Boxing's Ward

June 15, 2010 7:05 AM


Green has puncher’s chance

Olympic gold is not all that glitters for Andre Ward. The 26-year-old Oakland resident became one of the true gems in American boxing in his dazzling last start and now returns, at home, to consolidate his new stature.

Ward, who was much the best as an underdog against the Super Six super-middleweight favorite Mikkel Kessler of Denmark, is pitted against a dangerous puncher in Allan Green next Saturday in Showtime’s main event at Oakland’s Oracle Arena.

Green, a late addition to the 168-pound tournament, replacing Jermain Taylor, has 20 knockouts in 29 victories against a lone loss, a 2007 decision to the dangerous Edison Miranda. Green lost more than the fight – his reputation was somewhat tarnished when he fought scared.

But Dandy Dan Rafael, who covered the bout in San Juan, has testified that Green was ill beforehand.

But the fact that Ward, last year, scored a somewhat one-sided decision over Senor Miranda, probably accounts for some of the large odds in his favor here. I am more inclined to think it is the home-ring advantage as well as his brilliant performance against Kessler, whose only previous loss was to Joe Calzaghe, and who has since rebounded in the round-robin tournament by outpointing Carl Froch of England.

At minus $6 I am not about to jump all over Ward. The undefeated 2004 Olympic champion – 21-0 with 13 knockouts – figures strongly to win, but the odds are no bargain. On the other hand, I heartily recommend not falling for the 4-1 buyback rate on a fighter who basically is an

ESPN2 Friday Night warrior – 12 of his 30 professional bouts were shown on that venue.

At age 30, he has yet to step into the ring with anyone with Ward’s skills. It is like he is jumping from Triple A to face a major league all-star. Yes, he has a chance, but the main reason to watch this telecast is to view a 26-year-old fighter who may be among the sport’s elite for years to come.

I don’t believe Kessler is a giant, but Ward’s ability to outbox him, shifting around and peppering the Dane with crisp combinations, was simply exhilarating. I put him with such young stars as Devon Alexander, Paul Williams, Tim Bradley, Chad Dawson and the half of the island of Cuba that has already defected, as proof that there will be great boxing after Mayweather and Pacquiao.

Green, though, has the proverbial puncher’s chance, even more so because I believe he understands the problems he faces against Ward’s speed and agility.

"I know I have the power to knock Andre Ward out," said the man from Tulsa. "But I’m not looking for a one-punch knockout. He’s a very clever fighter and a hard fighter to catch with a knockout punch."

It would be interesting to see Green catch him at least once to verify my hunch that Ward’s chin is another of his multifold assets. Ward has become The Man in this tournament, especially since the "other" Andre, Dirrell, upset Arthur Abraham. Dirrell lost a controversial decision to Froch in the opening round, and since Froch was later defeated by Kessler, logic should make Ward the tournament favorite now.

The round-robin has given some heat and electricity to the 168-pound division, but without the participation of HBO’s Lucien Bute, is should not be considered definitive as far as arriving at the most super super-middle.

But the concept could easily be applied to other low-profile divisions, such as lightweight and cruiserweight. Putting the best fighters in with each other is always a good tool for increasing business in boxing.