BAD YEAR FOR THE BRITS
How’s it going? I’ve been a long time reader of The Ring website and your mailbag, but this is the first time I’ve written in, but I’ll do my best to get to the point:-
1. Super Six Final- Were you surprised how one-sided the fight was in the end? I wasn’t. I like Carl Froch as a guy and a fighter, but I felt that Andre Ward exposed Froch’s weaknesses to the point where The Cobra just didn’t know what to do. If you watch Froch’s fights with Andre Dirrell and Jermain Taylor you can see how he struggles against speed. The only reason he didn’t lose those fights was because one was in his hometown (I fight I was at) and the other was against a guy who inexplicably can’t last 12 rounds. Ward’s speed, slick movement to avoid punches and his accurate counter punching made it almost impossible for someone as slow as Froch to lay a glove on the guy. Froch has achieved a hell of a lot in the last 2 years, but he’s 34 so maybe its time to call it a day now? Also, how the hell did two of the judges score it 115-113???!!! I couldn’t believe that. I gave Froch three rounds and I thought that was generous.
2. Andre Ward- He looks like a very special boxer. Hopefully he will fight Lucian Bute, which is a fight I’m pretty confident he’ll win and then he can clean up that division and move up to light-heavyweight. Some interesting fights there against Hopkins, Cloud or Cleverly perhaps? I would love to see any of them.
3. It’s definitely been a bad year for British boxing (with the exception of Ricky Burns). Haye, Khan and now Froch have all lost their world champion status and now only Nathan Cleverly is flying the flag. However, what did you make of Kell Brook? I fancy him to be wearing a championship belt next year.
P.S.-look out for Chris Eubank Jnr. He is the next big thing in British boxing.
Thanks Dougie, keep up the good work! — Ed, Nottingham, UK
Thanks for finally writing in, Ed. I’ll answer your questions in order:
1) I was surprised by the dominant fashion that Ward outpointed (and I would even use the word “outclassed”) Froch. I liked Ward on points going in but I thought it would be a close decision to a competitive match. It wasn’t close or competitive to my eyes. If you scored three rounds for Froch I think you were almost being too generous. (I only scored one round for him.) The two official scores of 115-113 were criminal. Basically, if Froch had legitimately won a three or four rounds, those bozos would have had him winning the fight, which would have just been wrong. Those scores rewarded Froch for ineffective activity and for taking a good ass kicking. Ward was not only the better technician and superior tactical fighter, but he outmuscled Froch and appeared to land the harder shots. Anyway, going into the bout, I understood that Froch struggled with both Dirrell and Taylor. I also thought Dirrell won and I had Taylor up on points before Froch stopped him in the final round. However, I didn’t think either Dirrell or Taylor dominated Froch, so I had a hard time envisioning Ward, who isn’t as fast or mobile as Dirrell and isn’t as offensive minded as Taylor, doing so. I was wrong. As your hometown hero did during his post-fight interview, I give the American boxer all his due credit. And no, I don’t think Froch should even think about retirement. There’s no shame in losing to Ward and he’s not an “old” 34. I’d love to see a Froch take on Kelly Pavlik or face Mikkel Kessler again.
2) Ward IS a special fighter. The Super Six tournament proved it. I think Ward vs. Bute is the fight to be made in the 168-pound division. However, I’m fine with Ward fighting whoever he wants in the first defense of THE RING title, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Bute face Froch or Kessler or one of the Dirrell brothers, but if Ward and Bute are still undefeated by the end of 2012 I think their showdown HAS to happen before either fighter thinks about going to 175 pounds. Ward won’t fight Hopkins, who he views as a role model, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him challenge Dawson, Pascal, Cloud or Shumenov at light heavyweight.
3) I think British boxing is rather strong going into 2012. Yes, Haye, Khan and Froch lost their titles, but boxing is about more than the belts. I don’t think Khan or Froch lost any fans because they lost their hardware. Both fighters tried their best, which is all anyone can ask of them. I think both will bounce back with big UK fights next year. As for Haye, well, he was going to retire anyway. With upwardly mobile young fighters such as Burns, Cleverly, Brook, Groves, DeGale, Quigg, Gavin, Fury and Chisora, I think the future of British boxing looks bright.
I’ll keep an eye out for Eubank Jr. We’ll see if he turns out to be “Simply the Best” like his old man.
WHO IS THE FIGHTER OF THE YEAR?
I’m a first-time writer, long-time reader from far far away in Sweden. Who do you think deserves to be crowned Fighter of the Year and why? If Juan Manuel Marquez would have fought Katsidis in 2011, I would have given it to him. Mainly because his great performance against Pacquiao in a weight class high above his proper weight. I know he’s not being considered, but IF he would win the honor, it would be awkward (and awesome!). A real kick in the ass of the establishment and the judges. Kind of like Roy Jones in the 1988 Olympics when he recieved the award for best fighter of the tournament, but less extreme.
