By Graham Houston
Super Six continues on Saturday, with Andre Ward seeking to become the first boxer to win two bouts in the Showtime 168-pound tournament when he meets Allan Green. Ward’s WBA title will be at stake but it’s odd how the tournament holds greater sway than the championship. I know that titles are good for the fighters by increasing earning opportunities, but good, evenly matched fights are what matters.
Ward is a big favourite in Saturday’s bout, which takes place in his hometown of Oakland, but there is a high level of interest. Green has punching power and of course talks a great fight. He feels that he is the fastest, most dangerous fighter that Ward will have faced. While Ward dazzled against Mikkel Kessler, Green feels he poses a much bigger threat than the Danish fighter.
“Ward’s a good fighter, slick, but believe it or not he’s still green — I feel like there’s a lot of things he still has to work on,” Green told me in an interview for Boxing Monthly.
“I know how to press him with style, with finesse, with elusiveness at the same time as I press him. He’s really going to have to dig deep. He’s not going to be able to outbox me, he’s going to have to come up with other things and in doing so he will get hit, and hit a lot, and that’s what the difference is going to be.”
Ward says that he simply feels all the more motivated when he hears Green’s tough talk. “I use it as fuel, and I am going to do what I’ve been doing for the last 12 years: prepare, come into the fight ready to win and get the win,” Ward told a press conference in Oakland “That’s what we’ve been doing for the past 12 years. I have had opponent after opponent try to intimidate me; opponent after opponent try to minimize me.”
When his opponents get in the ring with him, though, they find something different from what they had been expecting, Ward warned.
I believe that Kessler was surprised by Ward. It seemed to me that the more experienced Kessler thought he could go in and impose his will, but he found Ward to be not just fast and classy but rougher, tougher and stronger than he had anticipated.
After such a dominating performance, can Ward delight the Oakland fans with something similar on Saturday? Sometimes a fighter has a bit if a letdown after hitting the heights, but I don’t think this will happen with Ward.
I’m expecting something special from Ward on Saturday. He is a champion now, he reached a new level in the win over Kessler and he seems to be the type of fighter who wants to reach for greatness.
Green punches hard with either hand and he has speed and skill, but he has been disappointing in his inconsistency. He looked devastating in his knockout wins over Jaidon Codrington and Carlos De Leon but was lacklustre against Rubin Williams and Tarvis Simms.
In his only loss, Green went into the ring against Edison Miranda in a weakened condition (he was later diagnosed with a paralysed colon and subsequently had 85 per cent of his colon removed) but he still managed to knock Miranda down.
That fight was at middleweight, so Green can rightly claim that he has never been beaten in the super middleweight division.
Ward’s progress has been slower than expected for an Olympic gold medallist but there were injury problems. He feels that he has had time to develop properly as a professional fighter and that his career is exactly where it should be. Ward’s durability has been questioned after a knockdown suffered against Darnell Boone and a bad wobble in his win over Kenny Kost, but he not only outpointed Edison Miranda but backed him up and even bullied him in a one-sided win a year ago. Then came the win over Kessler. Ward isn’t the same fighter as the one who had to survive the early-career scares. I have no doubt that Green is confident and feels he is the better fighter, but I think he might be surprised, as were Miranda and Kessler, by Ward’s deceptive strength and punch-authority.
I am looking forward to the fight, which is the highlight of the second slow week in a row for the fight game. I believe that Ward will be tested but that he will come through in style.
Logic says that the fight will go 12 rounds, with Ward darting in and out, boxing a somewhat cautious fight — being well aware of Green’s punching power — and picking up points.
This could well be what happens, but I think there is a chance that Ward can force a stoppage. I thought that he was rocking Kessler, who has a very good chin. If Ward can catch Green with the same sort of shots, he might be able to get a surprising inside-schedule win. I lean towards this possibility.