The winner of the big June 4 bout at Boardwalk Hall between Carl “The Cobra” Froch and Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson will meet Andre Ward later this year.
ATLANTIC CITY — When cable TV's Showtime announced plans to put the Super Six World Boxing Classic Tournament together, optimism in the boxing world was abundant. Mainly because fans and fighters themselves would get a legitimately clearer picture of who in the sport — around the globe — definitely is the very best in their division. With the tournament, it was expected that the blurred picture of who some of fight game's best fighters are would become a reality instead of the rarity it has been in past years.
On June 4, the Adrian Phillips Ballroom at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City plays host to the closing semifinal of the Super Six Tournament, when Carl “The Cobra” Froch (27-1, 20 KOs) of Nottingham, England, takes on Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson (51-14-2, 35 KOs) of Miami, Fla., for Froch’s WBC Super Middleweight Championship. The winner of this huge fight for Atlantic City, will take on WBA Champion Andre “S.O.G” Ward (23-0, 13 KOs) of Oakland, Calif., later this year in the finals of the tournament.
A week or so before the big June 4 bout at Boardwalk Hall, I spoke with Andre Ward for his take on what he thinks will happen between Froch and Johnson in Atlantic City.
While interviewing the reigning WBA champ, he also takes off the gloves and gives me a glimpse of Andre Ward — the man.
I know you've received many congrats since you've advanced to the finals of Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic, but let me also add on to the kudos by giving you our congratulations here at Atlantic City Weekly.
Thank you Sir, I appreciate that.
Tournaments aren't everyday events when it comes to boxing. So when Showtime came up with the idea for one in the super middleweight division, what were your first thoughts?
Well, I was pessimistic initially because it sounded too good to be true. All these champions and big names, outside of me and [Andre] Dirrell, were going to be in this tournament, and it was hard to believe that all of the promoters had agreed to something like this. So when I initially started hearing rumblings about it through my team, they were giving me details as they were unfolding. Like I said, I was pessimistic about it and didn’t think it was going to go through, but slowly but surely it all just kept getting pieced together. It was when we went to Berlin and signed on and saw everyone else sign, that I realized it was the real deal and it was going down.
The tournament initially started out with six of the best fighters in the super middleweight division. Since that start the landscape has changed though, where as we've seen some drop out and then there have been additions. Luckily for some it's a round-robin event, because the ones who have lost have been able to stay in the tournament picture. You on the other hand have used the tournament as a coming-out party in a way, because those who ever doubted you before, now look at you as the man to beat. You've been the flawless fighter in the tournament. Tell us how it feels to be the standout.
Well in my mind, I’m right where I want to be, and where I always thought I would be. I think it’s a shock to a lot of people, but it’s not a shock to us, because we’ve always believed in ourselves — even when no one else believed in us. It’s the nature of the game, where you have to make them into believers, and that’s the bottom line. We’re where we thought we were going to be. We’re not shocked, surprised or overly excited that we made it. I mean we’re happy, but still realize there is work to do. God willing, when we win the finals, we still will realize that we will still have work to do. You know, we have always had that blue collar mentality, and I’m just glad that some have turned into believers. Of coarse, there will still be negative things written about you, but hey, that’s the nature of the sport. I just let it roll off my back and keep doing my job.
Out of all the participants, who did you see as being the last one standing with you in the finals?
I had no idea. I felt initially the most decorated and accomplished guy was Mikkel Kessler. The second guy was Arthur Abraham; and even though he wasn’t tested at 168lbs, he was a former middleweight champion with ten title defenses. That put him right up there with Mikkel Kessler. Carl Froch had already had a belt, so he was further along than Dirrell and I were. Jermain Taylor was coming off of a tough loss to Froch and I think he was put in there for name sake to spice things up.
I think me and Dirrell were two young guys with a lot of potential, but overall it was set up to more or less be a European showdown. We were put in to spice things up, but not make any noise. That’s the way I viewed everything when I got to Berlin and saw the way the media and everyone were responding to us. It looked like they thought it would be an eventual European showdown with Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham - or at least that was their original plan. In my mind I just felt like it was my job to wreck the party and not let that happen.
Well you’ve definitely done that. Atlantic City will host the other Super Six semi-final bout between Carl Froch and Glen Johnson on June 4 at Boardwalk Hall. The winner of the fight will meet you in the finals of the tournament. Can you break down their match up?
Yeah, I think it is a 50/50 fight. I say that because I wouldn’t be surprised if Carl Froch wins this fight going away and Glen Johnson all of a sudden becomes old. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Glen Johnson fought one of the best fights of his career and beats Carl Froch either. At the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if it went back and forth with ebbs and flows and the decision being up in the air after the final bell. I think anything can happen because both bring a lot to the table and both should be respected. Froch is a two time champ and Glen is a former champ as well, and there is respect on both sides. These guys know the finals are right there before them, so we’re just prepared to fight either guy and take care of business in September or October in the finals.
You're known to be more of a boxer, but throughout the tournament, you've also banged with the best of them. Carl Froch is probably opposite in the sense where he has been seen as more of a banger, but in his win over Arthur Abraham, he proved that he can box if need be. Since the tournament started, he's proven to have more dimensions. Johnson is the cagey veteran. Break down a fight with you against either of them.
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"My father raised me to always be confident, but always humble. I’m far from a pushover, and always firm, but there is no need to go around tooting your own horn for every little thing you do. I believe in the abilities God has blessed me with, and I believe I’m one of the fiercest competitors in the sport of boxing and that’s enough for me."
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