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20 SEPTEMBER 2014

Where am I? Home Columns Marc Livitz
 

“Notes & Quotes from Andre Ward/Carl Froch Conference Call”


Froch and Ward go head to head
Froch and Ward go head to head

By: Marc Livitz: WBA Super Middleweight champion Andre Ward and WBC champion Carl Froch took part in a 45-minute international media conference call this afternoon to discuss their highly anticipated and long awaited bout on December 17th.

The two are to meet in a 12 round contest in Atlantic City, NJ as part of the epic conclusion to the Super Six World Boxing Classic. The tournament to crown the world’s best Super Middleweight began in late 2009 and has gone through numerous changes in terms of its original participants, while the final itself was postponed for two months due to a cut suffered by Andre Ward in a training session. The fighters, trainers and promoters involved made no secret of their desire for their side to prevail in the contest that will not only see the winner claim the other boxer’s title, but the linear Ring Magazine title and first-ever Super Six World Boxing Classic Cup as well. The bout will air on the Showtime network in the United States, which has broadcast several documentary-style programs (Fight Camp 360 and Staredown, respectively) to heighten the buildup to the final.

Chris DeBlasio of Showtime opened the call by expressing his excitement and positive outlook on the fight scheduled for the 17th. “First off, many thanks to the press for joining us. We are now coming down the home stretch and the the anticipation is palpable. The reaction is overwhelmingly positive. This competition was the first of its kind and its been a wild, wild ride. We are thrilled to reach the final with two of the original six. They each survived a gauntlet of fighters. I can’t overstate how excited we are. (Super Middleweights) Lucien Bute, Mikkel Kessler and Andre Dirrell will all be in attendance. Fight Camp 360 has been very successful and final episode will air this Wednesday (10pm ET). Additionally, Staredown has been very well received. So, a big thanks and congratulations to Andre and Carl. They have both taken on the best fighters and we expect a monstrous finish on the 17th.”, said DeBlasio.

Andre Ward’s promoter, Dan Goossen (of Goossen Tutor Promotions) echoed the same sentiments when he added, “Thanks to Showtime for the conception of the tournament, which I believe is one of the best promotions in boxing of the last twenty to thirty years. It was a guarantee that the best fought the best.”

When asked for his input, Eddie Hearn, who serves as Carl Froch’s promoter replied, “We had a great press tour and the whole journey has been a long process.

What a tough series of fights. We can’t wait for the final. Thanks to Dan, Chris and everyone at Showtime. The documentaries really build the sport up. This is the kind of fight that boxing needs. We are all buzzing for the 17th.”

Virgil Hunter, Andre Ward’s longtime trainer was asked his opinion of his fighter’s preparation for the bout. He answered, “It’s been a nice ride and I’m looking forward to the conclusion. I can’t say that it’s been a perfect camp, but that’s okay as perfection in a camp doesn’t always mean perfection in a fight. We are prepared for everything and Andre is ready to make a statement.”

Carl Froch (28(20)-1) of Nottingham, UK offered his opening statement. “I’m really looking forward to it. It has been a long journey. I will show that I’m the best Super Middleweight in the world. I’ll finish this journey as the champion.”

Andre Ward (24(13)-0) of Oakland, CA had the following statements after Froch had made his comments. “Hello to everyone. As always, a conference call lets me know that the fight is just around the corner. I have been training everyday and pushing my body hard. My coach is there to help me with my limits and to make sure that I don’t push myself too far. I can say that I feel fast, strong and explosive. This is the type of championship that you don’t win. You have to take it. Super Middleweight was a sleeper division in the past. Due to this tournament, everyone is talking about the group and it’s been huge. You have to give credit to the Fight Camp 360 series and Staredown. The visibility has been great, but at the same time, I’ve been doing my part to continue to get my hand raised fight after fight.”


Froch stated that the tournament had increased his visibility as well when he said, “This has been a great chance to showcase my talent to American TV. I’m being viewed by many people now and I became popular in America before I was so in England. Without this tournament, I wouldn’t have had the chance to fight (Andre) Dirrell, (Mikkel) Kessler and the others. So, it’s been great for myself and Andre.”

