ATLANTIC CITY, NJ WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward declared that the winner of his Super Six final with Carl Froch would earn the distinction of worlds best 168-pounder.
Now Oaklands native son has the hardware to prove it after annexing the WBC and Ring Magazine world titles along with the tournament cup after defeating Froch by unanimous decision.
Judges John Stewart of New Jersey and Craig Metcalfe of Canada had it 115-113 for Ward, while John Keane of the U.K. saw it 118-110 for the new king.
It was a tough fight, strong fight, Ward said. I hurt my left hand during training and I couldnt say anything about it.
Ward later admitted he re-aggravated the injury midway through the fight.
I hit him on top of the head in the sixth round, but we fought through it, Ward added. Id like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I had a supernatural run through the Olympics, and for me coming into this tournament as a young pup was supernatural as well.
We told you this was what we wanted to do. We wanted to fight on the inside and the outside and we pulled it off tonight. We were able to beat him to the punch, and thats what won us the fight.
Froch was gracious in defeat.
He was very tricky. He was slick and elusive and did a good job of keeping himself out of harms way. It was quite hard to hit him. The name of the game is to not get hit and he did that well.
Ward (25-0, 13 KOs) likely looks ahead to a fight with either IBF champ Lucian Bute of Canada or the winner between WBO champ Robert Stieglitz of Germany and Denmarks Mikkel Kessler, the man Ward initially dethroned for his WBA belt back in 2009.
ANDRE WARD UD12 CARL FROCH
Following a close first round where both fighters employed a cautious pace, Ward began to assert himself with a left hook that scored twice in the opening minute of the second stanza. Froch worked the body, but Ward pressed the action, including another snapping left hook that drilled the Englishman on the inside.
The third frame began with Froch scoring off a left hook as the two exchanged blows. Ward then returned the favor with a counter right hand over the top. Froch landed a jab that caught Wards attention. Both fighters now showed signs of letting their hands go, with Wards defense emerging as he blocked a Froch left hook to end the round.
In the fourth, Ward wowed the crowd with a double jab followed by an overhand right that found its target. Following a lengthy clinch, Ward took Froch to the ropes and tried to exert his dominance. Now Froch turned him and took him to the center of the ring, where he ripped a couple left hooks to Wards midsection. However, Ward shook up the blows and continued to come forward, punctuating the round with a big left hook off a clinch that Froch would surely remember as he walked back to his corner.
Ward started the fifth by jabbing to the body. He then called on his left hook, and it landed cleanly on Frochs chin. Froch went to his left jab in order to set up some offense, but he had problems trying to find an opening. Ward threw a four-punch combination to the body and finished upstairs. At this point in the bout, Froch was searching for answers but had yet to find any.
The sixth began with a clinch, which Ward ended with an overhand right. Froch continued to throw his jab in an effort to set up his power shots, but Ward would evade them, and the Oakland fighters counter left hook would go unblocked. Froch partially landed a one-two and turned it over with a right hand but Ward answered with a monster left hook that momentarily shook Froch and had him backing up into the ropes. Ward ducked under three more punches from Froch to end the round, one that seemingly had the Bay Area champion ahead in a shutout.
Froch got off his stool in the seventh with a new resolve, and came at Ward with a barrage of punches, with a looping right and left hook standing out. However, Ward was not deterred and came right back at his foe, landing a lead left hook flush to Frochs temple. Ward, now using his head movement more than his gloves to block shots, now stood in front of Froch, slipping the Englishmans volleys and retaliating with two or three of his own. Toward the end of the frame, the two clinched once more, with Ward s head coming into contact with Frochs.
In the eighth stanza, the pace remained one that suited Ward, and Froch, perhaps in desperation, threw a backhanded punch at his foe. After referee Steve Smoger warned him of the potential infraction, the fight returned to his usual pattern, with Ward outfoxing the game Froch on the inside with left hooks and short right hands. Froch had a couple moments in the round with some looping punches, but those scoring chances were few and far between. Right after the bell, Froch connected with a right hand
Round nine was almost a carbon copy of the eighth until a semi-fight broke out in the last two minutes. The combatants returned to the center of the ring and both scored with power shots, namely a looping right from Froch. In the last minute of the frame, Ward switched to southpaw, but it was relatively ineffective, and if there were a round to give to Froch, it might have been this one.
