Ward dominates Froch, wins Super Six Tournament

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Ward dominates Froch, wins Super Six Tournament

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.

UNDERCARD

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 rmaquinana@gmail.com, check out his blog at www.maqdown.com, or follow him on Twitter: @RMaq28.

Jazz will make series with Warriors harder than it looks

Jazz will make series with Warriors harder than it looks

So the Golden State Warriors don’t get a commuter series after all, and they get to play a team that plays as slow as they play fast, and they get to play at altitude – all things we will pretend matter greatly when this Western Conference semifinal series begins Tuesday night.

It won’t.

Well, let’s calm down a bit. It almost certainly won’t.

The Utah Jazz is not an easy out, not by a long shot. For one, they are not a mere shard of their former selves as the Clippers would have been. For two, they are pretty damned healthy as playoff basketball teams go. And for three, they are Memphis-funky, by which we mean like the Grizzlies, they pose conundrums unlike most teams that take awhile to break down and reassemble in a more digestible form.

On the other hand, they are not of Warrior quality, and though that seems frankly too smug by half, it is nonetheless true.

Now while the Golden States have their own issues – Steve Kerr’s head, Kevin Durant’s calf and Stephen Curry’s shoes – the Jazz are counterpunchers in the parlance. Not good enough to knock you out, but good enough to make you punch yourselves into exhaustion.

Golden State is 14-4 against the Jazz in the last five years, but it is the last year that counts most because this is the season in which the Jazz decided to attack the Warriors from beyond the three-point arc rather than the more traditional Rudy Gobert-Derrick Favors-low block route. Thus seems counterintuitive, especially when you consider that the one game Utah won, the 81st game of the season, they took 38 threes without Gordon Hayward playing, but head coach Quin Snyder has shown himself to be a more flexible coach than the one who collapsed at the college level.

But the way to understand the Jazz is not concern oneself with what they do but with what they will attempt to prevent the Warriors from doing. The Jazz ranks 2nd in threes allowed and percentage of those threes made, and they also rank a demonstrative last in pace.

So what we’re really talking about here, for those who want to get beneath the we’re-better-than-you-are nyah-nyah-nyah level, is whether Utah can make Golden State what it wants rather than the other way around. If Utah gets its way, the scores will be in the high-nineties, low-hundreds range, as they are 37-10 holding the opponent under 100 points (including the Clipper series), while the Warriors were held under 100 only six times.

Conversely, the Warriors held 29 teams under 100, and were 27-2 in those games, so the Warriors are actually more efficient than Utah even at a languid pace.

In other words, the Warriors are better at what Utah does than Utah is, which is probably why you will see and hear lots of smug this week and next among all non-Warrior employees. Barring injury, or Mike Brown quitting coaching and turning the job over to . . . well, actually the only name that might even pose a threat here is Quin Snyder . . . the Warriors have no business being extended beyond five games.

But that was the logic that fans took into last year’s Oklahoma City series, and the Memphis series before that. Not every series is 2016 Houston or 2015 New Orleans, and no titles are ordained, as anyone who watched the last five minutes of Game 7 last year an grumpily testify.

In other words, Utah will make this harder than it looks, even if it doesn’t end up looking that hard, if that makes any sense, which it actually doesn’t.

Just trust us on this. Utah lost 10 games by double digits this year. They fall reluctantly and with considerable rancor. But these are the Warriors, and ultimately, the chances are considerable to the point of prohibitive that they will indeed fall.

We think.

Prediction: Boredom only thing that will stop Warriors from sweeping Jazz

Prediction: Boredom only thing that will stop Warriors from sweeping Jazz

OAKLAND -- Though the Warriors marched through the first round of the playoffs, winning by an average of 18 points while sweeping Portland, the second round shapes up to be considerably more difficult.

The Utah Jazz are much deeper, play some of the best defense in the NBA and play their home games at altitude, which partially explains why only five teams posted better records at home.