Ward reassured all on the line that the cut over his eye had sufficiently healed and would present no problems in the fight. When asked whether
or not the two month postponement of the bout had hindered his training camp, he replied, “It’s much more of a mental setback. Of course, it’s always a letdown especially once camp starts and we’re working hard. I know that physically you must be smart about it.”

In regard to the fight being rescheduled, Froch added, “We’ve worked around it, but it didn’t take long to get back into gear and get ready. For me, the main problem was for the fans who had bought tickets for the fight.”

There is a strong possibility that within the BWAA (Boxing Writers Association of America), the winner of the Super Middleweight tournament could get the nod for the prestigious “Fighter of the Year” award. Andre Ward and Carl Froch were both asked what it would mean to each of them should they win the distinction. Ward answered, “We’ve been grinding away in training for so many years. It’s all different in the gym when we’re away from the camera and all of the lights. Still, that would be an honor.” Although not quite as optimistic, Froch replied, “That would be great, but I don’t hold my breath for awards. Still, it would be fantastic for that to happen.”

Andre Ward is not known to be a talkative fighter outside of the ring. He was asked whether or not he felt this could lessen his popularity. He stressed the pride he felt in being a role model. “I’m not going to change for anyone. Many people come up to me to say thank you for carrying yourself in such a positive way. The legacy I leave through my efforts in the ring will be more important than anything I do outside of it. I wasn’t raised to be flashy”, Ward said. Each of the participants were then asked if they had any expectations for how the fight itself would progress. Carl Froch answered first and replied, “Styles make fights. Yes, I know that it’s an old cliche’, but honestly, it’s hard to watch fighters and try to guess how it
will go. I expect Ward will use his jab, but I can’t really tell anything beyond that. It should be a fantastic fight and I’m going to do everything I need to do. I’ll use my jab and my reach. It should be exciting.” Andre Ward promptly said, “If you watch me, then you know that I do a little bit of everything. We are prepared to do whatever is necessary. I am expecting a very physical fight because you have two individuals with a belt.” When asked if he had the power to seriously hurt Froch, Ward was short on words. “Absolutely”, he answered.

Froch and Ward were then asked if they could comment on how they may have changed
stylistically over the course of the tournament. Froch was initially seen as more of a brawler, while Ward was viewed as more of a boxer/puncher. Carl Froch beat then participant Jermain Taylor in an epic 12 round contest in April of 2009 and prevailed via TKO with less than 15 seconds left in the bout. As his matchups have progressed, Froch has become more visibly technical and he added, “Yes, that’s correct. I needed a big finish against Jermain Taylor and I certainly showed my skills. I know what I need to do and I’ll be doing the business on the (December) 17th.” Ward replied, “The different fighters and styles that I have faced has allowed me to evolve. There are things that I have been working on for years and now they showing up, especially versus “A” level guys. One dimensional fighters don’t last and they get figured out eventually.”

Ward’s trainer, Virgil Hunter left no confusion in the air when he offered his thoughts on the fight and Carl Froch. Hunter said, “Carl must set the record straight. He’s been hurt against his opponents. Yes, he can take a punch, but he needs to see that there’s more than one way of getting the man out than hitting him on the chin. Carl has grown in this tournament and I have him rated highly.” When Hunter was asked if he felt his fighter would stop Carl Froch, Hunter answered, “I believe he will and I’m not afraid to live with it if he doesn’t. I won’t be disappointed if he doesn’t. I give him (Froch) his chin, but there’s so many different areas to go to. The respect is there and that’s what makes a good rivalry. No matter what happens, Carl Froch will always have my respect.”

Somewhere around this time, Carl Froch was lost from the conference call and did not return. Ward’s promoter Dan Goossen commented on what he may have perceived as Froch’s less than thorough answers to the questions asked of him by the reporters on the line. “Carl was as quiet as a church mouse”, said Goossen.

The final press conference for the fight will be held next Tuesday, December 13 at 12:30ET at the Edison Ballroom in New York City.

December 6, 2011



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