Andre Ward had a great victory the other night, but if you compare it to Sergio Martinez’s achievements last year, Ward falls short. Beating Abraham wasn’t a big deal this year. Miguel Cotto? Weak opposition. Saul Alvarez has been active against decent opponents, but still not enough. Who else is out there to win? Nonito Donaire? Naahh. I watched Wladimir Klitschko stink it out live at Imtech Arena (my first time in the stands) and I never want him to win it, ever. Floyd Mayweather? Not active enough and he ducked Larry Merchant.
Jokes aside, I think Bernard Hopkins is the logical winner of 2011 with his performance against Jean Pascal in mind. Who’s yours? — Adam Stighall
Ward will get my vote (for both THE RING’s and the Boxing Writer Association of America’s Fighter of the Year award). I agree that beating King Arthur isn’t that big of a deal after the rugged Armenian’s losses to Dirrell and Froch, but his performance against The Cobra this past Saturday was not only impressive but very significant. He took on the second-best 168 pounder in the sport, dominated him, unfied two major belts (the WBC and WBA), won THE RING’s vacant title, and earned the inagural Super Six World Boxing Classic trophy.
My runner up is Jorge Arce, who upset unbeaten WBO 122-pound beltholder Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. in a great fight, defended that title against The last man to beat him (Simphiwe Nongqayi), and then dropped down to bantamweight, where he won the WBO’s vacant 118-pound title (against an admittedly weak opponent – Angky Angkota), which made him only the second Mexican fighter to have held major belts in four divisions.
Thanks for finally writing in, Adam. Don’t be a stranger 2012.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT ANDRE WARD
First-time writer here. I think the word that best describes Ward throughout the long-drawn Super Six tournament is poise. And his fight with Carl Froch is exemplary of this. His demeanor entering the ring and throughout the bout was that of pure confidence; as if he already had that next ‘W’ on his record. Even during the times when he and Froch were mixing it up on the inside, it never seemed like he lost control of the pace.
I have been really impressed with him, inside and outside the ring, since the beginning of the tournament. I suppose from here all roads lead to Bute, but what do you think? Are there any other fights in the Super Middleweight division worth looking forward to? I kind of feel like the division has been cleaned out now that the tourney is over. That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing Sergio Martinez going up in weight and taking the fight to some of these guys.
Oh, and how do you like Japanese boxers lately? They don’t seem to get much coverage in The Ring lately despite seeming to be having a lot of championship belts (I say this with much discretion) right now. At the moment, I think there are something like 7+ belt-holders on this little archipelago. I even ran into Tomonobu Shimizu on the street the other day!
I love your mailbag and read it religiously. Keep up the good work! — Benjamin from Tokyo
Thank you for the flattering words, Benjamin. It’s nice to hear from “first-timers.” I think the Super Six tournament brought you guys out of hiding, especially regular readers from outside of the U.S. Keep the emails coming, folks. You don’t have to be Floyd Mayweather hater or nut-hugger to email me.
Anyway, I agree that a RING feature story on a Japanese standout is overdue. Japanese fighters are certainly well represented in THE RING’s rankings, but they don’t get enough ink in the rest of the magagzine (or this website). That will change in 2012.
Right now my favorite Japanese boxers are Toshiaki Nishioka (the WBC 122-pound titleholder), Takashi Uchiyama (the WBA 130-pound beltholder), Kazuto Ioka (WBC strawweight king) and middleweight spoiler Nobuhiro Ishida (who trains in Southern Cali).
Regarding Ward, I think your thoughts on the new champ are “spot on” as the Brits would say. His character and poise has as much to do with his success as his ring IQ, skill, athleticism and tenacity.
Do “all roads lead to Bute”? I think Ward would say all roads lead to him, but yes, I think there are other interesting bouts to made in the 168-pound division beyond the big Ward-Bute showdown.
I think Ward has a point when he says Bute should take on an “A-level” opponent before he challenges for THE RING belt, and I wouldn’t mind watching the Romanian-Canadian star fight Froch, Kessler or either Dirrell brother. I’d like to see Froch-Kessler II, or either fighter take on Pavlik or Robert Stieglitz.
Heck, I think Abraham is still serviceable as a gate keeper for up-and-comers like George Groves, Thomas Oosthuizen and James DeGale.
Forget about Martinez going to 168 pounds. His promoter Lou DiBella and adviser Sampson Lewkowicz won’t let him do that.
I picked Ward to win the fight in what I thought was 50/50 going in, but honestly, I could tell early in the first round that Froch was not in Ward’s class and could not beat him. My early observation proved to be correct, but even in that early observation I didn’t think Ward would be THAT dominant and the fight to be that one sided. The first 8 or 9 rounds were total dominance and a shut out. The only thing that saved Froch from losing every round was Ward getting tired from beating Froch’s ass for 9 rounds! Froch has got some chin! I do like his class at the end of the fight.
