Froch, Ward set to feud for Super Six belt at last

Two years have passed since Showtime began its ”Super Six

Boxing World Boxing Classic” in an effort to find the top

super-middleweight boxer.

There were some obstacles along the way. Some contenders, such

as IBF champion Lucian Bute, opted not to participate. Injuries

forced Jermain Taylor and Mikkel Kessler to withdraw during the

round-robin tournament. And Andre Ward suffered a cut while

sparring and had to postpone the final bout for nearly two


But the search for the best 168-pounder will finally end

Saturday at Boardwalk Hall, when Ward (24-0, 13 KOs), of Oakland,

Calif., puts his WBA title on the line against WBC champion Carl

Froch (28-1, 20 KOs), of Nottingham, England, in one of the most

anticipated fights of the year.

”Have there been problems? Sure,” Ward’s promoter, Dan Goossen

said. ”But for Showtime to be able to get past the politics of

boxing, promoters’ egos and everything else to keep this tournament

together, has been quite an accomplishment. It was a brilliant

concept and when the bell rings on Saturday night, people are going

to enjoy an outstanding, exciting fight.”

Both Froch and Ward fought their way through top competition to

earn their spots in the final.

Froch, 34, went 4-1 in the previous rounds of the tournament. He

opened with a 12-round decision over Andre Dirrell on Oct. 17,

2009, then rebounded from the first loss of his career – a 12-round

decision to Kessler on April, 24, 2010 – with decision victories

over Arthur Abraham and Glen Johnson, respectively.

Froch has never backed away from a challenge. His last 18

opponents sported a combined record of 449-63-12 at the time he

fought them.

”I’ve come up the hard way, but I’m finally starting to get the

recognition and credit I deserve,” Froch said. ”People are

counting on me to restore pride in British boxing.”

British boxing fans have been searching for a hero since former

champions Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton retired.

Heavyweight David Haye lost a lot of support with a listless

performance against champion Wladimir Klitschko last July.

Middleweight prospect Darren Barker, who suffered an 11th-round

knockout loss to Sergio Martinez at Boardwalk Hall two months ago,

has yet to record a signature victory. Former super-welterweight

champ Amir Khan suffered a split decision loss to Lamont Peterson

last week.

”The problem is that every UK boxer talks a great fight, but

they’ve seldom delivered,” Froch’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, said.

”You know what you’re going to get with Carl Froch. I’m expecting

an impressive performance from Carl on Saturday night. I want him

to beat Ward in devastating fashion.”

That figures to be a daunting task.

Ward, 27, hasn’t lost as an amateur or a professional since he

was 14. He capped an outstanding amateur career by winning a gold

medal for the U.S. in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece

and has since dominated his competition in the pros.

He entered the Super Six tourney as an underdog to the more

experienced Abraham, Froch and Kessler, but is favored to win after

posting an 11th-round TKO over Kessler, then posting decisions over

Allen Green, Sakio Bika and Abraham.

”You’re going to have two hungry fighters in the ring, two

fighters who don’t want to lose,” Ward said. ”I know I’ll bring

it and I believe (Froch) will bring it. This has been a long time

coming and I’m ready.”