By Robert Hough
Andre Ward’s comfortable throwing punches. Baseballs? Not so much. Ward, a San Francisco Bay Area resident, recently threw out the ceremonial first pitch at an Oakland A’s game. It was no small challenge for the WBA Super Middleweight Champion who faces Allan Green in Oakland, Calif., to conclude the second round of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic “That’s pressure!,” Ward said at a recent public workout. “I did it once before and I stood in front of the mound and lobbed it so I heard about that. The last time, I felt like I had to stand on the mound and throw a strike. You step out there and you’re out of your comfort zone. When I’m in my comfort zone, I’m fine, but that wasn’t it and you’ve got 10 people telling you what to do and what not to do. It was crazy.”
So what did he do?
“I threw a strike,” he said, beaming.
Green, meanwhile, will be content to throw bombs in the ring.
He reiterated during a recent conference call that he believes he can make mistakes during his June 19 debut in Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic, but Ward can’t—because Green believes he can hurt or knockout Ward with one punch.
Green thinks he can be effective because to him, it’s significant that Andre Ward’s biggest wins have come against foreign fighters, Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler and Colombia’s Edison Miranda.
Green believes his perspective, his understanding of what he sees as Ward’s American style will pay off.
“I understand Ward and the way he fights,” Green said. “He’s an American fighter and I’m an American fighter.”
All credit to Ward for his dominant wins over Kessler and Miranda, Green said, but he thinks the Dane and the Colombian couldn’t handle Ward’s style like the Tulsa, Okla., native can.
“Andre looked great against Kessler but I’m not Kessler,” Green said. “Mikkel Kessler really couldn’t deal with a lot of things that Andre was doing. I’m slick guy and I’m a sharp guy. Andre is not the easiest guy to fight with his style but I understand how to fight him because I fought a lot of those guys in the amateurs. I understand his style.”
To Ward, nationality is immaterial. Every fighter’s different.
“I don’t know if I can compare Allan with anyone I’ve ever fought before,” he said on the teleconference. “At the end of the day each fighter has his own strengths and his own weaknesses. If you’re going to become a great fighter you have to learn to exploit his weaknesses so that’s what we’re working on.”
Having insights and having a fight are two different things, Ward noted.
“Even though we’ve studied tape,” I expect a better Allan Green than what I’ve seen on tape,” he said. “I’ve prepared myself mentally for this to be the toughest fight of my career.”
Green reiterated that he has something to prove after being added to the tournament to replace Jermain Taylor, who was knocked out by Arthur Abraham and withdrew.
“The thing I didn’t understand was Jermain Taylor getting into the tournament,” he said. “No offense against Jermain but we fought on the same show and I won my fight and he lost his fight. I got pushed back to ShoBox and he got put into the tournament. That’s what I didn’t understand.”
Ward has a belt, an Olympic Gold Medal and he’s undefeated record, but he still feels like he’s fighting for respect.
“I don’t know if it’s now or it it’s later but I know eventually I’m going to get respect for the dog that’s in me and for the bite-down that I have,” he said. “It’s about going out there and taking care of my business. I expect him to have a chip on his shoulder because I definitely have one on mine.”
At this point, there’s not much more to be said, according to Ward.
“It’s just go time,” he said. “At some point the talking just stops and it’s about just showing up. If Allan Green beats me I’ll take my hat off to him. I don’t make excuses. And I expect the same from him if I beat him. What I’m prepared for is a dog fight.”