Atlantic City, N.J. (AP) — The Bay Area’s Andre Ward staked his claim as the top 168-pound division fighter, using his speed and a combination of lefts to defeat Carl Froch in a unanimous decision Saturday night at Boardwalk Hall in the Super Six super middleweight tournament final.
Ward, the Olympic gold medalist from Oakland, retained his WBA championship and won the WBC super middleweight belt in the final bout of the unique tournament that stretched out over two years.
“One of the strongest assets I have is my mind. I kept my composure, I kept things under control. And we pulled it off,” Ward said. “I hope I did a good job. But we can still get better, believe it or not.”
Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) dictated the pace from the opening round, connecting on a series of left hooks to rattle Froch. Froch, out of Nottingham, England, never came close to getting knocked out. Froch (28-2, 20 KOs) did not get going until late, though, finally showing some overdue aggression in the 10th.
“I wanted to put my shots together, but he moves around, and slips and slides. He’s very good at that,” Froch said. “And that’s why it was a bad night for me.”
Ward dominated the six-man, 168-pound tournament, backed by premium network Showtime. And he did so — on this night, at least — despite injuring his left hand in camp, and then again in the sixth round.
“Give credit to Andre. I never found myself in the zone where I could get my shots off and do what I wanted,” Froch said. “That’s something I’m going to have to work on in the gym.”
One judge scored it 118-110 and two others had it 115-113 for Ward.
“We wanted to fight inside and outside, and we pulled it off,” Ward said. “I was actually surprised at how slow Froch was. He was as slow as he was on tape.”
Ward and Froch were slated to meet Oct. 29 before Ward was injured in training and the fight was rescheduled. Ward needed stitches for a cut above his right eye.
Ward still hasn’t lost a bout since he was an amateur. He entered the Super Six tourney as an underdog to the more experienced Arthur Abraham, Froch and Mikkel Kessler.
He proved himself as the best of them all in Atlantic City.
Ward smothered Froch when they were close, then was elusive enough to keep his distance from Froch for most of the bout. Ward said he was surprised at how slow Froch was during the 12-round fight.
Ward landed 243 of 573 of his punches (42 percent) while Froch was a miserable 23 percent (156 of 683). Froch, who lost and regained his WBC belt during the inaugural tournament, averaged only 56 punches per round after averaging 69 in his previous four Super Six fights.
“I never found myself in the zone where I could get my shots off and do what I want. That’s something I’m going to have to work on in the gym.”
Froch, 34, went 4-1 in the previous rounds of the tournament. He opened with a 12-round decision over Andre Dirrell on Oct. 17, 2009, then rebounded from the first loss of his career — a 12-round decision to Kessler on April, 24, 2010 — with decision victories over Abraham and Glen Johnson, respectively.
The tournament took a bit of a hit with various boxers dropping out because of injuries. Ward proved himself as one of the elite with wins over Kessler and Allan Green to reach the semifinals against Abraham, who advanced despite losing twice.
Ward dominated with the left hook in the first few rounds to set the tone for the rest of the lopsided bout and add the tournament trophy to go with his Olympic gold and unified belts.