Monday, July 18, 2011
Boardwalk Hall gets Super Six finale
By Dan Rafael
Just over two years after Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic began on Oct. 17, 2009, it will end with the 11th fight of the tournament when super middleweight titlist Andre Ward and Carl Froch meet Oct. 29 to unify their belts.
And now there is a site for the fight too: Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J.
"This is a great opportunity to get Andre in front of the East Coast fans and media because he is a very talented young champion that people are going to love to embrace once they see him," Dan Goossen, Ward's promoter, said Monday. "And then you go to Boardwalk Hall and it has a tremendous history to it with all the great fights and fighters who have fought there. For years Las Vegas and Atlantic City have fought for that title of boxing capital of the world."
Goossen and Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) have taken some heat from fans and media during the tournament because Ward is the only participant to have had all of his bouts essentially at home. The Oakland, Calif., native has fought either in his hometown or in Los Angeles in his home state. Now he will be fighting on the East Coast for the first time in his professional career.
"Caesars is looking forward to hosting the Super Six finals in Atlantic City. Since we hosted one of the semifinals with great success, it is only natural for us to bring the much publicized finals between Andre Ward and Carl Froch to AC," said Caesars Atlantic City consultant Ken Condon, who buys the fights for the casino.
Ward said he will be ready for his first tournament fight outside of California.
"Going into a fight of this magnitude, I expect the toughest fight of my career," Ward, a 2004 U.S. Olympic gold medalist, said. "The Super Six has given me the opportunity to fight the best and, so far, I've been fortunate to beat the best. It's also given me the chance to do what I've always wanted to do and that's become undisputed champion. This fight brings me closer."
Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) had his first bout of the tournament, a win against Andre Dirrell, in his hometown of Nottingham, England, but the rest on the road.
In the other group stage bouts, Froch lost a decision to Mikkel Kessler in Kessler's native Denmark and beat Arthur Abraham on neutral turf in Helsinki, Finland. In the June 4 semifinals, Froch outpointed Glen Johnson in the smaller upstairs arena at Boardwalk Hall.
"Not only is (the fight with Ward) for two world titles, but it's for the tournament trophy and the Ring (magazine) belt is also on the line. It makes this the biggest and the most prestigious fight to happen for as far back as I can remember," Froch said.
"This has been a fantastic tournament. It has produced some amazing fights in our division, fights that certainly would not have happened otherwise. For the final, we have a great fight between two superior athletes."
The winner of the fight will be viewed almost universally as the No. 1 fighter at 168 pounds, which was the goal of the tournament when Showtime's Ken Hershman put it together in the summer of 2009.
"I can't think of two more deserving men than Andre and Carl to represent this tournament in the final with a chance for one of them to hoist high the inaugural Super Six World Boxing Classic Cup," Hershman said. "The two survived the gauntlet -- fighting one elite athlete after another -- and rightfully deserve the division's top billing.
"The Super Six was created to determine the No. 1 super middleweight in the world through an arduous run of championship level fights, but more importantly, to sustain conversation and pique interest in these boxers before, during and between fights. It is clear that we have delivered that and much more."
Dan Rafael is the senior boxing writer for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.