Young Andre Ward is one of boxing's ultimate technicians. Will that be enough to win over fight fans? It did last night at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Ca. While turning in a near flawless performance against one of the toughest veteran fighters in the world, the crowd, filled with Armenian fans, rooting on Arthur Abraham, starting chanting for Ward by the middle of the fight.
Ward mentally broke and fatigued Abraham to roll to a unanimous decision victory, 118-111, 118-110 and 120-108, in the semifinals of Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic.
Abraham, a loser of three-of-four, guaranteed that he'd win the fight and Ward would wilt under his power. He never landed that fight changing blow. His best shots came in the third and at the end of the tenth round. Beyond that, Abraham (32-3, 26 KOs) was either covering up or whiffing with wild left hooks. Ward's defense- through-offense stymied, confused, frustrated and wore down the 31-year-old Armenian.
Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) is slated to face the winner of the June 4 semifinal between Carl Froch and Glen Johnson. He's now 4-0 in the Super Six. The tourney has served him well.
The same can't be said for Abraham. There's nothing wrong with losing to top notch opponents, plus he's also raised his profile with the American audience, but the problem moving forward is his stubbornness about cutting weight. He needs to head back down to middleweight where his 5-foot-9 frame belongs. In a short conversation with Showtime's Jim Gray after the fight, Abraham said he won't be moving down.
After three rounds, Abraham actually led 29-28 on most scorecards. Ward turned up the heat and battered Abraham to the body, to get him to lower his hands. By the seventh round, Abraham was breathing through his mouth and shaking his head on some of the body shots. Over the finals five rounds, Abraham had very little fight left. Ward even switched to southpaw for most of the tenth and tore up Abraham.
Even without those highlight reel knockouts, Ward's future is ridiculously bright. If he comes out of the tourney a winner, Lute Bute should be waiting for him. There could also be a rematch against Froch or Johnson. And don't forget about all the talent young and old at 175 pounds with Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson and Jean Pascal. The key to making him into a household name is staying active. Ward's fought four times in the last 17 months. He needs to stay on that pace. If that means going to Montreal to fight Bute in front of 21,000 at the Bell Centre, then do it.