Ward dominates Abraham, moves to Super 6 final

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Ward dominates Abraham, moves to Super 6 final

May 14, 2011

(AP) CARSON -- Andre Ward felt like the road team in his home state when he walked to the open-air ring amid a chorus of boos while hundreds of Armenians waved red-blue-and-orange flags.Ward took the abuse and smiled. Arthur Abraham would have needed a white flag to stop Ward from steamrolling him on the way to the Super Six tournament final.Ward overwhelmed Abraham with power and speed in nearly every round of an unanimous decision victory Saturday night, defending his WBA super middleweight title in the Super Six semifinals. Ward (24-0, 13 KOs), the Olympic gold medalist from Oakland, Calif., put on another clinic in patient, tactical boxing while dismantling Abraham (32-3), the Armenian-born German who had a perfect record until losing three straight in the Super Six.The Los Angeles area's sizable Armenian population turned out in force for Abraham, but Ward had answers for all of them."We're going to the final, baby," Ward said. "Arthur is strong, and he's a hard hitter, (but) we showed that we can win in a way other than our original game plan."Ward is one fight away from the tournament title that should establish him as the 168-pound division's top fighter. England's Carl Froch is favored to beat Glen Johnson in the other Super Six semifinal bout in Atlantic City, N.J., on June 4, and the final is expected this fall.Ward felt even less at home when the referee wouldn't allow him to fight Abraham on the inside, repeatedly breaking up the fighters when the action got close. After Abraham managed a few lively exchanges during the early rounds, Ward took control with an excess of speed and precision, peppering Abraham with jabs and combinations.Abraham largely stopped throwing good punches when he realized he was hopelessly overmatched at Home Depot Center, just south of Los Angeles."I wish the ref had let me fight on the inside, because that's what I had planned for," Ward said. "But we made adjustments and got the win. ... I'm going to stay humble. I'm going to keep working hard. I want to be a champion for a long time and take the least amount of punishment possible."Judge Stanley Christodoulou scored it a 120-108 shutout for Ward, while German judge Ingo Barrabas and The Associated Press favored Ward 118-110. Dr. James Jen Kin gave it to Ward 118-111.Ward still hasn't lost since he was a 12-year-old amateur. The Bay Area fighter starred in Athens, winning the only U.S. boxing gold in the past three Olympics.Abraham had the fans' backing in just his third U.S. appearance. Hundreds of rowdy fans jeered Ward and chanted "Ar-Tur! Ar-Tur!", but Ward quickly quieted the crowd with another clinical display of his superior technical skill."I started well, and I thought I did good the first three rounds," Abraham said through a translator. "He didn't hit me, and I was blocking a lot of his shots. But then I tried for the knockout, and I couldn't do it. I cramped up, and I got too tense."Ward used his jab aggressively in the opening rounds, but Abraham showed more aggression than in his previous two bouts, even rattling Ward with a right hand behind his ear in the third round.Ward weathered those attacks and took charge. He never came close to stopping Abraham, but he battered Abraham into the ropes with an overhand right in the final minute of the 12th round.Ward threw 289 jabs over 12 rounds, landing 178 of his 444 total punches. Abraham got credit for more power punches and landed a similar percentage of total punches, but Ward landed all the blows that counted.Ward emerged as an elite pound-for-pound fighter while dominating the group stage of this now-ramshackle tournament matching the world's top 168-pounders outside of Canada's Lucian Bute, the likely challenger for the Super Six winner.Although injuries led to the withdrawal of half the original field, Ward earned one-sided victories over Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green to reach the semifinals against Abraham, who advanced despite losing twice.The Super Six hasn't worked out well for Abraham, an unbeaten middleweight champion and presumptive tourney co-favorite when it began.After knocking out Jermain Taylor in his first bout, he received his first career defeat when he was disqualified late in a fight he was losing to Andre Dirrell. Abraham then was trounced by Froch in his last bout, thoroughly unable to keep up with the English star.Earlier at the Home Depot Center, slimmed-down heavyweight contender Chris Arreola stopped Nagy Aguilera in the third round in an impressive performance. Arreola, who lost his title shot against Vitali Klitschko in September 2009, dedicated himself to conditioning before beating Aguilera, who lost when he couldn't defend himself on the ropes.

