(From the weigh-in Friday: Carl Froch 167.5; Andre Ward 168)
Tomorrow night, the historic, groundbreaking Super Six World Boxing Classic wraps up after beginning more than two years ago when Andre Ward and Carl Froch meet in Atlantic City for the Super Six cup, vacant Ring Magazine 168-pound title, as well as their respective alphabet soup titles.
We were able to speak to a majority of the fighters, promoters, and trainers who took part in the Super Six experience on a variety of subjects related to the tournament, most importantly who they feel will win tomorrow night.
Is there an advantage to Ward with the fight being in the United States?
Lou DiBella [promoter for Jermain Taylor, Allan Green, Glen Johnson]: Froch is a real pro. He’s a seasoned professional veteran. I don’t think he is going to be spooked by the location. He’s not going into Oakland, and Andre Ward is not a huge hometown favorite in AC. I tend to think the venue is going to be irrelevant.
Glen Johnson: The whole crowd, the whole arena, gives [Ward] the same setting and the same kind of feeling as in California because he is American and it’s his home. If he was going overseas where the fans were against him, I think that would have an effect. When you do something simple, its nothing major, he is still going to get the applause. That will do wonders for a fighter.
Jimmy Montoya [trainer for Mikkel Kessler]: I think he’s got an advantage because he is from America. The people will respond to him better, just the way that when Mikkel fights in Denmark the people respond to him better.
Gary Shaw [promoter for Andre Dirrell]: I don’t think it will end up being an advantage for either of them.
Ronnie Shields [trainer for Sakio Bika]: I don’t think its an advantage either way. Nobody else in that arena is gonna count except the judges and the referee. I don’t think either guy has an advantage. I do think that when they pick judges and the referee, both guys do different things in the ring. Its gonna matter on what judges they have. Some judges like boxers, guys that are real aggressive, and it depends on who they got, who is going to complement their style. I think that’s where the advantage comes in.
Carl Froch hasn’t stopped an opponent since April 2009 when he took twelve rounds to stop Jermain Taylor. Is Froch’s power as real as he makes it out to be?
Lou DiBella: It’s not one punch power. It’s power that comes from accumulation and activity. I think he’s a strong fucking guy. He’s a tough guy who is particular capable of knocking you out late.
Andre Dirrell: I do not know how hard Carl Froch hits because he never landed a solid punch on me. All of his punches were rabbit punches. I didn’t get a chance to feel the sting of his jab because every jab he threw was to get a point and not to hurt me.
Glen Johnson: I actually don’t know much about his power, it was not something that I recognized during the fight between he and I. I didn’t really recognize so much punching power from him. I recognized more that he is very smart about how he throws a punch and stuff like that, he has a jerky style that throws your defense off. You’re unsure if he is going to throw a punch or about to throw one. I don’t think he has any punching power to talk about nor the speed to talk about, he’s in the middle somewhere.
Gary Shaw: I don’t think Froch has much power at all. He’s a blue collar worker that works hard every minute of every round.
Ronnie Shields: Froch is a good fighter, he can hurt you, but he is not a one punch kind of guy. He knows how to get you out after he hurts you.
Who will win, Ward or Froch?
Arthur Abraham: I think Ward will win, his style is difficult for Froch to fight against.
Lou DiBella: I think that Ward’s speed is the differential in the fight. I predict a very close fight and Ward by decision. I would not be surprised to see Froch, it wouldn’t shock me if Froch won. Ward is a super-skilled kid, the gold medal is no accident. It’s not going to help him that he hasn’t left. If Ward allows Froch to engage in a street fight I could see Froch win.
Andre Dirrell: It’s a very interesting final. I’m saying this because both of them, they both step up their game tremendously with each fight. My first outlook was I always knew Andre Ward was going to be in the finals. The work ethic and focus he has, I believe he is gonna win it. Because Carl Froch is coming up so strong, he learned a lot from my fight, its gonna be a close fight. I see Ward pulling it out and Froch giving him a hard time. It’s gonna be exciting.
Allan Green: Froch is the harder puncher, the stronger, more grittier fighter. I could give a slight advantage to Andre Ward it depends on which Carl Froch shows up. I really can’t make a prediction on the fight but I’m leaning towards Ward winning but I dont know who will win. Froch has added a lot of elements to his game. Ward has the advantages of speed and Froch has the power. Carl has kind of a long, rangy, power. If Froch throws a jab he’ll give Andre fits. I expected after I saw Ward handle Kessler I figured it would probably be Froch and Ward in the end. I picked Froch to win the tournament.
