Andre Ward on his fight with Abraham, styles, and the chip on his shoulder
By John J. Raspanti (May 10, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
Andre Ward
WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward sits quietly in the corner of Kings Gym. He looks up occasionally at a sound or movement but soon returns to his hands. All around him are reminders of boxing's long and rich history. His very own banner hangs behind the ring as a reminder of his winning the 2004 Olympic Gold medal in the light heavyweight division. The old gym is sparse and smells of sweat and commitment. It creaks and groans as if bothered by the prospect of upcoming activity.

  Ward is preparing for his May 14 fight with Arthur Abraham. The man known as King Arthur brings into the contest an impressive record of 32-2 with 26 big knockouts. Ward is very aware of the Armenian’s style and punching power. 

  "I have to adapt to whatever it is, “replied Ward. “Bika was a whole different beast. Kessler had his style. Miranda had his style. We have to adapt. We just have to see what kind of style a guy brings, and we have to figure out a way to beat him. That’s our job”.

  Abraham lost by disqualification against Andre Dirrell and was soundly defeated by Carl Froch last November. He returned to the ring in February of this year with an easy victory, but Ward has seen a change in Abraham’s personality since his losses. “He’s probably humbled by what’s happened. He definitely had a different attitude at the press conference when the tournament was announced. I think he’s humbled yeah, but he’s got the heart of a champion, and he’s going to come to win this fight as I am. His back is against the wall and so is mine. Losing, it’s never a convenient time to lose in this business. It should make for a great fight”.  

Did Abraham’s recent losses affect the way Ward is going about preparing for their fight? The answer is an emphatic no.  

“It doesn’t really bother me in terms of pushing hard and focusing", he replies. "Guys lose in this business. That doesn’t mean there finished. Arthur Abraham is a former world champion and will be very determined in this fight. That’s the guy were preparing for, were preparing for the best Arthur Abraham”.  

Abraham has been training quietly in Germany. The former king of the middleweight division is untroubled by being an underdog. “I know he is the favorite but that motivates me even more. Over history many favorites have crashed down”.  

The former champion is correct about upsets. A few weeks ago, Nobuhiro Ishida absolutely stunned James Kirkland and the boxing community with a first-round knockout. David Lemieux entered his fight with Marco Antonio Rubio with a record of 25-0 with 24 knockouts. Lemieuz was expected to roll over the veteran Rubio inside of four rounds. Instead, Rubio found some extra vitality and stopped the youngster in the seventh round.  

Abraham is hoping to be the next upset winner “You’ll be surprised on May 14. It’s not my style to make big predictions. I want to show you inside the ring”.  

Ward expects Abraham to be Abraham on May 14.  

The undefeated champion, (23-0 13 KOs) will be entering the ring with his edge intact and a bit of a chip on his shoulder.” If something hasn’t been said to the media from my opponent, we create something”, he says quietly. “There’s always a chip on my shoulder. It’s nothing personal. I train with that chip. I try to make ever rep count, every mile. It’s been working for us. I think that’s the right mindset to have, I think if you have that mindset and chip on your shoulder, whether you’re the favorite, or you’re the underdog it really doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t effect you at all mentally. Whether a guy is coming off a loss or a spectacular win, you’re locked in what you have to do”.  

Can Arthur Abraham pull off another upset on May 14?  

It's possible, but Andre Ward’s versatility and ring generalship will likely be too much for Abraham to handle. Ward will stay on the outside and stab Abraham with his jab. He will keep Arthur busy by throwing many punches and moving. Abraham will come forward and likely throw more punches. His one advantage is power. He will have to find a way to get close enough to Ward to connect. Andre is a couple of inches taller than the stocky Abraham, and holds a slight reach advantage. As the fight progresses, Abraham will become more desperate and could leave himself open for counters. Ward will counter and tattoo Abraham with some uppercuts and left hooks. Abraham will be throwing bombs that will mostly catch air. Ward might stop Abraham late, but it’s more likely he will capture a unanimous decision victory, thus moving him into the finals of the Super-Six Tournament.

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