Sunday, May 15, 2011

Notes from Ward-Abraham

·      Three rounds showcased Andre Ward’s dominance last night.  In the 4th round, Ward initiated his crisp combination punching, often starting flurries with his left hook or his lead right hand.  He also jabbed and threw straight right hands to the head and the body.  Up until that point, he had been tentative.  After round 4, the fight swung in his favor.  In round 7, Ward unleashed the uppercut.  That punch had been there for him all night.  Throwing both the left and right uppercut, Abraham could not defend the punch.  In the 10th round, Ward switched to southpaw and rocked Abraham with straight left hands to the head and body as well as short, right hooks.  After the round, Abraham’s trainer felt he needed to cajole his charge so that his fighter would finish the remainder of the fight.

·      I scored the fight 117-111 or 9 rounds to 3 for Ward.  Arthur Abraham had a number of good moments in the first three rounds.  Abraham started the fight aggressively, which confused Ward.  He landed some stinging lead left hooks and the occasional looping right hand.  His traditional punches (jab, straight right hand) didn’t have much success against Ward as the fight progressed.

·      Ward looked very comfortable in the physical middle rounds.  He can in-fight well and like a good veteran, knows how to tie-up inside.  He now throws some quasi-legal punches on the break and during clinches.  Ward's veteran savvy often belies his age.  Those tricks will come in handy throughout his career.  Fighters will be less inclined to fight on the inside against Ward when they have to defend themselves against kidney shots or rabbit punches.  It seems that Ward has studied Bernard Hopkins' use of boxing's dark arts.   

·      After the third round, Ward’s defense was sensational.  Arthur is a very difficult fighter to defense, but Ward figured out how to stay in the pocket while not put himself in imminent danger.  With the exception of three left hooks in the 12th round, I don’t think that Ward got hit with anything hard for several of the middle and late rounds.

·      Arthur did put forth a much more spirited effort against Andre Ward than he did against Carl Froch.  Perhaps if last night’s Abraham showed up against Froch, their fight might have been much more competitive.  Unfortunately, Abraham is too undisciplined with his attack.  He leaves his opponents with numerous opportunities to counter.  Similar to his previous fights, Abraham still does not fight for 12 rounds.

·      Two of Ward’s great attributes are his consistency and focus.  A professional Ward shows up every time.  Some fights he has looked better than he has in others, but he has yet to have a true "off-night."  Unlike many young fighters, he has not taken shortcuts in the gym and comes to each fight prepared to win with multiple game plans.  Ward also fights for three minutes of every round.  This enables him to pile up points even when he is not dominating his opposition.  Again, these dimensions speak to his conditioning and his understanding of how he has to win fights.  In addition, he has won wide decisions against rough fighters such as Sakio Bika and Arthur Abraham by not making silly mistakes or losing his concentration.  These were tough, physical fights and yet he prevailed handily.

·      It seems to me that the Abraham had his best success in the fight when he was landing with awkward shots from odd angles.  Ward defenses traditional boxing shots quite well.  Carl Froch, with his hesitations, hitches and looping punches, may be just the fighter who can give Ward some real trouble.  I don’t know if Froch has the consistent work rate needed to out-point Ward, but his idiosyncratic offensive attack may give Ward some significant difficulties.

·      Conversely, I think if Ward decides to switch to southpaw for meaningful stretches against Froch, that Froch would have some real struggles.  The potential Ward-Froch fight provides interesting strategic and tactical options for both boxers.  It would be a fun fight.

·      Ward turned in a very solid performance.  I’d give if an “A,” but not an “A+.”  Ward eventually worked his way into the fight but he didn’t throw combinations in the first three rounds.  I still think he was too tentative with his uppercut.  After establishing it in the 7th round, he didn’t throw it consistently throughout the rest of the fight.  However, these are minor items to address; overall, it was good showing.  Ward will be tough to beat.  He continues to grow before our eyes as the Super Six World Boxing Classic unfolds.

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