The promoter of WBA super middleweight titleholder Andre Ward confirmed two earlier reports by RingTV.com that the boxer has received seven stitches to repair a cut over his right eye, an injury which occurred during a Thursday sparring session.
The injury has forced the postponement of Ward’s scheduled fight with WBC counterpart Carl Froch that was slated for Oct. 29 in Atlantic City, N.J.
Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) was to face Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) in the final bout of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic.
Ward confirmed the injury late on Thursday from his Twitter account.
“Bad News: I sustained a cut in sparring a few hours ago,” wrote Ward. “Flew to LA to see the Doc. I got 7 stitches. I will let you know the new date soon.”
Ward spoke on Friday during a press release.
“I’m extremely disappointed about this cut. We used every precaution, including headgear with a face bar and it was just a fluke situation. My sparring partner and I were involved in an exchange inside and the next thing I knew, I was bleeding. That is the most frustrating thing about this—I don’t have an explanation for how it happened. This is very frustrating for my camp and I, and I knew that if the shoe was on the other foot and Froch suffered an injury, I would be extremely disappointed. ,” said Ward.
“We were in full camp and counting down the days until October 29. At this point, I’m looking forward to healing up and getting a new date to finish what I started and become the Super Six Champion. I’d like to express my apologies to Showtime, the fans and the Froch camp, but this is part of boxing. Ward and Froch will still get it on but, unfortunately, the date just has to be pushed back.”
Promoter Dan Goossen said that the bout has “Definitely it’s been postponed,” adding that he is working on a new date with Showtime’s General Manager of Sports Ken Hershman.
“There is no new date,” said Goossen. “I’m going to be speaking with Ken and Andre and the doctor shortly and we will hopefully have something soon.”
Ward’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, said the fighter left his camp workout on Thursday afternoon in Oakland, Calif. “at about 5:20 p.m.,” and was flown to Los Angeles. There, Ward was picked up at the airport by Goossen, who took him to California-based ringside doctor and plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Wallace.
“I met Andre out here at the airport out here and we went to the doctors and obviously had the stitches put in. It was Dr. Paul Wallace. I guess that we were there for about 45 minutes. Next Thursday, he’ll go back and have Dr. Wallace take the stitches out and take a look at the eye and make sure that it heals properly,” said Goossen.
“Dr. Wallace said that we were very fortunate that it was a straight cut and not jagged. There was no internal damage done to the eye. So from that standpoint, it was a clean bill of health. It’s just a matter of healing the eye.”
Goossen also expressed disappointment.
“This fight has a lot of buzz behind it and people were really looking forward to it and anticipating it. Tickets were going tremendously well. You’ve got to deal with these things. It does no good to just dwell on how good everything was going. I figure that this will be very similar to when Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather finally fight,:” said Goossen.
“It will be a bigger fight when they finally step into the ring. Sometimes when things don’t happen when they’re supposed to happen that they’re almost bigger the second time around. So, in this case, we had a great response from the fans, and I figure that this will make it that much more anticipated to see these guys in the ring together.”
Froch, nevertheless, admitted being frustrated by the turn of events.
“This is absurd and unprofessional. Ward needs to get his act together. Of course, you’ve got to take the medical advice seriously, but for a cut to put you out of a fight a full five weeks before the event is ludicrous,” said Ward.
“If it were two weeks out from the fight, maybe I’d understand. But he’s got 35 days to deal with it. To me, he’s showing his weakness. Nothing changes for me. I’ll be ready if and when he shows up.”
During an interview with RingTV.com on Friday morning, Hunter called the sparring incident “the freakiest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“We were sparring, and then the next thing I know, Brandon Gonzalez, one of the sparring partners, says, ‘Man, you’re bleeding.’ Andre walks toward me. I thought that he had gotten a scratch on the bridge on his nose as he came toward me. But once I took the towel and wiped him off and saw the cut, I’m like ‘How on earth did you get that?,” said Hunter.
“I was wondering how it got there. He had the face guard on so you don’t get cut. We had taken all of the necessary precautions. We had put Vaseline on the face and had the head gear on and the whole bit. There didn’t seem to be a punch. Nothing. Andre was wearing the best head gear that he could get. No ridges on it. It’s just incredible. It just seemed like the cut came out of nowhere.”
Hunter said that he examined the head gear Ward was wearing and found nothing wrong with it.
“I expected to see some kind of defect in the head gear like a metal ridge sticking out or something,” said Hunter, “but there was absolutely nothing. It’s the same head gear that we’ve been using for the last year and a half.”
Hunter said that all of the action was filmed by a camera crew from Showtime, which he expects to be shown on the network’s documentary Fight Camp 360.”
“Injuries in boxing are inevitable at this, the highest level of competition. As we’ve done since this tournament’s inception, we’ll forge ahead,” said Hershman.
“We are seeking available dates at this time and hope to have an announcement shortly. Rest assured, we will deliver this dramatic final tournament bout, one that is surely the biggest fight in this division’s history.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com