Promoter Wilfried Sauerland was not amused by comments made by Virgil Hunter at Wednesday's final press conference for the Super Six World Boxing Classic semifinals match between Andre Ward and his fighter, Arthur Abraham.
Hunter, Ward's trainer, told Abraham that Sauerland has lost confidence in him because he demanded neutral judges and a neutral referee for their bout, which takes place at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Saturday.
Sauerland, a hall-of-fame enshrined promoter from Germany, held his tongue (for the most part) at the press conference but on Thursday he issued the following statement:
“I see no problem in asking for a non-Californian referee – and that´s not just because it was guaranteed in the contract,” Sauerland said. “I am not sure what leads Virgil to believe that we have lost confidence in Arthur. Maybe he is getting a little nervous because Andre Ward is not fighting in Oakland this time."
Ward's last three fights, which include his first- and second-round Super Six bouts against Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green, have taken place at the Oracle Arena in the undefeated WBA super middleweight titleholder's hometown of Oakland, Calif.
"I thought it was funny that (Ward's promoter) Dan Goossen complained about the five-hour drive Ward had to take to come down to L.A. for this fight. But then again, if you are used to fighting at your protected home base, traveling 400 miles might seem like a huge inconvenience, so let us not hold it against them. All the comments from their camp and the problems with the officials are a clear indication that they do not feel comfortable about fighting away from home, even though they are still in their home state. So it's them who are losing confidence in their fighter, not us.
“King Arthur has traveled over 40,000 miles during the course of the tournament and he is ready for a big fight on Saturday night. Nobody will be able to protect Ward from Arthur's power.”
Meanwhile, Abraham is getting ready for the big fight. After the final press conference, the former IBF middleweight beltholder checked out The Home Depot Center's outdoor tennis arena, where Showtime will air the fight on Saturday.
“It's a great venue and I am thrilled to make my first open-air fight,” he said. “There is a lot at stake. I know that Andre Ward is a tough and very skilled opponent. But my goal is to become a superstar in America, and in order to do so, I need to defeat Ward. I am prepared for a real battle and a huge victory for my legions of fans all over the world.”
Photo of Abraham overlooking the Home Depot Center by Marco Krause-Team Sauerland. Photo of Virgil Hunter addressing Team Sauerland at the press conference by Tom Casino-Showtime.