Andre Ward battles to keep record untarnished

It’s hard to not lose at anything, especially boxing. But that’s what Andre Ward — so far — has managed to do.

Saturday in Atlantic City, Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) and Carl Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) will close Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic, a tourney meant to crown the best 168-pounders.

But in order to establish super middleweight supremacy, Ward will have to dethrone England’s Froch, an ornery battler with an equal penchant for toughness and ring smarts.

Froch demonstrated such toughness in getting off the deck against Jermain Taylor in 2009, knocking the American out in 12 rounds. And the boxing lesson he administered to Arthur Abraham demonstrated, too, that “The Cobra” is no mindless mauler.

“I’ll be trying to hit Andre Ward in the face — very hard and very often,” said Froch, who won’t target the healed cut above Ward’s right eye. “It’s too difficult to target a square inch on somebody’s cranium.”

That square inch is the reason why this boardwalk finale is happening Saturday as opposed to the original Oct. 29 date. Ward suffered the cut during a sparring session in September. But as always, the San Francisco-born Oakland resident is ready to go.

“For some reason, there seems to be questions from Froch’s camp and the media about toughness, physicality, things like that,” Ward said. “There’s a sense that I’m looking to squeak by in this fight. You don’t squeak by fights at this level. You take them and that’s what I plan to do.”

When the Showtime tournament got underway in late 2009, it was unknown how Ward would fare against elite competition. Three straight tournament wins over then-favorite Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green and Abraham have provided the answer.

“A lot of people keep talking to me about being the favorite, Ward said. “We’re not the favorite. I still have that chip on my shoulder, but that’s how we prepare.”

Ward’s style, while not always pretty, is one that wins. The undefeated speedster employs a moxie where he can land his blows in close or from range, all the while maintaining a competent defense.

“I’m a warrior,” Ward said. “But people only give the warrior tag if you get cut every other fight or you’re in a Fight of the Year candidate every other fight.”

To be champ, the Olympic gold medalist won’t have to be a warrior Saturday. He’ll just have to win.

 

FIGHT NIGHT

Andre Ward vs. Carl Froch

AT STAKE: Super Six World Boxing Classic title

WHEN: Saturday, 9 p.m. (tape delayed on West Coast)

WHERE: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, N.J.

SCHEDULE: 12-round fight

WARD FILE: 27 years old, from Oakland, 24-0 (13 KOs)

FROCH FILE: 34 years old, from Nottingham, England, 28-1 (20 KOs)

Niners vs. Packers playoff history brings back memories

The two teams played in three NFC Championship Games back in the 1990s

Niners face tough road through NFL playoffs. Next stop Green Bay

Kickoff temperature expected to be 13 degrees, and dropping fast

Draymond Green’s injury opens for Warriors’ Jonathan Kuminga

Rookie showing flashes of brilliance, with room to improve