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Another step forward for Andre Ward

He stays unbeaten and reaches 'Super Six' super-middleweight final. A slimmer Cris Arreola wins on TKO.

May 14, 2011|By Lance Pugmire
  • Andre Ward, left, defeated Germany's Arthur Abraham by unanimous decision Saturday night at Home Depot Center to defend his WBA super-middleweight title and advance to the 'Super Six' tournament final.
Andre Ward, left, defeated Germany's Arthur Abraham by unanimous… (Kevork Djansezian / Bongarts…)

Sensational boxing might not equate on the excitement meter to pure knockout power, but what Andre Ward produced while picking apart Germany's Arthur Abraham on Saturday night remains something to behold.

Impressively filling the sport's void left by another former U.S. Olympic champion, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Ward punished Abraham with jabs, peppered him with straight rights and even briefly turned southpaw at the Home Depot Center to advance to the final of the "Super Six" super-middleweight tournament.

Oakland's Ward (24-0) battered Abraham's face to retain his World Boxing Assn. title by unanimous decision, winning by scores of 120-108 (judge Stanley Christodoulou), 118-111 (James Jen Kin) and 118-110 (Ingo Barrabas).

Ward now heads to a fall date against the June 4 winner of Carl Froch versus Glen Johnson in the Super Six final.

"I want to be a champion for a long time and I want to take the least amount of punishment possible doing so," Ward said afterward.

The words are familiar to Mayweather's fans, but against the heavier hands of former world champion Abraham (32-3), Ward was forced to feel painful whipping blows and a hard left uppercut in the third round that kept the veteran in the fight early.

"Getting hit is not cool.," Ward said.

"I'd listen to my corner and talk to myself. I'd say, 'When you get hit, bite down and fight back.'"

Ward leaned heavily on his laser-like jab, landing it by a 107-64 margin and using it to set up body shots and scoring combinations.

Abraham was clearly being outworked in the middle rounds and his corner urged him to apply more pressure before the sixth.

"I tried to go for the knockout and couldn't do it," Abraham said in the ring afterward. "I cramped up and got too tense."

Ward said Abraham was "huffing and puffing after the fourth round."

Abraham threw only nine punches in the seventh round, and when Ward slyly ducked a panicked attack in the eighth, the outcome seemed inevitable.

Ward would jab, move, strike. He dominated the 10th round, and turned southpaw as he first did in the seventh to pelt Abraham with more combination punishment.

He capped the effort with a hard right in the 12th that backed the tough German to the ropes.

Earlier, Riverside heavyweight Cris Arreola continued his desertion from downtime and food and drinking binges that were stopping him from winning his biggest fights, including the world heavyweight championship two years ago.

Raising his arms in a post-fight victory display that cried, "How do you like me now?" the newly slimmed fighter claimed a convincing third-round technical knockout of New York's Nagy Aguilera.

"I feel like speed kills now; pressure and speed," Arreola said.

Those words couldn't have been said a few years ago, with Arreola routinely weighing in more than 250 pounds. But the 30-year-old has dedicated himself to fitness as never before, weighing in for this bout at 234 pounds and displaying the strength and endurance to shorten the fight to less than nine minutes.

Arreola (31-2, 27 knockouts) immediately backed Aguilera (16-6) to the ropes and a big right in the first round forced Aguilera back to his corner post.

In the third, Arreola's fierce assault was relentless, and referee Raul Caiz Jr. stepped in at the 1:58 mark to stop the fight.

"It's only my second fight back since being serious," Arreola said. "I'll be back in the gym, back to work on Tuesday."

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