"I think with Carl Froch, what you see is what you get. He has some strengths. A lot of people talk about his grit and his toughness. I mean, hey, he's a champion and he's supposed to have that, but you don't get extra points and you don't get kudos for getting hit a lot. I don't really overrate his toughness. I think he's a tough guy, but I also feel like I'm a tough guy. He has strong, decent skills. He's determined, but so am I. He's a solid fighter and he's coming to fight. He's a proud fighter, but I also feel like I have a lot to offer to the table...we're going to be in the best possible shape we can be in and we're going to get that hardware: the Super Six trophy, the WBC belt, the Ring Magazine belt, which will be on the line, and of course defending my WBA belt too...There's a lot on the line for this fight," stated WBA super middleweight champion Andre Ward, who talked about his title unification with WBC super middleweight champion Carl Froch coming up later this years in the finals of the Super Six Tournament. You don't want to miss what else he had to say about the fight, Carl Froch, and much more.
BT: Dre, what's going on man?
AW: Nothing much; just taking it easy.
BT: Congratulations on making it to the finals of the Super Six tournament. How long has it been going on now?
AW: I think we're going on two years.
BT: Man, that's a long time. How does it feel to know the finish line is right around the corner?
AW: It feels good. At the end of the day, obviously that's not just the goal, to get to the finals. I think a lot of people are surprised and kind of shocked that we're here, but realistically, myself and my coach Virgil [Hunter], who's also my godfather, this was our plan from day one. We obviously knew it was a lot of work to get here, but we're not suprised. We feel like we've done a good job and it's almost over, but it's not over yet.
BT: Obviously, we now know that you're going to be facing Carl Froch. When the tournament first started and you were looking over the brackets and sizing everyone up, did you think it was going to be Froch or were you expecting someone else to make it?
AW: To be honest with you, I never really allowed myself to get caught up in the numbers and the points, and who was going to be there or who wasn't going to be there, because there was far too much work that was cut out for me, including my first fight, which was against a reigning two-time champion [Mikkel Kessler] at the time, an individual who only had one loss and who was the favorite in that tournament. That was my biggest obstacle in front of me, so I never really gave it much thought. I think I have been quoted as saying this from day one, but as long as I'm on the other side of that ring, it really doesn't matter who's on the other side either.
BT: You recently had the opportunity to see Froch up close and personal. What did you think about his performance against Glen Johnson and what do you think about his skills inside the ring?
AW: I think Carl Froch did what he had to do. I don't think there's anything more or anything less I can say about it. I feel like Glen Johnson fought the best fight that he could fight at 40-some-odd years old. I mean, you have to take your hat off to him. He's still able to make fights interesting against younger opponents and he's definitely in every fight that he's in, so he fought the best that he could fight. I don't think the weight was an issue. I don't think there were any excuses. He did the best he could. He just fell short and Carl did what he had to do to get the victory. I mean, that's what he was supposed to do.
BT: Watching that fight, were you able to take anything away from it? Did you see any openings that you felt like you knew you could immediately exploit?
AW: Well, each fighter does something a little bit differently when they fight a different opponent. I think with Carl Froch, what you see is what you get. He has some strengths. A lot of people talk about his grit and his toughness. I mean, hey, he's a champion and he's supposed to have that, but you don't get extra points and you don't get kudos for getting hit a lot. I don't really overrate his toughness. I think he's a tough guy, but I also feel like I'm a tough guy. He has strong, decent skills. He's determined, but so am I. He's a solid fighter and he's coming to fight. He's a proud fighter, but I also feel like I have a lot to offer to the table. The only problem with Froch is when he talks, he only talks about one side of the coin; he talks about himself. He doesn't talk about the other side. He talks about how hungry he is and how determined he is and how he's representing his country and how he's gotta feed his family. Well, there's another fighter that has to do the same thing and that's me.
BT: Froch definitely knows how to mix it up in there, but I think you've proven you can do a little bit of everything no matter where the fight goes. You can bang on the inside and you can box from the outside. What kind of a fight are you expecting from Froch?
AW: It's hard to say, but I'm not really concerned about his game plan. I'm not really thinking that far into it. I have to show up and I have to be ready to adjust like I've shown that I can do. That's obviously what makes a great fighter. I'm not a great fighter yet, but the point is, whatever he brings, I need to be ready. Whether he decides to box or wants to test my grit and my will, whatever it is, we have to have an answer for it and in the weeks and months leading up to this fight, that's what we're going to do. We're going to prepare ourselves mentally for that type of fight, and physically, we're going to be in the best possible shape we can be in and we're going to get that hardware: the Super Six trophy, the WBC belt, the Ring Magazine belt, which will be on the line, and of course defending my WBA belt too. That's our mentality.
