Weekend Review: Ward continues to rise
Andre Ward: Ward isn’t in the class of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao – yet. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist is the pound-for-pound king of the near future, as he demonstrated again by shutting out Allan Green in the Super Six tournament on Saturday in Oakland, Calif. Ward doesn’t have a significant weakness, his apparent lack of one-punch knockout power being the only possible deficiency. He’s skillful, athletic, tough, smart and as well-conditioned as any fighter in the world. He fought extremely hard every second of a 12-round fight and didn’t seem to be tired at the end. He also has a secret weapon: unusual maturity, a trait that will help him climb to the top of the boxing world and stay there a while. I don’t use this word to describe many fighters but it applies to Ward: special.
Allan Green: The Oklahoman had a golden opportunity against Ward to show the world that he was more than just talk, that he was one of the best fighters alive. Instead, he was embarrassed by a far superior boxer for whom he seemed utterly unprepared. To make matters worse, he “explained” afterward that he had overtrained. That is both an insult Ward, whose performance was magnificent, and comes off to objective onlookers as a weak excuse. Even if it was true, even if he left all his energy in the gym, the proper thing to do is give your opponent full credit, learn from the experience and give a better performance the next time. Green certainly had a miserable night. Now it’s reasonable to question whether he was a worthy replacement for Jermain Taylor after all.
Ward vs. Dirrell: Ward will not do to Andre Dirrell on Sept. 25 what he has done to Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green. Dirrell, who lost a disputed decision to Carl Froch and beat Arthur Abraham by disqualification after outboxing the Armenian in the Super Six tournament, is too slick to be dominated for 12 solid rounds. His exceptional skills and athleticism will give anyone in the world at least some trouble, Ward included. The fight could end being fairly close. In the end, though, Ward will prevail again because of his all-around ability and Dirrell’s questionable toughness. Dirrell has truly dazzling ability but he seems to crack just a bit when things get particularly hot in the ring. I get the feeling that Ward is utterly unflappable.
EASIEST TO PREDICT
Other three Super Six semifinalists: Ward clinched a spot in the single-elimination semifinals of the 168-pound tournament with his victory over Allan Green. The other three spots are wide open. Here are the standings: Ward 4 points, Arthur Abraham 3 points, Dirrell, Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler 2 points, and Green no points. Here are the final first-round fights: Ward-Dirrell, Abraham-Froch and Kessler-Green. I think Ward, Abraham and Kessler outpoint their opponents, leaving them with six, five and four points and spots in the semis. I believe Froch would be the fourth qualifier because of his head-to-head victory over Dirrell. That means Ward would face Froch and Abraham would fight Kessler in the semis. Ward and Abraham will win those fights and then Ward will beat Abraham in the final.
Tarver becoming heavyweight: Antonio Tarver is 41. He was embarrassed in his two most-recent fights, one-sided decisions against Chad Dawson at light heavyweight. He has beaten only one good fighter since 2005, Clinton Woods. Clearly, he doesn’t have much left. So what does he do? He decides to fight as a heavyweight. The former five-time 175-pound titleholder probably can make good money against the giants because of his name, which is probably his prime motivation. And the division is weak enough for him to win a few fights. He’ll get beat up by a decent heavyweight, though, which no one wants to see. He’s developing into a fine television analyst. He might be advised to give up boxing and focus on his new career.
MOST MILEAGE OUT OF ONE KO
Hasim Rahman: No one would even know who Rahman is if he hadn’t gotten lucky and knocked out Lennox Lewis, who returned the favor when he was fully focused in their immediate rematch. Who has Rahman beaten besides Lewis? His most-impressive victory probably was over Corrie Sanders, who would go on to KO Wladimir Klitschko. None of his other victories stand out. Meanwhile, after receiving one big fight after the other, he’s lost to David Tua, Oleg Maskaev (twice), Evander Holyfield, John Ruiz and Klitschko. Now, at 37 and after returning from a one-year layoff, he wants one more shot at regaining a title. And because his name is Hasim Rahman, don’t be surprised if he gets it. Rahman stopped journeyman Shannon Miller in four rounds on Saturday.
Jerson Revelo: The Domincan-born super middleweight, who represented his native country in the 2000 Olympics, was a good amateur and a legitimate prospect after starting his pro career 13-0 (with nine knockouts). It was pretty much downhill from there. In his next fight, journeyman David Lopez handed him his first of five knockout losses. The last was on Friday, when unbeaten young Russian Maxim Vlasov blasted him out in three rounds. Revelo, 32, could probably continue to fight as a designated opponent for rising prospects but the manner in which he’s lost suggests he should walk away. Who knows how many more brutal knockouts he can endure? Let’s hope we don’t find out.
BEST BOUNCE BACK
Floyd Patterson: Ingemar Johansson stunned the boxing world – and Patterson – by knocking down the then-heavyweight champion seven times before stopping him in the third round of their legendary fight on June 26, 1959 in New York. The two met again on June 20, 1960 in the same city, 50 years ago on Sunday. This time, Patterson, his confidence apparently intact, turned the tables on the then-unbeaten Swede and scored a fifth-round knockout to become the first ever to regain the heavyweight title. Patterson would go on to stop Johansson again in the rubber match to win one of boxing’s most-compelling series. Both would ultimately land in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
Allan Green: “I had to stop running about three weeks ago because I was feeling so weak in training camp. I wasn’t feeling right, and I knew coming into this fight that I wasn’t feeling my best. Andre Ward showed me a lot of things that I know about, a lot of things I can deal with, but a lot of things I couldn’t react to because I was feeling extremely weak. I’m not trying to take anything away from him, that’s just how I felt.”
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]