Andre "S.O.G." Ward
Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Resides: Oakland, California
Current World Titles Held: WBA Super Middleweight (168 lbs.)
Former World Titles Held: None
Professional Record: 21-0, 13 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 1-0
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 2-0
Record at 168 lbs.: 12-0, 7 KOs
Allan "Ghost Dog" Green
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Resides: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Current World Titles Held: None
Former World Titles Held: None
Professional Record: 29-1, 20 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: None
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: None
Record at 168 lbs.: 10-0, 5 KOs
Notable Wins: UD10 Tarvis Simms, UD10 Rubin Williams
Notable Loss: UD10 Edison Miranda
Not too many people were looking forward to seeing Andre Ward, the revelation of the first stage of the Super Six World Boxing Classic, take on Jermain Taylor, after the latter suffered a crushing knockout loss at the hands of Arthur Abraham. But the proceedings got a welcome dose of unpredictability once Taylor dropped out of the tournament, paving the way for fellow American Allan Green to take his place.
While Ward is four years younger, it's Green who enters the Super Six as an untested wild card, having never competed for a world title or even been scheduled to go 12 rounds before this weekend. His calling card is his raw power, as more than a third of his professional opponents haven't made it to the end of the second round.
Of course, Ward had yet to test himself against elite competition before he took it to Mikkel Kessler for 11 rounds last November. Possessing just about every positive quality one would expect in a world champion except for true one-punch power, he'll be looking to prove his last outing was no fluke and show why numerous observers have him tipped for super-stardom.
Though it's a mistake to read too much into common opponents in boxing, it's interesting to compare how both fighters fared against free-swinging Edison Miranda. Ward was able to rely on his boxing skills to easily outpoint the Colombian last May, while Green came out on the short end of a decision in 2007, dropping Miranda in the eighth round but suffering two knockdowns of his own in the 10th.
A win by Ward would leave him alone atop the World Boxing Classic's leader board and take some of the pressure off of him heading into a tough final round robin fight against Andre Dirrell. Conversely, an upset by Green would pack the standings closely together and mean all six fighters would still have very real chances to win the whole thing.
One final note, with Yuri Foreman's knee injury still fresh in the minds of boxing fans, this fight was pushed back from April 24 due to a training injury to Ward's surgically repaired right knee. Though Andre claims he's 100 percent healthy, it remains to be seen if that's actually the case.
Ward's Winning Strategy: Stick and Move
Even though the Super Six format rewards fighters with an extra point for a knockout, the last thing Ward wants to do is play into his opponent's hands by trading shots with him. Pure power is Green's main strength and perhaps Ward's lone weakness, so Andre wants to avoid a slugfest.
Ward showed in his victory over Kessler that he has excellent lateral movement and a terrific sense for where and when to engage. Green moves better than the Viking Warrior, but Andre should still have a significant edge in this area.
He may have quicker hands too, so there's no reason for him to be a stationary target—unless his knee is worse than he's letting on. Expect Ward to try to bank early rounds by getting off first and getting out of the way, and if he sees that Green is wearing down, he may look for the KO in the late stages of the fight.
Green's Winning Strategy: Serve Up the Power Early
It's highly unlikely that Green will be able to stop a boxer the caliber of Ward in the first few rounds, but he can make Andre feel his power, and it's important that he does so as soon as possible.
If Green can get to Ward early, he may be able to put the WBA titleholder on the defensive and avoid falling behind on the cards while he looks for the fight-changing punch. Allan doesn't just have to swing wildly either, as he has an excellent jab that he usually deploys successfully to set up his power shots.
Boxers fighting at home in the World Boxing Classic have won every bout so far, and it won't be easy for Green to change that trend in Ward's backyard of Oakland. He's got the thunder in his fists to give himself a chance, but he can't afford to be tentative in his first shot on the big stage.