In anticipation of one of the most significant fights in the history of the Super Middleweight Division, Super Six World Boxing Classic Finalists Andre Ward and Carl Froch held a media conference call to discuss the Super Six World Boxing Classic Final, a World Championship Unification, live on SHOWTIME®, Saturday, Dec. 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast) from the historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
After a two-year, grueling journey, Ward, America’s last Olympic Gold Medalist and World Boxing Association (WBA) champion, will face World Boxing Council (WBC) champ and British superstar Froch in the tournament Final to determine the world’s best 168-pound fighter.
The winner of the high stakes matchup will claim both world championship belts, the vacant The Ring magazine championship and the inaugural Super Six World Boxing Classic Cup.
The fighters, their trainers and promoters will take part in the final press conference nextTuesday at the Edison Ballroom in New York City beginning with lunch at 11 a.m. and the press conference to follow at 12:30 p.m. A complete fight-week media schedule will be distributed in the coming days.
Here’s what the fighters and promoters had to say on Tuesday:
“I always look forward to the conference calls because it lets me know this fight is right around the corner. I know for me personally I’ve done everything I need to do to prepare for a huge fight like this. Mentally, physically I’m pushing my body to the limit where only my coach knows when to pull me back. Because if it was left up to me I’d continue to just grind, grind, and grind. We’ve done everything we’re supposed to do. I’m physically fit, mentally fit. I feel fast, I feel strong, I feel explosive.”
What has the Super Six done for your popularity and visibility?
“I think before the Super Six the super middleweights were really a sleeper division. They looked right over the super middleweight division. They talked more about the light heavyweight division. And now people are talking about us and even after the tournament they are looking at the possible matchups with the fighters. I don’t think I would have gotten this much visibility, or the division wouldn’t have either, if it wasn’t for the Super Six Tournament. The Fight Camp 360° and the Staredown that just played, those are being watched by the mainstream fans.”
How did the delay in the fight affect your camp?
“I had already left home and you’re working day in and day out and then the cut happened. It’s obviously a let down. Physically, you have to be smart. The warrior in you, the fighter in you, especially with the stakes that are on the line, wants to keep grinding and keep working hard but you just have to be smart about it.
“One of my goals has always been for me to be Fighter of the Year and to get my coach Coach of the Year. It’s been a long time coming, almost 15 years of grinding and toiling when no one is around patting you on the back and there are no lights, camera, action. The lights and the cameras have just been coming around the last five, six, seven years but we’ve been grinding for many, many years. (Getting nominated as Fighter of the Year) would be icing on the cake for winning this tournament.”
Do you feel like your lack of flash has hurt you in a sport where flash and trash talking are so common?
“I’ve set out from day one to do things that I’ve been raised to do. I’m not going to change for anybody. I’m going to be myself. You’d be surprised how many people outside of boxing have come up to me and said, ‘Hey, I appreciate the way you carry yourself. I’m going to have my son or daughter look to you as an example.’ That kind of stuff right there means a lot more to mean than gaining a few more fans or writers saying, ‘Hey, this guy is crazy and we love him.’ Because if you look at a guy like Ricardo Mayorga, for example, he was a shooting star. He came in and made some noise and then he was gone. And people take shots at him and say he’s ignorant. Then when you have a fighter who comes in and tries to carry himself the right way, not as a front or an act but just has a clean lifestyle, then that’s not accepted either.
“So at the end of the day I’ve got to live my life in the middle. I can’t get caught up in wondering if people will like it or not. When it’s all said and done my children are going to look back on my career and I want to be able to point to my career and say, ‘Follow your dad. Do it the way he did it.’ Once this is all done and I hang them up, the legacy that is there will be there forever. So that’s more important for me to get a few pats on the back or for them to say you’re exciting outside of the ring. When you tell people you’re a fighter they expect you to be ignorant and to act a certain way. Like I’ve said many times I wasn’t raised that way.”
How do you expect the fight to go?
“Well, if you’ve seen my fights you know I do a little bit of everything and I also have the wherewithal to make adjustments throughout the fight. There are ebbs and flows in big fights like this. I’m expecting a very physical fight. As I’ve mentioned earlier, you don’t just win these types of fights, you’ve got to take them. Because you have two guys who have belts and you’re in a tournament that no one wants to lose. So you have to go take it and that’s what I’m prepared to do.”
Do you feel you have the power to hurt Carl?
“Absolutely. Don’t believe the hype. Absolutely.”
What has the Super Six done for your popularity and visibility?
“I’m getting viewed on TV by many fight fans now which is great. I’ve actually become more popular in American than before in England, which is great. I’ve really gotten some great matchups since the tournament started. (Andre) Dirrell, (Mikkel) Kessler, (Arthur) Abraham, (Glen) Johnson and now Ward. I don’t think those fights would have happened if it wasn’t for the tournament. It’s been great for Andre and it’s been great for myself.”
How did the delay in the fight affect your preparation?
“It actually worked in my favor. My trainer Rob McCracken is the head coach for the Great Britain Olympic boxing team and they actually had an Olympic qualifying tournament two weeks before my departure for New York for the previous date. It was going to work into my rest week and we were going to be OK with it. So essentially I had a two-week break when I heard about Ward’s injury. So I had a week with my family and then another week when I started to crank it up a bit. It was a little disappointing for me but the main problem it caused was having to get new flights and cheaper flights for my fans. But the response has been great since and each day I’m getting more and more people who are excited about coming over for the fight. It’s going to work out perfect.”
What do you expect to see from Andre Ward in this fight?