Glen Johnson: Well I think its gonna be a hard fight for Froch to win. Ward is an American guy and the fight is in America and I believe he will get a lot of support based on the judges and people in the arena. He will have to really win the fight, go in and try to beat Ward at his own game. I think he is strong enough to do it but not fast enough. I think it’s all setup for Ward to win.
I would have to go with Ward if I have to make a decision. Ward shows so many different ways that he can win. He beat all of his opponents and showed he has a particular game plan for each guy. It’s kind of setup for him to win as far as he is at home, the fanfare is his, the judges seem to get more influenced when they hear a cheer. When Froch does something, nobody will give him the credit. Froch also has a puncher’s chance where it’s been said people believe that Ward can’t take a good punch. I think the best fighter will win. I would say Ward by decision if I had to make a choice. I believe it will be one of those close fights but a clear victory still.
Mikkel Kessler: If Froch does his homework, he will beat Ward. Froch has had some very tough fights in the tournament and that will help him. A lot of things went wrong for me when I fought Ward. I had a very bad day. I think Carl has learned from our fight. He is very clever and will have analyzed my fight very well with Ward and learned from the mistakes I made.
Leon Lawson [trainer for Andre Dirrell]: I think that is gonna be a real exciting fight, we have two determined guys in there and they both made it this far so nobody’s trying to go home with a loss. I think it is going to be real entertaining. I think Andre Ward will pull it out and definitely not in an easy victory because Carl Froch is a helluva fighter. He’s a warrior. Not a cakewalk, but I have Andre pulling out. I see Ward winning a close decision. It’s going to be an interesting fight to see.”
Jimmy Montoya: Ward has a lot of boxing skills, is intelligent and knows how to use his skills. Froch is more powerful and very intelligent himself. He can box and he can punch. He does have good power in his hands. He hit my guy a couple times but Kessler was in good condition. They’re very equal as far as skills are concerned. I think Froch can beat him because he is a taller guy with a longer reach. If he uses his reach, Froch will win.
Gary Shaw: I think Froch will win a decision but it will be a very close, tough fight.
Ronnie Shields: I think what people underestimate about Andre Ward is that he is a complete fighter. He’s not the kind of guy who seems like he takes anybody lightly. This is why he is able to do all the things that he does. Froch is a good fighter, he can hurt you, but he is not a one punch kind of guy. He knows how to get you out after he hurts you. I believe this is a distance fight and its gonna be a good fight early. As the rounds lay on and Froch tries to box more, that is when Andre will put the pressure on he’s gonna make Froch work harder than he ever has in his life. He’s going to make him miss and Andre is going to counter and hit Froch.
I didn’t really know if Carl Froch would get there. I always thought Andre Ward was going to win this from the beginning. Andre Ward via wide decision, no controversy whatsoever.
What did you think of the Super Six experience as a whole?
Lou DiBella: I enjoyed it. There wasn’t a fighter involved that wasn’t a good guy. I enjoyed meeting everyone involved. It was an innovative concept even though it had its hiccups. It had its up and downs, dragged on longer than we thought, a lot of guys fell out. Ken Hershman did a great job putting it together. I think maybe you could learn some things about how this went and tweak some things differently. I thought it was fun. And that it established a hierarchy.
Andre Dirrell: It has made both of them better fighters. There’s a lot of fighters that haven’t been tested. This tournament really brought something new to the table and made boys into men, made champions into greats. Stuff like this will put you in the books for life. This is something very exciting to see and the fans love worldwide. I only seeing this being a positive. I feel good about joining this tournament and bad about having to back out.
Dan Goossen [promoter of Andre Ward]: You think about Arthur Abraham, who was 1-2 in the three stage fights but he made it to the semi-finals based upon a knockout and if he could have scored the upset against Andre Ward, he reverses all the losses he incurred in one fight. In our sport it’s very hard to have someone that’s won one fight out of his last three and to be in a position to turn it all around with one fight. Those are benefits for the fighters that join the tournament and make the commitment to fight one tough fight after another and realize even in losing they can still end up becoming a winner. Similar to what you see in our other sports like baseball and basketball where you can lose and still come back and win a series of other games and end up coming out on top. It’s a lot more forgiving in the Super Six format for losing. From the winner’s standpoint you are taking on a much higher risk, bigger reward position going through the winners bracket. You’re always facing a hungry fighter.
Glen Johnson: Anything that has to do with the best fighting each other is a good thing. I don’t believe in handpicked fights, and once you establish yourself as a world class fighter you have to fight the best.
Leon Lawson: It still hasn’t answered all the questions. But when they do match them up everybody will get their answers.
Gary Shaw: I think five promoters working together in the same weight class is always going to be good. I think tweaking has to be done where it’s not as long as a tournament. I think it is only fitting that the last two standing were at least two of the original six.
Mark Ortega can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter at @OrtegaLIITR.