Andre Ward injury delays Super Six final
Super middleweight titlist Andre Ward suffered a cut over his right eye in training on Thursday, which required seven stitches and forced the postponement of his unification fight with England's Carl Froch.
They were due to meet Oct. 29 in Atlantic City, N.J., in the final of Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic.
"Bad news: I sustained a cut in sparring a few hours ago," Ward, who was training in his hometown of Oakland, Calif., tweeted Thursday night. "Flew to (Los Angeles) to see the Doc. I got 7 stitches. I will let you know the new date soon."
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Ward was sparring with Brandon Gonzalez on Thursday afternoon when he suffered what promoter Dan Goossen called "a fluke cut."
Goossen said Ward immediately flew from Oakland to Los Angeles to meet with Dr. Paul Wallace, a plastic surgeon and California ringside doctor. Wallace was responsible for stitching up the horrendous cut that Vitali Klitschko suffered in his heavyweight championship fight with Lennox Lewis in 2003.
"I met Andre at the airport last night and took him to see Dr. Paul Wallace and he ended up receiving seven stitches," Goossen told ESPN.com. "It was a clean, straight cut, which is good. It heals much better and faster that way rather than it being a jagged one. No nerves or any other part of the eye was affected."
Goossen said the cut was directly above Ward's right eyebrow.
"It was somewhat shocking," Goossen said. "I would attribute this to a being a fluke cut. He had the head gear on, a full face bar and all. He doesn't recall getting hit or a head butt, or elbow that would cause it. It was just one of those freak accidents that very seldom occur when you are sparring and have head gear on."
"I'm extremely disappointed about this cut," Ward said. "We used every precaution, including head gear with a face bar and it was just a fluke situation. My sparring partner and I were involved in an exchange inside and the next thing I knew, I was bleeding. That is the most frustrating thing about this -- I don't have an explanation for how it happened.
"This is very frustrating for my camp and I knew that if the shoe was on the other foot and Froch suffered an injury, I would be extremely disappointed. We were in full camp and counting down the days until Oct. 29. At this point, I'm looking forward to healing up and getting a new date to finish what I started and become the Super Six Champion."
Ward is due to have the stitches removed Thursday.
Showtime had its crew from the reality series "Fight Camp 360" filming during Ward's training and the crew accompanied Ward to Los Angles, so viewers will see what happened during the next episode of the series, which debuts Oct. 8 (10 p.m. ET/PT).
After all of the issues that have beset the Super Six, it should not come as much of a surprise that the final wound up being postponed. The six-man tournament was conceived as an 18-month event, but was already stretched to two years after several previous delays, injuries and fighter dropouts.
"Injuries in boxing are inevitable at this, the highest level of competition," said Showtime's Ken Hershman, the mastermind of the tournament. "As we've done since this tournament's inception, we'll forge ahead. We are seeking available dates at this time and hope to have an announcement shortly. Rest assured, we will deliver this dramatic final tournament bout, one that is surely the biggest fight in this division's history."
Goossen said a new date for the final has not been determined, although the fall calendar is jammed and it is possible the fight won't be rescheduled until early next year.
"The fight is postponed, but I am talking to the site, Showtime and the doctor, along with Andre, to see when we could reschedule everything," Goossen said. "Andre is very professional in the truest sense of the word. He handled this professionally, but obviously there is disappointment from all of us. But you have to deal with reality. Andre was great about it, but dejected."
Froch found out about the postponement from Ward's tweet and was not happy about it.
"This is absurd and unprofessional. Ward needs to get his act together," Froch said. "Of course, you've got to take the medical advice seriously, but for a cut to put you out of a fight a full five weeks before the event is ludicrous. If it were two weeks out from the fight, maybe I'd understand. But he's got 35 days to deal with it. To me, he's showing his weakness. Nothing changes for me. I'll be ready if and when he shows up."
Said Eddie Hearn, Froch's promoter, "Obviously it is frustrating. Carl's camp has gone perfectly and we were ready to unify the titles on Oct. 29. Carl is in the shape of his life but he is a true professional and will take this in his stride and be ready for victory on a date given in 2011."
Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) advanced to the final by rolling through each of his tournament bouts in dominant fashion.
Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) suffered his only loss in the second round of the round-robin tournament to Mikkel Kessler -- who later dropped out -- but compiled enough points to advance to the semifinals, where he outpointed Glen Johnson in June.
Dan Rafael is the senior boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.