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Ward vs Abraham – Who R U Pickin’?

Scott Graveson

Scott watches countless hours of boxing each week. His specialty is Asian Boxing and he covers the Asian scene on both Ringnews24 and Asian Boxing. His articles are very insightful and anyone who doesn’t follow the Asian scene can keep up-to-date by reading his articles.

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The Super 6 tournament seemed like a genius idea at the end of 2009, it was going to force some of the best Super Middleweight boxers to face off we were going to find a guy who had beaten the top fighters ton become the divisions #1. Sadly as brilliant as the idea seemed we’ve had a host of problems which has completely taken the shine of the tournament, fighters pulling out, fighters being injured and 3 of the original 6 fighters being replaced. Despite all it’s problems the tournament comes to the fore once again this coming weekend when Andre Ward and Arthur Abraham face off in the first of two semi-final bouts.

Ward has been the tournament’s real success story so far having started the tournament by defeating Mikkel Kessler in a bout plagued by head clashes that caused an 11th technical decision in what was regarded at the time as real upset. Kessler had entered the tournament as one of the favourites and the loss to Ward was a clear one, Kessler never seemed to get going and Ward dominated just like he would do to Allan Green in his second bout. He’d made both men look very ordinary before out landing Sakio Bika in an dull battle that proved that Ward could mix it with the dirtiest fighters in the division.

Although best known for winning an Olympic gold medal Ward has managed to be compared to the likes of Sugar Ray Leonard and Roy Jones Jr by the over-enthusiastic Showtime commentators. More level headed outsiders have compared him to Bernard Hopkins, giving Ward credit for knowing how to fight, how to get away with the dirty tricks and more importantly how to take advantage of situations. He has shown he can box, he can battle and although he’s not been overly aggressive or hard hitting he can hurt opponents. Now with a record of 23-0 (13) he seems to only have a handful of flaws in terms of his fighting the lack of power being one and possible issues with his chin being another, though neither has cost him so far and the current WBA Super Middleweight champion does look like the real deal. Though the big complain about Ward in regards to the Super 6 has been that he has been given a number of fights in and around his home town, the other fighters have all had to travel into a foreign country at some point whilst Ward hasn’t.

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In Arthur Abraham we have the tournaments real flop. Abraham had entered the competition as one of the favourites, a feared puncher from Germany who had been a long reigning IBF Middleweight champion and had been proven to be tough as well as hard hitting. In his opening bout of the tournament he scored one of the best knockouts of 2009 as he ended the career of Jermain Taylor, the hopes of him winning the tournament had been boosted especially with the loss by Kessler. Since beating Taylor, who was showing signs of having had too many hard fights anyway, Abraham has looked a level below many of the other Super 6 fighters. Andre Dirrell, a good friend of Ward, made Abraham look slow, silly and wild in bout Abraham would eventually be disqualified in after landing a hard blow on a downed Dirrell. Carl Froch made Abraham look a million miles away from world class in a bout that could only be described as “one-sided” Abraham was again made to look slow, silly and completely inept.

Style wise Abraham is like many other German based fighters who rely on a strong defence and landing hard clean counter blows to make up for a lack of speed. Technically he’s solid and defensively he’s very strong, in fact it’s the strength of Abraham that makes him so dangerous, he hits thunderously and when he lands fighters tend to know about it, even his jab hurts. Problem is that he doesn’t throw enough and fighters like Froch and Dirrell can move around the turtle like defence to land a number of punches and get out of range before Abraham attacks back. The tough defence does cause problems, he is always coming forward and putting opponents under pressure, making them work and tire themselves out. If he faces guys, like Froch, who have the ability to do 12 rounds at a decent pace the pressure doesn’t seem to quite have the desired effect. What Abraham seems to be to do well is explode into flurries unexpectedly, these can be really dangerous when he does it though they have become rarer in recent year. Since starting his career with a 30-0 (24) record prior to the Super 6 he has fallen to 32-2 (26) and now sees his career at the top effectively hanging by the balance against Ward, a loss will send him packing back to Germany to rebuild his career.

Ward goes into the bout as a heavy betting favourite, he has been impressive and is fighting in California, where he is comfortable whilst Abraham’s record in America is 1-1 and he is 1-2 in his last 3 bouts worldwide. Ward also has most of the skill advantages, he’s faster, he throws more and he’s full of confidence he’s also the naturally bigger man and he’s younger, whilst Abraham’s key advantage is his power, if he can land clean on Ward the popular view is that he will hurt Ward. Abraham’s pressure will cause Ward to work though Ward could use it to his advantage and actually stand up close to Abraham rather than keep it at a distance. Whilst Abraham is on paper the stronger man it’d be his straight punches that would be the danger shots and if Ward can keep the action close he can out work Abraham and stop him from getting his power behind shots.