BT: That's a lot of trinkets to collect, man.
AW: That's a lot. There's a lot on the line for this fight.
BT: I think that's kind of getting lost in all of the Super Six tournament hoopla. I mean, don't get me wrong, the finale of the tournament is great, but I think a lot of people are forgetting that this is a huge unification fight in the Super Middleweight division.
AW: It is. It's a huge fight. The twists and turns that this tournament has taken, the duration of this tournament and what it's taken to even get to the finals, I mean, it's even that much bigger. There's also the unification, and then thirdly, it solidifies who is the best at 168 pounds, with all due respect to Lucian Bute, just simply because I feel like we fought the better competition. The guys in the tournament had to fight the best competition at this weight back to back for the past two years and the past three or four fights. I think the winner of this will be considered the best super middleweight because of the Ring Magazine belt, which the number one fighter in the division and the number two fighter are fighting for. I think Lucian Bute should have to fight the winner to see if he can beat the best; it's not the other way around. So there's huge ramifications in this fight and daily, that's what I'm thinking about. I'm thinking about everything that's on the line.
BT: Yeah, this is a huge fight. I mean, if you think about it, this should be a pay-per-view fight. I almost feel like Showtime didn't do it justice enough. Not taking anything away from Showtime because they did a great job of putting it together, but man, if this was back in the 80's, this would be a huge title unification event.
AW: Oh, I agree. I feel like it's a lot bigger than what people think. I think once the promotion starts for this fight and everything gets kicked off, I think people will start realizing how big this really is. And of course you have the UK factor. They obviously know what's at stake and they're behind their man, Carl Froch, so just the fact that it's the United States versus the United Kingdom, I think it makes it even that much bigger.
BT: So they're talking October 29th, right? That's the date that's tentatively scheduled?
AW: Well, I've heard two dates. I've heard October 9th and I've heard October 29th. One of those dates, from what I hear, will be a Vegas date and the other date will be an Atlantic City date. Obviously I feel like this fight should be in Las Vegas, so I'm just waiting to get the call like everybody else as far as where it's going to be.
BT: Yeah, Froch is actually pushing for Vegas too. It's a Vegas fight, at least I think it is.
AW: I just think naturally that's where it needs to be. That's no disrespect to Atlantic City because there's been great fights at that venue and in that building. Even Madison Square Garden was brought up and, I mean, that's obviously a historic place to fight, but there's something about Vegas. I've never fought there and I think this would be fitting for the finals of the Super Six.
BT: You know, a lot of your critics like to bring that fact up, that most of your fights have been in California. I was curious, I know it's nice to have the crowd behind you, but is that really a big advantage to have when the fight's going on, or do you not even hear all that cheering in the heat of battle?
AW: To be honest with you, there's a lot more pressure for a hometown fighter, especially in a big fight, because most of the people in the building are pulling for you, so it's not like...I mean, obviously it energizes a fighter to a degree and it helps, but at the end of the day, you still have to execute. You still have to go in the ring and fight and win. All the fuss about the hometown, if you look at the situation for what it is and if you don't get caught up in everything that's being said, I think it's just the way the chips fell. Like the situation with Kessler, it was a co-promotion. That means there's two people, two promoters, sitting at the table deciding where the fight's going to be and how the revenue is going to be split, so we didn't strong-arm anybody and tell them they had to come.
BT: Not to mention, it's not like any of your fights have been close or controversial. You've pretty much dominated. I'm not sure why some people would think an Olympic gold medalist would be reluctant to fight abroad (laughing).
AW: I've fought abroad obviously as an amateur. I've fought in the UK, I've fought in Ireland, I've fought in Greece, I've fought in many different places and was fortunate enough to win, but even as a professional, I've fought in several different venues. I mean, it's a huge deal for me to fight for my fans, but I'm not necessarily pushing to fight there fight-in and fight-out. If you ask Dan Goossen, my promoter, even the last couple of fights I requested to fight in other venues and other places just simply so we can get exposure outside of my hometown, but also so we can come back and hopefully it'll be a bigger. These are discussions that I have with Dan in the midst of negotiations with other venues. I just think that people kind of read too much into it. Some people like to reach for something and that's something that they can reach for and talk about.
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