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

A's spring training Day 8: Top pick AJ Puk attracts a crowd

MESA, Ariz. — The A’s are excited about 2016 top pick A.J. Puk, that much was apparent by the crowd the lefty attracted for his first “live” bullpen session Tuesday.

Among those watching closely were executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane, general manager David Forst, manager Bob Melvin and pitching coach Curt Young.

Puk, who shaved about 20 pounds off his 6-foot-7 frame over the winter, looked strong against a group of hitters that included touted infield prospects Franklin Barreto and Yairo Munoz.

Melvin in particular liked the way Puk, the No. 6 overall pick out of the University of Florida, worked his curve ball into the mix. That’s a pitch he hadn’t used since high school, but he dusted it off back in the fall instructional league with some encouragement from minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson, and he’s working to sharpen it this spring as a complement to his fastball, slider and changeup.

“It’s just nice to have another pitch that’s slower than my other three pitches,” Puk said before Tuesday’s workout.

“It’s a four-pitch mix,” Melvin said. “He’s really starting to distinguish between this slider and curve ball. It was quite a crowd around his cage too. When you’re a young kid you tend to notice that, but I thought he responded really well.”

Puk, 21, is rooming with shortstop Richie Martin, a teammate at Florida whom the A’s made their top pick in 2015. They also lived near each other in Tampa this offseason and worked out together.

Puk comes off very quiet upon meeting him, but Martin warns against being fooled.

“It takes him a while, but once he feels comfortable he’ll break out. You’ll see.”

Melvin was impressed with Puk’s physical shape, saying he’s fielded his position well in pitchers’ fielding drills.

CAMP BATTLE Jesse Hahn will start the A’s Cactus League opener Saturday against the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs. It’ll be a chance for Hahn to make an early impression in his bid for the fifth starter spot.

“After the year he had (in 2016), it’s important for him this year. We have to show some faith in him,” Melvin said. “He performed well for us the year before. Last year wasn’t really consistent. We’ll try to get him out there and get him off to a good start.”

Kendall Graveman will take the ball in Sunday’s spring home opener against the Angels. Sonny Gray and Sean Manaea both will pitch Monday against the Giants and Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs will be among the group throwing Tuesday against the Indians.

PROSPECT WATCH: Sean Murphy, the A’s third-round pick in June, has shown a very strong throwing arm early in camp. Is it any wonder Melvin, an ex-catcher, was impressed?

“The kid can throw, it’s special,” Melvin said. “We really like him.”

NOTEWORTHY: Still no word on when reliever Santiago Casilla will arrive at camp from the Dominican Republic. Melvin said he isn’t concerned at this stage, and noted that Casilla has been working out at the team’s complex in the Dominican Republic and gave a motivational talk to the younger players there.

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

Cousins thanks Sacramento: 'Wouldn't trade it for anything'

The Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday, prompting the All-Star big man to post a heartfelt message on his Instagram account.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. 
#LoyaltyisLove #sactownkingforever

Cousins, 26, averaged 27.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 1.4 steals, 1.3 blocks and 34.4 minutes per game for the Kings this year.

Words can't even express how hard it is for me to have to leave the city of Sacramento and all of the amazing people that I have met while out here. I gave it my all for you and you gave it right back. The most amazing fans on the planet and I just want you to know that your support has meant everything to me. It's hard to believe that it was seven years ago that this young kid from Alabama showed up in Sacramento scared and not knowing a soul. As I look back upon my time here, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met so many amazing people, many of whom went out of their way to make me feel right at home from day one. Each and every one of you have played such an important part in my life and helping me become the person I am today. I don't just consider you all as fans, you all are my family...and a couple thousand miles aren't going to change a thing. Thank you Sacramento. #LoyaltyisLove

A post shared by DeMarcus Cousins (@boogiecousins) on