Aside from Abraham landing a KO blow I can’t really see how he can win the bout, he can’t match the work rate of Ward and although Ward is selective with his punches he’ll still land and throw more than Abraham. Abraham’s pressure even at it’s most intense isn’t likely to wear Ward down due to Ward’s own selective out punch and due to Abraham’s trademark slow starts he’ll almost certainly be 36-40 down on all the cards before he even gets going. Ward by decision seems to be where the smart money goes here.

Here are ringnews24’s writers opinions and predictions on Ward vs Abraham:

Ryan McHugh

I really can’t see anything past a Ward decision in this fight. Technically Ward is far too good for a slugger like Abraham, who lets remember, isn’t even in his ideal weight class on top of that. Arthur has the power to trouble Ward, but that’s if he can land anything of note! Carl Froch drew out the blueprints for how to beat Abraham, and to a technical boxer like Ward who thrives off of an opponent with little movement, i don’t think there’ll be any problems posed preventing him from following suit. Ward by wide UD.

Jeff Meyers

Look for a repeat of Ward v. Kessler. Andre Ward has stepped up every time he advances to a higher level of competition. I envision Ward confusing Abraham — a notoriously slow starter — and beating him up the same way Ward did to Kessler and the same way Carl Froch dispatched of Abraham. Unless King Arthur gets lucky with a late knockdown Ward will cruise to an easy decision or perhaps even a late-round stoppage.

Joel Sebastianelli

Saturday night’s Super Six World Boxing Classic semi-final between Andre Ward and Arthur Abraham holds ramifications beyond the Home Depot Center ring. For Ward, a win means “S.O.G” could lead the list of boxing’s brightest young stars, but Saturday night may be the aging Abraham’s last shot at a title.
Abraham is typically a slow starter, but he cannot afford to fall behind on the scorecards against Ward. Expect some early aggression from Abraham in an attempt to garner some insurance rounds early on. However, the poise under pressure of Ward, coupled with his calculated approach both defensively and offensively, will eventually frustrate Abraham. When Abraham is faced with adversity, as was the case against Andre Dirrell and Carl Froch, he loses concentration and eventually loses the fight. Andre Ward’s blend of speed and elusiveness should be enough to overwhelm the former German champion and vault Ward to the Super Six Finals by unanimous decision.

Chris Milton

I may be among the few here but I believe this could actually be a 50-50 fight. The blueprint for defeating Abraham has been clearly laid out by both Froch and Dirrel. However Ward does no have the foot speed of Dirrel and he does not have the reach or the jab of Froch.

Ward likes to work on the inside and this will suit Abraham as he can let go with his hooks and uppercuts, Abraham is the puncher in this fight make no mistake, if Ward does indeed try to work the inside he is playing right into Abrahams hands.

Personally I go with Ward in a highly controversial decision possibly a split.

Lee Skavydis

I think Arthur Abraham is on the way down at this point. I think it’s clear that he cannot compete at super-middleweight effectively, especially against boxers who resort to using their technical skills rather than slugging it out. Just look at the Dirrell and Froch fights! Abraham got a good knockout win over Jermain Taylor, but that was a well worn and beaten version of that man. Andre Ward is on the up. He’s shown he can adapt. Despite what people say about the Kessler fight, he battered him and probably would have won, even without butts coming into the equation. He fought on the inside against Allan Green to prove he isn’t just someone who is a one trick pony, and he outclassed the tough Sakio Bika. I think Ward gets a stoppage, possibly around the 8th, with Abraham not being able to do much of anything in a one sided fight.

Joe Mitchell

I think the time has come for Wards chin to crack, he is way better than Abraham technically but I see Abraham catching Ward with something big within 12 rounds, Abraham by TKO in the 10th.

Ian Ritchie

It’s difficult to look beyond anything but a Ward wide UD in this one, regardless of how the fight pans out.
He remarkably has the hometown venue yet again, almost had the hometown judges and ref as well, were it not to jeopardise the whole fight.
I’m not being sceptical, when I say he’s been gifted opportunities that noone else in the tournament have been able to come by.
Abraham has definitely got it in him to beat Ward, but I think he needs to do it by KO, and he’s yet to display the power he had at 160lbs up at Super Middleweight.
I’m not sure if his power has carried up to bigger and better calibre opposition.
Ward is one for rough-housing in fights though, and that may be exactly the type of fight Abraham need to get dragged into to have any chance of pulling off what would be a huge upset, against the guy who is probably now favourite for the Super 6.

Rob Day

Ward is the favourite going in and I see him him boxing his way to a decision. However, if he brawls like he often tends to, then he is putting himself at risk of getting tagged by one of Abraham’s big countershots. Seems strange that Abraham entered this tourney as a favourite but is now regarded as an also-ran. Ward UD.

So, Who R U Pickin’?


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