- The announcement of the Super Six Supermiddleweight tourney a couple of years back was a huge promotional boost for boxing, Showtime, and the original fighters, Arthur Abraham, Andre Dirrell, Jermain Taylor, Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, and Andre Ward.
Promotional squabbles, injuries, poor health, poorer officiating, and sorry scheduling have combined with short term fan memories to take considerable shine off of the involved parties.
The tourney favorite now, Andre Ward, should be at a high career point as the last American Olympic Boxing Gold Medalist, but hardly anyone outside his immediate family knows him, and certainly nobody bigs up his flashy resume, silky boxing skills, and thrilling public persona for good reason since he is none of those things.
Arthur Abraham enters this bout at the lowest point of his previously undefeated championship career, coming off his only two losses with critics now questioning his style, heart, and talent.
So, the fight has become essentially meaningless with the general public and barely registers with boxing enthusiasts as the Super Six Supermiddleweight tourney officially slides into terminal torpor, which is a shame given the level of talent packed into this tourney and the hoopla it stirred.
That Ward continues to recieve blatant favoritism by never having to travel beyond his home environs should be a warning for future fighters signing on for these tournies. So far the “homies” have remained undefeated thanks to sometimes specious officiating designed to protect the hometown fighter whenever things ain’t going his way.
That’s not to say some of the hometown fighters didn’t deserve their hard earned victories, but rather noting that in the more competitive contests, clearly the odds were stacked against the visiting fighter, the reason why the Froch/Abraham bout was held in Finland. That eliminated hometown boxing commission favoritism and it was telling the fight was the cleanest of the tourney thus far.
How the Ward/Abraham fight plays out is hard to tell other than Ward should be a substantial betting favorite with recent career momentum and home advantages swinging his way. Stylistically, his current form shows him to be a fundamentally sound boxer type with a strong bent towards dirty fighting, headbutts being his dirty little favorite, but also some unseemly grappling, rabbit punches, hitting on the break, and general ugly mayhem, things that get opposing fighters complaining to the ref and off their fight plans.
Abraham is the slugger in this match with proven power, but he can also be a slow starting, clumsy looking fighter when on the hunt, open to being out maneuvered and outboxed as Carl Froch most recently showed in his last encounter. Abraham is the shortest boxer of all the super six by a substantial margin which may innoculate him against the Ward butts. Though Abraham is extremely strong for his size, it’s a given that Ward is the bigger man and may try to test Abraham early by muscling him inside and brawling to confuse him.
It’s up to Abraham to figure out how to best apply his power to Ward. He did hurt the durable Froch late in their fight, but it was too little delivered too late and I just can’t see him outboxing Ward, so it’s knockout or bust for this fight, something Abraham thrived on in before his last two fights robbed him of his invincible mojo.
Ward turned pro with rumors of a weak chin being the reason this touted Olympic Gold Medalist has taken the slow train to nowhere approach to his career and likely the real reason for his dirty fighting. Thus far though, he has endured every good shot, but it’s fair to say that Abraham even in his diminished capacity of late has more power than Ward has ever experienced, and in an awkward fight as I suspect this will be, King Arthur could well surprise.
They turned pro within a year of each other, but Abraham has logged considerably more fights and rounds, 34/226 compared to Ward who has notched 23 fights in 139 rounds. So add in that Abraham has been fighting at championship level for some 7 yrs and near his athletic prime at age 31, that’s a significant advantage that many are overlooking for this fight since the 27 year old Ward is a relative newcomer to title fights with his 3rd defense of his WBA strap .
Strategically, King Arthur’s long time trainer Ulli Wegner is used to European style boxing where German refs don’t tolerate dirty fighting. Wegner and Abraham had a public falling out after the Froch loss before making up, but I can’t say if all the residual bad feelings between the two have been settled coming into this fight. Can Wegner properly train a fighter for the foot movement and brawling, mauling style of a Ward type of fighter?
More disturbing, Abraham’s promoter, Hall of Famer Wilfried Saurland has warned that he will keep Abraham at home if the California Boxing Commission can’t appoint “neutral” officials for this fight, so lots of “ifs” going into the fight.
Thankfully in a recent interview, Abraham sounded confident and ready to fight, so it may be worthwhile to tune in this Saturday, May 14th at Home Depot Center, Carson, California to see if anyone shows up.