By Robert Hough
Far be it from Andre Ward to suggest he’s as good as Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr., but the WBA Super Middleweight Champion believes there’s a subtle similarity: It’s hard for opponents to prepare for them. Allan Green (29-1, 20 KOs) is preparing to face Ward (20-0, 13 KOs) on June 19 in Oakland, Calif., to conclude the second round of the Super Six World Boxing Classic. The two spoke recently at an Oakland press conference to officially announce the fight.
“I do think it’s hard to find sparring partners who can do what I do,” Ward said after the event. “He can’t find anybody who fights like me. People think I move a lot, but I really don’t. I’ll slip and slide a lot, but I’m not a floater. Andre Dirrell moves more; he’s more of a floater. I don’t move that much. What I do is make sure I’m in the right position and use angles to my advantage. It’s not flashy like someone with incredible hand speed, but I know what I’m doing and I’m undefeated.”
Not for long, Green vowed.
“Andre Ward is a good fighter, a good young fighter,” he said from Miami, via a video link-up. “He’s very skilled, very talented and I do respect his skills. But against a fighter like myself, he is going to have to bring a lot more to the table than he did against Mikkel Kessler. I did admire what he did to Kessler; no disrespect there, but at the same time, come June 19th I will be WBA Super Middleweight Champion.”
Green, who replaced Jermain Taylor in Showtime’s tournament and said it would have disrupted his training to travel to California and back for the press conference, suggested that he’ll handle Ward early and apply big-punch pressure down the stretch.
“I’ll take him into deep water and I’ll blow him out of the water,” said Green, who refused to discuss his pre-fight sparring and training.
Better men have tried and good luck getting to the end of the 12th round, said Ward, who wants a knockout and the extra point awarded under the Super Six scoring system in the tournament’s first two rounds.
“Allan Green is absolutely right. There is going to be deep water in this fight and we are going to see who swims the best when we get to that point,” Ward said. “I’ve said I don’t care about the points, but I want the three points in this fight. I’m going to fight my fight, but I want the knockout.”
Ward said he and his team have figured out how to get it done.
“I’ve seen enough of Allan Green,” Ward said. “I’ve been aware of him for a while now and I feel like it’s part of my job, part of being a professional to know about people who are in my weight class or close to it.”
However it ends, it will begin with Ward feeling fit. The fight was postponed because Ward’s knee was sore.
“It felt great so I stopped rehabbing it, which was a mistake, and it started bothering me again,” he said. “I went back rehabbing it and it’s fine now. I’m in training and it feels good.”
Green and Ward emphasized that they’re healthy—and clean. Both men said they would be fine with Olympic-style, random drug tests. Ward’s promoter Dan Goossen, who expressed no opposition to the proposal, said he would discuss the matter with Green’s promoter, Lou DiBella.
That would be something new for Ward as a professional, but pre-fight talk’s getting real familiar.
“I have had opponent after opponent try to intimidate me, opponent after opponent try to minimize me, opponent after opponent try and break down my skills from the outside,” he said. “When they get inside (the ring), it’s something totally different.”
What’s newer to Ward is that he holds the WBA title, something he’s still getting used to.
“I’ll be doing things or somebody will say something and I’ll think, ‘Oh yeah; I’m a champion.”
Not that Ward has lacked for motivation or focus, but he also has something tangible he wants to keep.
“I love my belt,” he said with a massive smile. “I love my belt.”