Upon rewatching Andre Ward-Allan Green from Saturday, I’m more convinced still than before about one point of debate: Ward wasn’t head butting Green, and he wasn’t holding him and hitting him. The super middleweight bout featured a lot of infighting, but in almost every occasion, Ward was punching Green with his free hand while Green was holding his other. Ward, in fact, was very conscientious about it — the second he had a hand free, he was punching with it. As for the head butts, I’ve watched again and again and the only head butt I’ve seen was when Ward landed a punch in the 7th and continued forward, while Green’s head popped back then came forward again. Totally inadvertent. Otherwise, Ward’s head would touch Green’s head and chest, sure, but he wasn’t butting him — he was steering him, using his noggin as a way of obtaining leverage, never as a way to do damage.
Ward in his previous fight came off as a little dirty to me, in that decision over Mikkel Kessler, but not this time. Nope, this was a clean beating he put on Green, and you’ll notice neither Green nor Green’s promoter Lou DiBella have complained about dirty tactics from Ward, and Green showed after the fight he wasn’t above making excuses to explain the loss. The clean beating Ward put on Green meant that most of the talk at the post-fight press conference was instead about Ward needling DiBella about Green calling him a “hummingbird” before the fight — swift but harmless — while Green was at the hospital instead of the at the mic.
- Ward’s performance. There’s no way I can convince you to enjoy what Ward did in the ring this weekend if it’s not your speed, but that never stopped me from trying to convince you of the unconvincible before. Some people have complained about the infighting, comparing it to Ricky Hatton’s style. But I happen to like infighting, done well. I loved Hatton’s win over Kotsya Tszyu. One of the things I like about boxing is the strategic element. There’s something really interesting to me about good infighting, watching one boxer lean this way or that, find openings and fire. For that reason, I tend to appreciate technical boxing overall more than many fans, but I don’t like it when a technical boxer is overly cautious — what I want to see is a boxer focused on offense, and as long as that’s what he’s trying to do, I’m happy. There was no lack of punches thrown per round by Ward, even if he was below the super middleweight average. The most apt comparison for Ward is Bernard Hopkins, but not the spoiler Hopkins, the one who plays defense and only occasionally throws punches. Ward is more like the Hopkins who beat Kelly Pavlik: tactical but aggressive.
- Attendance for Ward-Green. Dan Rafael reported before the fight that Ward-Green wasn’t doing brisk ticket sales in Oakland. It got so bad the fight almost got called off, after Dan Goossen trying to get DiBella to take less money from the gate. But the numbers did end up pretty good, break even or no. The 8,797 announced crowd was about what Ward has done in recent bouts in his hometown. I’m newly skeptical of announced crowd numbers in light of this excellent Sports Business Journal article (h/t here), so keep in mind that’s the figure we’ve been given, not a figure anyone’s verified yet or analyzed for how many tickets were comps. I mean, if 11,000 tickets can be comped for a fight with less than a thousand paid, any number can be deceptive.
- Super Six standings. A reminder of how the rest of this plays out in the next and final round-robin stage. Ward is in the semifinals automatically with four points no matter whether he loses his next fight against Andre Dirrell. Arthur Abraham has a sight strategic edge with three points over the two each for Dirrell, Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler, while Green has zero. Abraham and Froch fight in stage three, along with Kessler-Green and Ward-Dirrell. Every fighter can still get into the semifinals — if Green knocks out Kessler he’s got a good shot of being in, or even if he doesn’t, he could be in depending on what happens with Dirrell and Froch. Although not getting a knockout really hurts his chances. That’s because only four people move on to the semifinals where the tourney switches to single elimination, and the tiebreaker procedure is as follows: They go by head-to-head match-ups, then total knockouts, then to who has the most points on the scorecards. (Some sites say there’s a coin flip involved if there’s still a tie, citing a broadcast of the rules on Showtime at some point, but I’ve not seen that anywhere official that I can recall.) This last round of the tournament is going to be quite exciting. Ward-Dirrell might not produce much action, but as friends and with Ward’s undefeated record and Dirrell’s tournament future on the line, it’s dramatic. Abraham-Froch figures as a real slugfest. And Kessler-Green is probably a pretty good fight, too, especially since Green is going to want to go for the KO to increase his chances of getting in the tourney.
- Friday Night Fights. In the headliner on ESPN2, junior middleweight prospect Sherzod Husanov brawled it out with Jhon Berrio. He won a majority decision that was closer than it should have been on the scorecards, although Berrio did win some middle rounds. Husanov was the straighter, more accurate puncher, fighting with a high guard like a lot of Soviet Union-ish boxers, but more willing to mix it up. But his activity level dropped as the fight went on, and he got wilder, too — some of which might have had to do with his short stop in the United States from Uzbekistan. I wasn’t wowed by any stretch, but he could make a fun opponent for one of the division’s bigger names. Maxim Vlasov was the far better-looking Soviet-ish super middleweight prospect, stopping Jerson Ravelo in three. Ravelo was a much better opponent than Berrio, and Vlasov stopped him quicker than both Ward and Green did. His big right hand KO shot was mighty big all right, but he also fought a smart, aggressive fight. This 168-pound division is embarrassingly deep with both experienced veterans and young talents. The replay, as usual, is on ESPN3.
- Omar Nino Romero-Rodel Mayol II. I somehow continue to have satellite problems, so I wasn’t able to watch this in its entirety, but Romero won what looked to me to be a very close junior flyweight fight. Certainly, it wasn’t as easy for Romero as the 117-109 scorecard, the kind of scorecard that points to Romero’s home field advantage in Mexico. Naturally, this being a Mayol fight there were fouls all over the place. And with it being close, there very well could be a rubber match. Assuming Romero passes his piss test, something he didn’t do once before. For other results, check out Rafael’s scorecard.