Both men seemingly took a breather in the 10th. Ward continued to dodge Frochs attacks and score off the counter, but the Englishman came on in the last minute with some good body work.
The 11th was not the most aesthetically pleasing, as both fighters resorted to rough tactics. Ward switched to southpaw and Froch took advantage of the backpedaling Bay Area fighter, coming forward and pressuring him. This frame was another that could have gone Frochs way, as he was the more effective aggressor.
At this point, one wondered if Ward would cruise to the decision or opt to close the show in style; it would be the former. While Ward initially attempted to turn his punches over with a bit more gusto, he would eventually play it safe as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Being in the precarious position of needing a knockout to win, Froch attempted to turn the heat on Ward one final time. But pushing him into the ropes would prove a futile tactic, and again, Frochs blows would mostly find Wards arms and gloves. Froch got a lead right hand through Wards guard, but as the story was throughout the fight, he could not follow it up with something substantial to make Ward relinquish his world title.
KELL BROOK TKO5 LUIS GALARZA
In what was dubbed the semi-main event, British welterweight sensation Kell Brook (26-0, 18 KOs) continued his ascent up the 147-pound rankings with a fifth-round technical knockout of Luis Galarza (18-3 14 KOs) of Antioch, TN. Making his debut on American soil, Brook showed a variety of skills. Early on, he counterpunched with a right hand over the top when Galarza overreached with the one-two. Once he had taken control of the bout, Brook went on the offensive, blistering his opponent with a left hook and right hand with Galarza on the ropes to effect the stoppage from referee Alan Huggins. Official time of the stoppage was 1:38.
CORNELIUS WHITE UD6 YORDANIS DESPAIGNE
A six-round battle of light heavyweight prospects was captured by Houstons Cornelius White (18-1, 15 KOs), who got the better of his exchanges with Florida-based Cuban Yordanis Despaigne (9-2, 4 KOs) in a unanimous decision. Both fighters drew blood; White had a gash over his left eye and Despaigne on his scalp. Whites body work and slightly more accurate hands were the difference. Scores were 60-53 and 59-55 twice.
EDISON MIRANDA TKO5 KARIZ KARIUKI
Former world title challenger and Andre Ward nemesis Edison Miranda (35-6, 30 KOs) of Buenaventura, Colombia, scored a fifth-round technical knockout of Tampa Bay native Kariz Kariuki (24-10-2, 19 KOs). Miranda, who took a lopsided points defeat against Ward in May 2009, was ascending one weight class to light heavyweight. A counter left hand floored Kariuki in the fifth, causing him to lose his mouthpiece. However, referee Alan Huggins did not call time out, and Miranda approached Kariuki and decked him again. But Huggins ruled it a slip, and Miranda continued to slug away until the bout was called off at 2:15.
JOHN LENNOX TKO3 JEREMIAH WITHERSPOON
The first of two swing bouts was a free-swinging affair as John Lennox (8-1, 4 KOs) of Carteret, NJ, brutally knocked out Jeremiah Witherspoon (2-2, 1 KO) of Trenton, NJ, in the third round. After a first two rounds where both combatants had their moments, the fight ended in a chilling manner, as an avalanche of shots from Lennox hurt Witherspoon and left him vulnerable in reversal. Lennox immediately went for the coup de grace, and referee Randy Neumann seemed to have intervened around three punches too late, as Witherspoon lay prone on the canvas for a few minutes before getting to his feet and exiting the ring. Official time was 0:50.
BOWIE TUPOU UD10 DONNELL HOLMES
In the opening bout, heavyweight Bowie Tupou (22-1, 16 KOs) of Los Angeles outlasted Donnell Holmes (33-2-2, 29 KOs) of Ivanhoe, NC, in a ten-round unanimous decision. A chopping right hand from Tupou put his foe down in the seventh, but had to weather a final rush from Holmes. Scores were 95-94 twice and 96-93 for Tupou.
Boyd Melson and Daniel Lugo had yet to fight via press time.
Boxing correspondent Ryan Maquiana is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and Ring Magazines Ratings Panel. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out his blog at www.maqdown.com, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.