Andre "S.O.G." Ward
Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Resides: Oakland, California
Height: 6' 1"
Current World Titles Held: WBA Super Middleweight (168 lbs.)
Former World Titles Held: None
Professional Record: 23-0, 13 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 3-0
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 4-0
Record at Super Middleweight: 14-0, 7 KOs
Notable Wins: UD12 Sakio Bika, TD11 Mikkel Kessler, UD12 Edison Miranda
"King" Arthur Abraham
Birthplace: Yerevan, Armenia
Resides: Berlin, Germany
Height: 5' 10"
Current World Titles Held: None
Former World Titles Held: IBF Middleweight (160 lbs.)
Professional Record: 32-2, 26 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 11-1, 7 KOs
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 8-1
Record at Super Middleweight: 8-2, 8 KOs
Notable Wins: KO12 Jermain Taylor, TKO4 Edison Miranda II, KO5 Kingsley Ikeke
Notable Losses: UD12 Carl Froch, DQ11 Andre Dirrell
Though it's threatened to unravel on more than one occasion, Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic has finally reached the semifinals. And while the tournament final is only a win away, it would be hard to imagine two men coming in on more opposite ends of the spectrum of momentum than Andre Ward and Arthur Abraham.
For Ward, the Super Six has been a story of realized potential. The former Olympic gold medalist has long been tabbed as a future star, but it wasn't until his victory over Mikkel Kessler in the first phase of this event that many fans believed he could live up to the hype.
In contrast, Abraham entered the tournament as one of the favorites thanks to his long, mostly dominant reign as a middleweight titleholder. Yet after starting strong with a crushing final round knockout of Jermain Taylor, he has backed into the semifinals after two straight losses (he's since had a win outside of the Super Six) where he looked small and slow.
With that in mind, Abraham could literally be fighting for his career. He's made no bones about the fact that he would like to conquer America after fighting mostly in Germany before the Super Six kicked off, but another loss would almost certainly end any chance of that.
Ward has a unique chance to leap to the top of the ladder in terms of American boxers, at least until Floyd Mayweather returns to action. His lack of superior power and is soft-spoken nature have worked against his becoming a household name, but he's approaching the point in his career that if he simply keeps winning, the notoriety will at least partially take care of itself.
Natural advantages in size and speed should mean that Ward benefits if he can keep his distance and make it more of a boxing match. Abraham's power is his biggest threat, though he hasn't been able to utilize it effectively in the Super Six since the Taylor bout.
Abraham and his team had some objections to the officials initially assigned to this match, which will take place in Ward's home state of California. It's worth noting that no one fighting in the tournament at home has lost a decision yet.
Ward's Winning Strategy: Grab the Early Lead
Abraham is a notoriously slow starter, so the early rounds should be there for the taking for Ward. He's got the smarts to control the distance and the pace of the action, and he'll want to make sure he does so right from the opening bell.
The worst thing for Ward would be to fall behind, because his lack of stopping power makes him ill-suited to chase the fight needing late knockdowns or a stoppage. He'll also have to be cautious in case Abraham comes out more active than usual, something the Armenian has promised before but so far been unable to do.
Ward has shown that he can handle himself in gritty close-range exchanges, something he rarely had to do before the Super Six. As long as that's not happening in the first half of the fight and Andre has done what he needed to do to build a lead, he should be in fine shape to advance to the final.
Abraham's Winning Strategy: Let Your Hands Go
For years, Abraham was able to defend his middleweight belt by keeping a high guard in the opening rounds and taking some time to figure out his opponents, confident that his accuracy and power would prove the distance as the fight went on. That same approach worked in his opener against Taylor, but it was far from effective against Andre Dirrell and Carl Froch.
Abraham has said all the right things about starting earlier and letting his hands go more frequently. Now he actually has to do it if he has any hopes of upsetting Ward.
It should help that Ward isn't a fearsome puncher, so Abraham might be able to take a punch to give one. He's got to find some way inside, and when he does, he absolutely must throw multiple punches. His time as a boxer who can get big fights in the U.S. might be over if he doesn't.
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