“Styles make fights, it’s an old cliché. It’s hard to look at past fights of fighters and then try and draw a conclusion on how a fight is going to go. I expect for him to come to box and to use his jab and his boxing skills. But he may try and close the gap and get into my chest and get rough in there. It’s hard to tell what to expect. It’s going to be a fantastic fight between two high level fighters. It’s going to be a war. There is a plan A and a plan B and maybe even a plan C.”
How has this tournament made you a better fighter?
“I think in the Pascal fight I was seen as more of a brawler early on before I started to get behind my jab and box and that made the fight a little bit easier for me. Against Taylor I needed a big finish which I got. I was able to show a lot of my skill against Arthur Abraham. You always learn about yourself fight by fight. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my style. I’m in a happy place right now. I know exactly what I need to do to win this fight. I’m confident and I’m looking forward to doing my business on the 17th.”
Virgil Hunter, Ward’s Trainer:
“It’s been a nice ride and we’re really looking forward to the conclusion. I can’t say we’ve had a perfect camp because we haven’t. There are always obstacles in camp but the main thing is, can you overcome those obstacles. Because perfection in a camp does not mean perfection in a fight and imperfection in a camp does not mean imperfection in a fight. We’re prepared for anything.
“Before Andre was a boxer he was a fighter, he would fight his way to victory. If you’re going to win a gold medal in the Olympics, you’re going to have to adapt to the amateur and point system and learn to win that way. So he’s had to adapt through training and repetition. But the fighting never left him. And I think that is one thing that surprises people about his fighting ability. Carl has said Andre hasn’t fought in any exciting fights. Well, it takes two to make an exciting fight and when one guy is dominating it’s not going to be exciting. When you’ve got two guys busting each other up beside the head, yes, from the fans’ perspective and the media’s perspective, that’s exciting. His fighting ability has always been there and the power of that fighting ability is that he knows when to use that strength against you and he knows when to use his opponents’ strength against him. That’s what makes up Andre Ward.
“I’m very excited about this fight because Carl is such a respected fighter. One thing about Froch is that I don’t think he’s going to do the same things the other fighters we have fought have. I don’t know if the media has picked up on it but after three or four rounds, they don’t want to fight Andre anymore. They want to protect themselves. They don’t want to take a beating. They start turning and start protecting themselves. A beating is career-threatening and this is what he is capable of doing to you. Carl has promised to fight till the end so I think this is going to be a fight that the fans are really going to enjoy. I would be disappointed if he didn’t fight and I think he will fight till the end.
“I don’t think any camp is perfect. I think our camp is designed not to be perfect. I get killers that come to my camp. I don’t want anyone coming in laid back coming just to collect a paycheck. I want them to sacrifice themselves and try and take (Andre’s) head off. You can do everything right. You can get your mileage in, you can get your sprints in, you can get your stopwatch and get you heartbeat and heart rate. Your diet, everything. And one punch can throw that right out of the window. Because it’s a mental game. You have to be able to stand up to what you’re facing so I don’t put much emphasis on perfection in camp that everything goes well and then assume that everything is going to go well in the fight. I really like to see a struggling camp and an overcoming aspect week by week and the adjustments you make to know that when the fight comes about, no matter the situation, that this fighter is going to adapt to that situation quickly and he’s going to accommodate that situation quickly. That’s what I mean by that.”
Rob McCracken, Froch’s Trainer:
“It’s been a good camp so far and it’s really going well. Anything can happen in boxing but Carl is in absolutely fantastic shape. He’s looking forward to this fight. I think everyone knows he’s a prize fighter and he really enjoys this sport and he really likes to fight. I really think that’s why he’s the fighter he is and why he’s in the tournament Final. This is what boxing is all about: two tremendous boxers fighting each other for a world title.”
Dan Goossen, Ward’s Promoter:
“To me the Super Six Tournament is one of the greatest things to happen to boxing over the past 20 or 30 years because you are guaranteed to have the best fight the best. I just think it’s a great concept. It will work again with the stipulation that the best are fighting the best.
“Carl Froch has been as quiet as a mouse (on this call).”
Eddie Hearn, Froch Promoter:
“We really want to thank SHOWTIME for sticking it out and putting this tournament out there. Many wondered if it would ever conclude and it’s been just a great journey. The Fight Camp 360° shows have been brilliant and really help build the profile of the fighters, and has given them so much exposure. Carl has become the most popular fighter in the UK now. This is the kind of fight that boxing needs and I’m proud to be on Carl’s team.”
Chris DeBlasio, Vice President, Sports Communications, Showtime Networks Inc.:
“We’re coming down the home stretch… internally from every corner of our company here at SHOWTIME the anticipation is palpable. The reaction we’ve gotten as we head into this Final has been overwhelming. And considering the endeavor we’ve taken upon here with the Super Six World Boxing Classic, the very first of its kind, it’s been just a wild, wild, ride for the fighters and we hope for the fans.
“We appreciate the media’s support and coverage–both positive, negative and otherwise. All of it has added to the intensity of the tournament. It has added to the notoriety that both Andre Ward and Carl Froch are deservedly getting at this point. Both of these men, along with their respective fight teams truly deserve to be here.
“Two of the original six. You have made a commitment to this and you have survived a gauntlet, fighting the best fighters in the super middleweight division. We are really proud at SHOWTIME to present this event. I can’t overstate that.
“So congratulations to both Andre Ward and Carl Froch and to your respective fight teams and families for your sacrifice and commitment to the Super Six. You’ve set yourselves apart in boxing by taking on the best fight after fight. That’s what SHOWTIME Sports set out to do and that’s what you have done. We anticipate nothing less than a monstrous finish on Dec. 17.”