Andre Ward retains title by beating Allan Green
Updated: June 20, 2010, 00:49
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OAKLAND, Calif.(AP) Andre Ward 's game plan was to stay close to Allan Green to negate the dangerous left hook. When Green obliged by spending most of the night against the ropes, Ward was eager to take advantage.
Ward thoroughly dominated the tough-talking Green to clinch a spot in the semifinals of the Super Six tournament, winning by unanimous decision Saturday night in the first defense of the WBA super middleweight title.
"This means a lot to me,'' Ward said. "I couldn't get caught up in the first defense too much mentally. Now that it's over with, I'm ecstatic I was able to defend this belt one time. I feel like a real champion now.''
Ward advanced to the final four of the modified round-robin tournament with one round to go. He won all 12 rounds from the three judges in front of his hometown crowd in Oakland. Ward won the title last November when he beat Mikkel Kessler in the first round of the tournament.
Green (29-2) lost in his first fight since replacing an injured Jermain Taylor in the tournament. He still can advance to the semifinals by winning in the third round against Kessler.
Green was upset that he wasn't included in the original field of the tournament and questioned Ward for postponing the fight earlier this spring because of a right knee injury. But he couldn't back up his bold prefight talk once he got into the ring.
"Sometimes it looks easy but it's never easy,'' Ward said. "I have a lot of respect for Allan Green. He told me afterward that he had a lot of respect for me. Prior to the fight I didn't see it that way.''
After a feeling out process in the first round when both fighters went long stretches without even attempting a punch, Ward took over with a few strong left hands.
Ward backed Green into the ropes early in the third round. That is where the fighters spent much of the rest of the fight, with Green backed into the ropes and Ward delivering punches from close range.
"It ended up being more of an inside battle than we expected,'' Ward said. "Before the fight, he was making comments about me not being an inside fighter, never throwing body shots. Man I'm thinking, 'That's my game. Does this guy watch any of my fights?' When he wanted to stay there and fight inside I was very happy about that.''
Green connected on few punches and at times appeared to be just holding onto Ward to stand up. Ward delivered a couple of big blows in the seventh round at the ropes and the referee asked Green if he was OK after the round.
Green lasted all 12 rounds, but needing a knockout to win late he had little left. The fight ended with Ward connecting again near the ropes. Ward's only regret in the fight was being unable to score a knockout, which he said became tough when Green only tried to stay up in the later rounds instead of going for the win.
"It's hard to knock a guy out who has made up his mind that he's not going to get knocked out,'' Ward said. "That's what kind of happened tonight.''
Green went to the hospital after the fight to get stitches, missing the post-fight news conference. He told Showtime that he was weakened by going through three training camps since December.
"I had to stop running about three weeks ago because I was feeling so weak in training camp,'' he said. "I wasn't feeling right, and I knew coming into this fight that I wasn't feeling my best. Andre Ward showed me a lot of things that I know about, a lot of things I can deal with, but a lot of things I couldn't react to because I was feeling extremely weak. I'm not trying to take anything away from him, that's just how I felt.''
Green's promoter, Lou DiBella, praised Ward after the fight.
"Two fights in a row dominating some of the best fighters in his division,'' DiBella said. "I don't think there's any doubt the favorite in the Super Six is the man to my right.''
Green had won six straight fights, with his only career loss coming three years ago against Edison Miranda in a middleweight fight. Ward beat Miranda by a unanimous decision last year.
Ward's final fight in the round-robin stage of the tournament will come against Andre Dirrell, who was on hand to watch his friend's latest win. Ward is assured of a spot in next year's semifinals but can clinch the top seed with a win.
"I knew it was going to be a clinic,'' Dirrell said. "If Allan didn't bring damage to Andre Ward early then he wasn't going to do it at all. After the fourth round, I knew it was going to be a wrap.''
The Super Six was designed by premium cable network Showtime to feature six of the best 168-pounders in the world, with each guaranteed three fights and earning points based on their outcome. The four participants with the most points would advance to seeded semifinals, with a championship bout scheduled for next year.
The fans in Oakland liked almost everything they saw in the fight, except for an appearance by former Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell. The fans booed Russell as he walked to his seat in the eighth round, still upset over three failed years as Raiders quarterback that ended with his release last month.
Russell, wearing an Alabama Crimson Tide hat and jacket, was booed again loudly as he left the arena after the fight.