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RING Pass: Ward vs. Froch

HEAD-TO-HEAD ANALYSIS

 

Skills

Both Ward and Froch are tall, rangy boxers who are gifted with exceptional ring intellgence and uncommon determination. Ward, the more technically sharp of the two, employs a classic one-two style that is backed up by elite-level athleticism. He is the more econimocal puncher of the two and probably the more efficient inside fighter. Froch, the more active and aggressive fighter, is a good coutner and combination puncher. Both fighters are underrated body punchers.

Edge: Ward

Power

Froch, the naturally bigger man, has scored 20 stoppages in his 29 pro bouts for a respectable 68.97 KO percantage. Ward has stopped 13 of his 24 pro opponents for an OK 54.17 KO percentage. It should be noted that all of Ward’s knockouts were against second-tier and journeyman-level opposition, and some of those bouts took place at middleweight. Froch has stopped a few world-class fighters, including Jermain Taylor, Robin Reid and Brian Magee.  

Edge: Froch

Speed and athletic ability

Froch is a good overall athlete who is gifted impressive durability and tremendous stamina, but in terms of raw talent, he can’t compete with Ward, who possesses world-class speed, reflexes and hand-eye coordination. Ward doesn’t have the kind of explosive muscles that translates into punching power, but he has surprising physical strength, which compliments his quick feet and nimble in-and-out movement.   

Edge: Ward

Defense

Ward uses his ultra-quick reflexes, uper-body movement, and ability to tie opponents up on the inside to avoid getting hit. Froch, who likes to keep his hands down around his beltline, prefers to lean way from incoming punches. Ward’s style is inherently more defensive than Froch’s aggressive tactics.  

Edge: Ward

Experience

Froch has more fights (29 to 24), more pro rounds under his belt (199 to 151) and he’s faced more quality opponents than Ward. The two-time WBC titleholder has fought six major beltholders, including former RING champs Glen Johnson, Jean Pascal and Taylor. Ward has faced two major titleholders, Arthur Abraham and Mikkel Kessler (both whom have fought Froch).

Edge: Froch

Chin

Both fighters have been dropped and wobbled in pro fights. The difference is that Froch tasted canvas and was rocked by world-class fighters, Andre Direll (who buzzed him a few times) and Taylor (who floored him in the third round of their fight); while Ward experienced adversity against jounreymen (dropped by Darnell Boone and wobbled by Kenny Kost). It should be noted, however, that Ward fought Kost and Boone in his second and seventh pro bouts.

Edge: Froch

Conditioning

Both fighters train all year, regardless if they have a fight scheduled, and both are almost fanatical about their preparation once a bout has been made.

Edge: Even

Wear and tear

Neither fighter has taken a sustained beating in the ring, but Froch, the older man (34) with more rounds under his belt, has been in a few tough fights, including his 12-round battle with Pascal and his 12-round shootout with Kessler.  

Edge: Ward

Corner

Virgil Hunter was never a professional boxer like Froch‘s coach, Robert McCracken, but the god father and trainer of Ward has produced spectacular results with his god son. Hunter, the only trainer Ward has ever had, guided his fighter to a reported 110-5 amateur record that included several a national titles and an Olympic gold medal. Ward hasn’t lost a bout, amateur or pro, since 1998 under Hunter’s guidance. Hunter has known exactly when to hold his fighter back in terms of the quality of his opposition and when to step it up. McCracken, a former middleweight contender and title challenger in the 1990s, hasn’t worked corners  for very long but he possesses the invaluable experience have having been a world-class pro and Birmingham native may yet turn out to be a better trainer than he was fighter. McCracken, who helped developed Froch into one of the world’s top super middleweights, also trains British standouts John O’Donnell and Lenny Daws. His work with amateur boxers over the years was so impressive the British Amateur Boxing Association made him their performance director in November of 2009. Under McCracken’s guidance the British amateur squad took six medals (two gold and four silver) at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and five medals at last year’s European Championships (Britain’s best showing since 1961). Both Hunter, who also trains 140-pound prospect Mike Dallas and undefeated middleweight Brandon Gonzalez, and McCracken share uncommonly strong bonds of trust with their star fighters.

Edge: Even

Outcome

The Super Six World Boxing Classic final will start out as a chess match as the two rangy ring generals use the early rounds to assess each other’s styles. The two titleholders will split the first four rounds while emplying jab-from-a-distance tactics. It will be Froch, the more impetuous fighter by nature, who make the first move to take over the bout simply by stepping up his pressure and punch volume in the fifth round of the bout. He’ll take that round by stunning Ward with a left hook-right uppercut combination. Froch won’t be able to follow up because Ward will not only effectively tie him up, but the American will force the Brit to the ropes where they will trace furioiusly. The heated exchanges will continue in rounds six, seven and eight. Ward will score with jolting jabs, right hands and compact left hooks. Froch will score with a two-fisted body attack, swatting left hooks, and looping uppercuts. Ward will land the cleaner punches but Froch will outwork him during their exchanges. Sensing that Froch could be winning some of their hotly competive rounds, Ward will make a tactical change in the final rounds of the bout, by getting on his toes and sticking and moving from a distance.  

Prediction: Ward wins a close, perhaps controversial, unanimous decision.

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