That the Warriors won two of the three regular-season meetings is somewhat inconsequential. In two of those games, Utah was without All-Star forward Gordon Hayward and starting point guard George Hill. Power forward Derrick Favors missed all three games.

Regardless of the results of this series, there definitely will be a different look.

Here is our preview of the best-of-seven Western Conference semifinals series (first-round statistics in parenthesis):

MATCHUPS

POINT GUARD: Stephen Curry (29.8 points per game, 6.5 assists, 5.3 rebounds) vs. George Hill (16.9 ppg, 3.7 apg, 4.1 rpg): Hill’s availability was been crucial to the regular-season success of the Jazz; he missed 33 games. Utah was 15-1, however, when he scored at least 20 points. Curry may be the most dangerous scorer among all point guards, and he’ll be a load for Hill. EDGE: Curry.

SHOOTING GUARD: Klay Thompson (18.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg) vs. Joe Ingles (6.6 ppg, 4.0 apg, 3.9 rpg): Aside from a couple brief hot streaks, Thompson struggled with his shot in the first round. He’ll fix that, and he’ll torch Ingles (or Rodney Hood). Ingles is crafty inside but of most concern when he’s beyond the arc. He has little chance of producing offense with Thompson as the primary defender. EDGE: Thompson.

SMALL FORWARD: Kevin Durant (21.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 apg) vs. Gordon Hayward (23.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.9 apg): Two All-Stars, only one of which is headed for the Hall of Fame. The Jazz, quite simply, have no answer for Durant’s offensive arsenal. Their best hope is that he is assigned to Hayward and has to expend energy on defense. EDGE: Durant.

POWER FORWARD: Draymond Green (13.8 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 7.5 apg, 4.3 blocks per game) vs. Boris Diaw (6.0 ppg, 2.6 apg, 1.7 rpg): Oddly enough, Diaw, because of his bulk and passing ability, is one of the few players who can give Green fits. Diaw won’t score much, but Utah could play through him at times. Green will try to run the big man off the floor. EDGE: Green.

CENTER: Zaza Pachulia (6.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg) vs. Rudy Gobert (8.4 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg): Pachulia will need plenty of help from his bench, and he’ll get it. His role will be to free up scorers for shots coming off picks. Opportunities will be there, because Gobert tends to hunker down in the paint. He’s a terrific shot-blocker, but don’t be surprised if the Warriors test him inside. EDGE: Gobert.

SIXTH MAN: Andre Iguodala (7.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg), 4.5 apg) vs. Joe Johnson (15.7 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 3.0 apg): This is a fun matchup of wily veterans who rely on profoundly different styles. While Iguodala plays fast and is disruptive on defense, Johnson is deliberate and offensive-minded and is playing very well. Johnson also is among the game’s best clutch shooters. Iguodala finds more subtle ways to make an impact. EDGE: Even.

BENCHES: The Warriors are about as healthy as they have been at any time over the past two months, which means they are deep with players capable of producing. Matt Barnes is ready and Shaun Livingston is set to return no later than Game 2. The Warriors have considerable size, and they’ll need it. JaVale McGee and David West will come in handy against the likes of Favors, Diaw and Gobert. Both benches were effective in the first round. EDGE: Warriors, but it’s slight.

COACHING: With Steve Kerr out indefinitely, Mike Brown remains as acting head coach. He has plenty of postseason experience, as does veteran assistant Ron Adams. Jazz coach Quin Snyder did a tremendous job in the regular season when a slew of injuries could have knocked the team off course. He also is coming off his first playoff series victory as a head coach. EDGE: Warriors, due to experience.

ORACLE VS. VIVINT: Oracle Arena was massive for the Warriors in their first round, at times waking thunderous echoes of the “We Believe” experience in 2007. Vivint Smart Home Arena has a well-earned reputation for hurling loud insults at visiting players. The Utah crowd had better be careful, though, because the Warriors tend to thrive off crowd abuse. EDGE: Oracle.

PREDICTION: Warriors in four, five if they get bored.