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Andre Ward and Carl Froch will bring the Super Six World Boxing Classic to its conclusion tonight after what feels like a decade. The ambitious tournament saw enough injuries, changes and delays to ultimately feel like a failure despite Showtime's best intentions.
Still, Ward has been able to use the tournament to emerge as not just a high level prospect, but as one of the best boxers pound-for-pound in the world.
Given that the bout will operate as a lead-in to tonight's Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Masvidal event, we'll have live coverage of the Super Six Final tonight at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime with the Strikeforce event to start directly following.
After the jump we have some preview materials including Showtime videos, previews of the bout and predictions for the winner.
Here is Showtime's "Staredown" feature (yes, it is shockingly similar to HBO's Face Off) with Ward and Froch sitting down to talk about their fight:
You can also watch the full Fight Camp 360 videos leading up to the fight online.
While earlier I referenced that Ward had emerged as one of the best boxer's in the world, what he has not done is emerge as a superstar with mass appeal. Over at Bad Left Hook, Kory Kitchen says that now is the time for Ward to step up:
Outside of the ring Ward is a mild-mannered "nice guy". You won't see him getting drunk at a nightclub, and shooting himself in the leg. He is not the kind of guy that will record a profanity-laced video aimed at his opponent to upload on the internet. As his nickname ["Son of God] suggests, he is a religious man that prefers the quieter lifestyle. He leans on his Christian faith, and references it frequently when discussing his personal life. He is often described as the kind of man that one would want his daughter to meet.
Inside of the ring Ward is a multi-faceted fighter capable of being chameleon-like to adapt to his opponent. Against Arthur Abraham he boxed his way to victory by using an educated jab and counterpunching. When he faced Mikel Kessler in his tourney opener he fought like a bull in the ring, bent on running roughshod over his European counterpart. Some have compared him to a young Bernard Hopkins because of his versatility, and I will not disagree with that. It may be a bit premature, but Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports even ranked him at third in his pound-for-pound voting.
Let all of what I have just told you sink in. Ward is a great guy, and could be on track to someday be the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound. Now, also consider this: he may never come close to becoming the big star that his talent suggests that he should be. When the Super Six tournament was created it had two main goals. First, find out who the top super middleweight in the world was (alongside Bute). Secondly, create a top star that can become a mainstream attraction. Not on the level of Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather, but at least a respectable name that mainstream audiences will recognize. It seems that we may have found the world's top 168-pound boxer, but the major star goal, however, has fallen short.
Also over at Bad Left Hook is a round-up of other fighter's predictions for the winner. We'll highlight Lucian Bute's pick since he is the man who would make the most sense for the winner to face (although many doubt he will):
"In my opinion, I think Andre Ward will be the winner of the Super Six. He is a smart fighter with good skills and he will avoid the power punch of Carl Froch. The fight on Dec. 17 is huge for the 168-pound division. I want to face the champion of this classic and really reign over the super middleweight division. I'm ready to fight Ward or Froch anywhere, anytime."