underrated attribute in boxing, and Ward showed he can be mean in the ring.
Now, on paper, Ward has it pretty much all over Green. He's faster, a much better boxer, better on his feet, a smarter fighter, a more tested fighter, and one who already has a marquee win, which Allan Green is notably lacking after 30 pro fights. Ward shot up rankings after dismantling Kessler. Thus far, Green has been best known for things he hasn't done. Ward turned the corner from prospect to top fighter in his last bout. Green's past "prospect," but not quite at "top fighter." He's in career limbo, and this fight is his showcase.
I can't see a scenario where Allan Green beats Andre Ward. If he does, the tournament becomes WILDLY interesting, as everyone in the tournament would have two points, except for Arthur Abraham, who has three. It would make every single third stage fight a do-or-die for every fighter. Frankly, you couldn't script anything better than that. It would be sensational.
But I just don't see it. Green, I think, can be a good fighter when he's on his game. And I fully expect him to be on his game on Saturday night. This is the biggest shot of his career, a career with a window that's starting to gradually close. But even if Green fights the best fight of his life on Saturday, he still has to overcome an opponent who is simply better than he is. If Andre Ward loses this fight, it will be because of one of two things: either Andre Ward had an off-night, or Andre Ward got caught with a monster punch. Allan Green, even at his best, is not as good as Andre Ward. I'm sure he's setting out to prove me and everyone else entirely wrong about that, though, and I'm excited to see him in the sort of fight where we'll finally, for the first time in a long time, learn something new about Allan Green. Ward UD-12