Brave Froch outclassed by Ward as empire falls on icy Boardwalk
NO controversy this time, no recriminations, no protests, no excuses, no appeals . . . albeit no world titles, no Super Six Cup, no glory to apply a glittering finish to a gloomy year for British boxing.
Carl Froch fought his heart out here on Saturday night only to be left slipping and sliding on the frosty, famous Boardwalk as he chased but failed to catch the new whizzkid of United States boxing.
Andre Ward, the self-anointed Son Of God, was too fast and too clever for the Nottingham Cobra.
Outclassed: Froch was no match for Ward who lifted the Super Six title
Froch”s WBC world supermiddleweight title joined the WBA belt around the waist of the 27-year-old American who has come of age during the two years it took to reach this Super Six tournament final, and there could be no arguing with this decision.
Froch, proper fighting man that he is, admitted as much immediately. “I lost fair and square to the better boxer on the night,” he said.
That in itself was as refreshing as Froch”s fights are exciting. Win or occasionally lose, he gives his all and the first rush of tweets suggest that his honesty may have won him more admirers back home in Britain than all his preceding victories.
The British love nothing if not a gallant loser and Froch is never less than heroic, even when he is being outboxed.
That is why he was able to claw back some pride at the end of a lost cause, with a late if otherwise meaningless rally which should have answered the only minor quibble to nag at this fight.
Hard graft: Froch tried to drag Ward into a brawl with little success
Peculiarly, the one English judge gave victory to Ward by the widest points margin, 118-110. That coincided with the opinion of the majority in the hall and the view of the television commentators.
The other two, an American and a Canadian, scored it only 115-113 in the American”s favour. That gave some solace to Froch while raising eyebrows at how close we may have come to another deeply contentious verdict.
Ward was indeed dominant. Froch was especially vulnerable to his snappy left hook and unable to pin his man down, saying later: “He ducks, he slips, he slides. He is very good at it and very hard to hit. He is an exceptional defensive fighter.
“I never felt in the zone. He was either too close and smothering me or was dodging far out of range.”
Yet it was not difficult to argue the case for a decision less than totally lopsided. I gave it to Ward by 116 points to 112 – no small margin in a 12-round fight but still I have to explain why.
Yes, Ward was overwhelmingly in control early. He landed so many left hooks that you began to wonder if Froch could survive the distance. He could not cope with Ward”s speed and rarely saw coming that left hook, thrown off the jab.
Ward”s effectiveness with that punch made it all the more surprising that he said he had hurt that hand, first in sparring last week, then when hitting Froch on the top of the head in the sixth round.
When Froch tried to fight back he often found himself punching thin air.
But that chin is made of Polish iron and in the fifth Froch found a glimmer of light by edging his first round.
Game over: Froch was left to rue what could have been after Ward lifted the Super Six title (below)
The one-way traffic resumed in the sixth, seventh and eighth but then Froch”s phenomenal fitness forced him fully into the fight for the first time.
It had been my hope that the Cobra could strike late. So he did, but not venomously enough. Although, in my view, he took three of the last four rounds he still could not connect concussively with that fast-moving target.
He sought him here, he sought him there, he sought him everywhere, that elusive Californian. But he never really found him with one of his trademark bazookas and by then he needed a stoppage.
That was like trying to knock out a wisp of smoke and Froch only came close to unravelling that mystery once the fight was over to all intents and purposes.
Ward only had to ease through the concluding phase – which he did partially by holding as he tired somewhat – to win decisively.
The punch statistics, not always the most reliable barometer, tallied overwhelmingly in Ward”s favour.
But the discrepancy on the scorecards can be accounted for by the American skating most of his rounds by the length of the Boardwalk, while Froch won his narrowly.
Unanimous: Froch failed to land enough shots to claim the crown, but has already said he”d like a rematch
It was not as bad as it looked, though Froch conceded that it appeared a bad night for him.
Meanwhile, Ward, whatever the true scale of his victory, lived up to the American hype now acclaiming him as the future successor to Floyd Mayweather Jnr and Manny Pacquiao as boxing”s pound-for-pound king.
For Froch, with two fights against IBF world champion Lucian Bute set up next year in Montreal and then Nottingham, this is not so much the beginning of the end, rather the clarion call to a new beginning.
12 to two . . . how Britain”s champions tumbled
Britain”s world title fighters have had a nasty bout of travel sickness when boxing away from home. From 12 world title fights on foreign soil this year, only two have emerged as winners and both of those – Amir Khan and Carl Froch – have now lost their crowns. Here is the rundown (British fighters in bold):
Mar 5: WBC light-middleweight title – Matthew Hatton v Saul Alvarez (Mex). Lost on points in US.
Mar 19: IBF super-middleweight title – Brian Magee v Lucian Bute (Rom). Lost TKO in 10th in Canada.
June 4: WBC super-middleweight title – Carl Froch v Glen Johnson (Jam). Won on points in US.
June 18: WBC light-middleweight title – Ryan Rhodes v Saul Alvarez (Mex). Lost TKO in 12th in Mexico.
June 25: WBA middleweight title – Matthew Macklin v Felix Sturm (G). Lost on points in Germany.
July 2: IBF, WBA, WBO, IBO heavyweight titles – David Haye v Wladimir Klitschko (Ukr). Lost on points in Germany.
July 23: WBA, IBF light-welterweight titles – Amir Khan v Zab Judah (US). Won TKO in 5th in US.
Oct 1: WBC diamond middleweight title – Darren Barker v Sergio Martinez (Arg). Lost KO in 11th in US.
Dec 2: WBA middleweight title – Martin Murray v Felix Sturm (G). Draw in Germany.
Dec 3: WBA lightweight title – John Murray v Brandon Rios (US). Lost TKO in 11th in US.
Dec 10: WBA, IBF light-welterweight titles – Amir Khan v Lamont Peterson (US). Lost on points in US.
Dec 17: WBC, WBA super-middleweight titles – Carl Froch v Andre Ward (US). Lost on points in US.