Having looked at two key Sergey Kovalev performances, I now cast my severely untrained eye over two of Andre Ward’s best fights.
Andre Ward vs Carl Froch, for the WBC and WBA Super-Middleweight Titles and The Super Six Tournament Final, Atlantic City, New Jersey, 17th December 2011
Andre Ward pulled out his best performance to win the Super 6 Super-Middleweight tournament at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
In a good but frustrating tournament, as multiple fighters dropped out, the final matched Ward with the UK’s own Carl Froch, a man with a superb chin and incredible will to fight. Ward had beaten Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green and Arthur Abraham quite handily to earn his place in the final, whereas Froch had scraped past Andre Dirrell, lost to Kessler and outpointed Abraham and Glen Johnson to be his opponent.
Froch was expected to make Ward dig deep and prove he could fight as well as box, and he did that to an extent, but Ward showed that he was levels above Froch. Ward simply dominated Froch for thirty six minutes, he kept his distance and hit, without being hit, and he also out-muscled the tough Nottingham man, pushing him against the ropes frequently. He made Froch look foolish at times, as he easily avoided desperate hooks from the Cobra.
The Sky commentary, despite being overly generous to Froch, acknowledged Ward’s superior skill in the fight. Amazingly, two judges scored the fight 115-113 to Ward (I had it 119-109 to Ward, whilst Jim Watt had it 117-112). With this win, Andre Ward won the Super 6, and was officially the best Super-Middleweight in the world.
Andre Ward vs Chad Dawson, for the WBC and WBA Super-Middleweight Titles, Oakland, California, 8th September 2012.
After an injury layoff, Ward returned to the ring nine months after winning the Super 6 to take on Light-Heavyweight champion Chad Dawson.
Dawson presented a different challenge to Froch, but Ward once again out thought his opponent, displaying his inside fighting to great effect. By doing this, he was able to stop Dawson from utilising his good jab, a punch Dawson only landed seven times.
After a tight first two rounds, I gave them a round apiece, Ward dropped Dawson with a sweet left hand in round three. From then on, it was all Ward, as he put Dawson on the canvas again in round four. Dawson was living in a nightmare in the ring, there were two rounds (rounds 7 and 10) where he did not land a single punch. He was spared more punishment when he was stopped in round 10, his legs and mind clearly gone.
The Compubox numbers tell the story of this fight. Ward landed 155 of 418 punches in total, whilst Dawson landed just twenty nine in the entire fight. Another great performance…
This fight took place at Super-Middleweight, Chad Dawson is a Light-Heavyweight, meaning he had to drop an extra seven pounds to fight Ward, a catastrophic decision. Dawson was obviously weight drained, but it was still a good showing from Ward in his home town of Oakland.
This Saturday though, he won’t be facing a weight drained fighter, he will be fighting the Light-Heavyweight king at Light-Heavyweight. Ward is a master in ring craft, what plan will he use against Sergey Kovalev? Will he fight from range like Froch, or come inside like he did against Dawson? It will be fascinating to see.