The stakes couldn’t be higher, the drama more intense. On Saturday, Oct. 29, two confident reigning world champions – one from America, the other from Europe – will collide in the eagerly awaited Super Six World Boxing Classic Final, a World Championship Unification, from the historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
When the Super Six began, neither undefeated World Boxing Association (WBA) super middleweight champion Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs), of Oakland, California, nor his World Boxing Council (WBC) counterpart, Carl Froch (28-1, 20 KOs), of Nottingham, England, were among the favourites. But through career defining fights and remarkable drama both in and out of the ring, Ward and Froch have persevered and emerged as prominent members of boxing’s exclusive Pound-for-Pound list and are now poised for global stardom.
The Super Six World Boxing Classic was conceived by Ken Hershman, Executive Vice President and General Manager, SHOWTIME Sports®, to bring notoriety and clarity to the men in a deep, talent-laden weight class and both are just one victory away from earning the distinction of being the undisputed No. 1 super middleweight in the world.
“I can’t think of two more deserving men than Andre and Carl to represent this tournament in the Final with a chance for one of them to hoist high the inaugural Super Six World Boxing Classic Cup,” said Hershman. “The two survived the gauntlet – fighting one elite athlete after another – and rightfully deserve the division’s top billing.
“The Super Six was created to determine the No. 1 super middleweight in the world through an arduous run of championship level fights, but more importantly, to sustain conversation and piqued interest in these boxers before, during and between fights. It is clear that we have delivered that and much more.”
The winner of the 12-rounder will claim super middle supremacy, both world championship belts, The Ring magazine championship and the coveted Super Six World Boxing Classic Cup.
“Going into a fight of this magnitude, I expect the toughest fight of my career,” said Ward.
Froch echoed Ward’s comments regarding the enormity of the Super Six Final. “Not only is it for two world titles, but it’s for the tournament trophy and The Ring belt is also on the line,” said the WBC champion. “It makes this the biggest and the most prestigious fight to happen for as far back as I can remember.
“This has been a fantastic tournament. It has produced some amazing fights in our division, fights that certainly would not have happened otherwise. For the Final, we have a great fight between two superior athletes.”
Ward said, “The Super Six has given me the opportunity to fight the best and, so far, I’ve been fortunate to beat the best. It’s also given me the chance to do what I’ve always wanted to do and that’s become undisputed champion. This fight brings me closer.
“I salute SHOWTIME and everyone involved for allowing me into this tournament. We’ve all put our nose to the ground, and we’re still standing and heading to a grand finale. I’m excited to be part of it.”
The last boxer from the United States to capture an Olympic Games gold medal, the six-foot one, 27-year-old Ward captured the WBA belt by upsetting Super Six co-favorite Mikkel Kessler with an impressive 11th-round technical decision in Group Stage 1. Ward retained the crown with lopsided 12-round unanimous decisions over Allan Green, Sakio Bika and, most recently, Arthur Abraham (last May 14) in a Super Six Semifinal.
Ward will be making his fourth defence against Froch. Coming into the tournament off a 12th-round stoppage over Jermain Taylor, Froch took a 12-round split decision over Andre Dirrell in Group Stage 1. The 33-year-old Froch then lost the WBC belt on a close decision to Kessler in a thrilling Fight of the Year candidate during Group Stage 2, but regained it in his subsequent Super Six start when, after an eye injury sidelined Kessler and forced him to relinquish the belt, he masterfully outclassed a determined Abraham en route to a unanimous decision. Froch defended his strap and secured a berth in the Final with a convincing, hard-fought decision over Glen Johnson last June 4.
In what will be an intense, highly charged affair, Froch fully expects his power to be the difference. “Ward is a boxer and mover who can be messy up close,’’ Froch said. “I can box when I need to and I have proven time and again that I can fight with the best of them. I have my natural fitness, a big heart, experience at the top level and the ability to take a punch. “My punching power is far superior to Ward’s. This will prove to be the deciding factor.”
Style-wise, Froch compares Ward to an earlier Super Six victim, Dirrell. “They are similar,’’ Froch said. “Both can't punch and both are frightened of getting hit hard.’’
It wouldn’t be a major fight involving Andre Ward without an upcoming opponent questioning his ability or legitimacy. Ward is accustomed to it. In some ways, he almost expects it and, up to now, thrives on it.
“I don’t think Froch gets the attention he deserves in his country so he tries to get it in the United States,’’ Ward said. “Fine, if it sells a few tickets. He’s certainly not the first to speak out against me and he won’t be the last. I think Froch likes to hear himself talk – except he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
“My thoughts going into this fight are plain and simple: I want to retain the WBA belt, win the WBC belt and The Ring belt and bring home that Super Six hardware. I’m a pro and locked in on that and being one of the best in the world. Froch can dominate through his tabloids; all I want is to dominate the night of the fight. What he must understand is it looks totally different on the inside of those ropes than the way it looks on the outside. “
But Froch is absolutely right (about my elusive style),” said Ward. “I don’t get paid to get hit. It’s not my job. I was taught right away not to get hit or take unnecessary punishment. I’m not in it to be Fight of the Year; I’m in it to be Fighter of the Year.”