The goal for Showtime’s Super-Six World Boxing Classic was to crown an undisputed and unified middleweight champion by way of a tournament between the division’s title holders and top contenders.
All agreed, except for Lucian Bute who refused to lay his IBF title on the line.
Even so, the winner would walk away with the WBA, WBC, and Ring Magazine super middleweight titles, and arguably reign supreme as deserving of that assessment than this one.
None of the tournament participants have improved more over the span of these last two years than Froch. The 34-year-old showed the ability to adapt and evolve from being a straight brawler to becoming an efficient boxer. It’s no secret he has one of the best chins in boxing and can handle being hit flush without abandoning his game plan.
Froch prefers to stay at a distance and throw punches from odd angles, while utilizing his length. He’ll have a four-inch reach advantage over Ward. His goal will be to use a stiff jab and try to time combinations through improved footwork. Ultimately, Froch needs to work the body early and often in order to slow Ward down so his range can remain a huge asset.
Though Ward seems to have had the easiest road to the finale, make no mistake, he deserves to be there. At 27, he is in his prime and has not endured much punishment which will sequentially prolong his career.
Ward is one of the few in the sport who not only can fight from both the orthodox and southpaw stance, but can do so without any noticeable drop off in effectiveness. His KO ratio reflects a lack of one-shot power, but throws punches with aggression and has a willingness to exchange blows.
Ward will look to work behind his jab to keep Froch at bay, but knows he’ll need to get inside in order to make him uncomfortable. Against Pascal and Abraham, Froch didn’t need to worry about being outworked which made them tailor made, but Ward likes to fire combinations then smother his opponents which gets him ahead on the judges cards.
When these two met for a sit-down on Showtime it appeared Froch was already attempting to bait Ward into a brawl. He stated, "You can’t knock me out but I can knock you out."
Froch seemed convinced that he won’t need to take any precautions due to Ward’s lack of power. He also implied that unlike Ward, the ability is there to end the fight at any moment.
Froch knows he can’t win a boxing match against Ward and his only chance to make it a physical fight. If these two were to stand toe to toe and tee off on each other, then the dog would definitely be live on Saturday night.
Ward has the boxing IQ needed and the proficiency to inside the ring to dictate the way the fight will go. I expect him to create problems by using superior movement unlike Froch’s previous opponents did.
Even though Froch is more battle tested and able to take a better punch, as long as Ward relies on his boxing he should make this an easy fight to win. Look for him to land that right hand when Froch carries his left low, then move in and tie him up. Eventually Froch will put his back to the ropes to try and lure Ward in, but to his surprise he’ll be the one that gets beat up.
As long as the cut over Ward’s right eye doesn’t open up and he is fully recovered from the knee injury like it appears, he’ll be be the Showtime Super-Six Champion.
The price is justified and the over/under reflects the fight will go to Ward. If you aren’t willing to lay the chalk, then take a look at Ward by decision which should pay around +150.
PICK = ANDRE WARD
BOXING GOSSIP: Amir Khan may get his rematch against Lamont Peterson here in Las Vegas at the end of March.
Vitali Klitschko (43-2-0, 40 KO’s) is said to be negotiating a title defense against Dereck Chisora (15-2-0, 9 KO’s) in Germany sometime in February and possibly face David Haye in late June.
2011 RECORD: 36-17 (at Pregame.com)
(Vegas-Runner is a pro sports bettor in Las Vegas featured on CNBC and ESPN. He holds the Sports Monitor record for "Most Units Won" in a single year and can be followed on Twitter (@vegasrunner) and at Pregame.com.)
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