Back to Ward, early in the first round Ward threw a hard, crisp, quick, textbook left hook off the break and I knew he meant business. That showed me that he was coming for ass and he was ready to fight. He dominated every aspect of the fight, close range, long range, mid range, bang, box, defense, whatever Froch tried Ward would not be denied. No matter what Froch wanted to do, Ward was going to change his mind. Ward is a complete fighter. I’ve got to say, that if he continues this trajectory, he could be better than, PBF, BHOP and RJJ. I mean, he incorporates a lot of those fighters games. He obviously fights a lot more than PBF, but has the slippery defense, he gets inside and bangs like BHOP, I mean, the dude is a complete fighter. I’m not saying he will accomplish all of what those guys did, but he has really mastered all aspects of the game. I give Bute no shot at beating him, same with Sergio Martinez, even though I like Martinez a lot. Dirrell bitched out of fighting him for a reason, and now we know why. – JCB
I agree that Ward is a complete fighter. In describing what Ward did to him over 12 rounds, Froch brought up the names of Mayweather and Evander Holyfield. Think about that combination for a minute. Master technique and defensive prowess meets relentless tenacity and roughhouse tactics. It doesn’t look good for Ward’s future opponents. And I’d heavily favor Ward to beat every world-class super middleweight that he hasn’t already embarrassed.
I don’t think Ward will get a real challenge until he steps up to light heavyweight, where I believe Chad Dawson can give him a fight. It would be interesting to see how Ward fares against the brute strength and activity of Tavoris Cloud or Beibut Shumenov, but I think he’d handle both rugged beltholders. Give Ismayl Sillakh and Nathan Cleverly another year to develop and they might have the right mix of height, reach, skill and talent to give Ward a fight. Hopefully we’ll find out in the next 24 months.
Top of the mornin to ya Dougie! What can I say, Dre Ward was on another level than The Cobra, taking out yet another top European… can’t say most of us hardcore heads didn’t see that coming but hey Froch at least went out on his shield (wouldnt expect anything less…). The primary difference to me were Ward’s shorter, more compact punches. I mean you give that guy a half an inch and he’s gonna hit you with a short clean shot. Froch’s punches were just too wide and loopy, that’s all there was to it.
Can we agree Ward’s pretty much a younger, faster B-Hop? Smart as s__t and the will to match. Which leads me to who his next opponent should be after he beats the Romanian-Canadian (and trust me the slick body snatcher Bute is one of my favorites on the planet…) — Sergio Martinez aka Jones Jr to Ward’s Hopkins. THAT would be a pure boxing fan’s dream match, whatuthink Dougie??
And keep keepin’ the irrational boxing fans in their rightful place — on the mat, looking up at a ten count, KTFO! The message boards and forums are a cesspool of jackasses that need that occasional smackdown!
Peace in the Middle East. — Dustin in Nashville
Amen to that, Dustin, but in the ring, let there be war.
I think Ward-Martinez at 168 pounds is a dream match, but it will never happen. Martinez’s brain trust know they have a monster at 154-160 pounds, but not above middleweight. I think Maravilla can beat a lot of RING-ranked 168 pounders, but the super middleweight champ ain’t one of ‘em.
Ward is definitely the new Hopkins, but Martinez is not the new Jones. The middelweight champ is good, damn good, but he doesn’t have the off-the-charts talent Jones had at 160 and 168 pounds.
You’re right about those compact punches being the difference against Froch, especially when Ward put them together. I think he would have knocked out a lot of top fighters on Saturday. If Ward lands the same shots on Bute, don’t be surprised if he scores a KO.
THE OAKLAND RAIDER
What’s up Dougie,
I’m happy for Andre Ward. I knew he could beat this guy, and I was right when I said that Froch wouldn’t be as aggressive once he tasted Andre’s power. I just wish “The Oakland Raider” would go in for the kill, that way dumb asses, like the fool that Tweeted your boy Steve Kim wouldn’t call him the “Paulie Malignaggi of the 168 division.” What an idiot! Anyway, I thought Ward put on another boxing clinic against a rough and tough foe. I don’t see things going any differently against Lucian Bute. What do you think, Dougie? — Miguel, LBC
I favor The Oakland Raider (I like your nickname even more than Dustin’s “Eurocutioner” moniker) to beat every world-class super middleweight, including Bute (who I respect).
I think we’ll see Ward “go for the kill” the next time he wobbles his opponent. He was throwing KO heat against Froch. If Froch didn’t possess a world-class chin I think he would have been laid out.
Doug Fischer can be emailed at email@example.com