There’s always a twist when an amateur turns pro, especially an outstanding amateur. The decision between becoming a professional or going for the gold medal is a decision that can affect an entire career. If a fighter is living a comfortable life, does that mean he will spend more time as an amateur and attempt to make the Olympics? If a fighter is struggling financially, does he turn pro earlier to try to make a buck? It depends on a fighter’s hopes, dreams and needs.
There have been many Olympic medalists who have had extremely successful professional careers: 1960 light-heavy-weight Muhammad Ali (then known as Cassius Clay); 1976 junior-welterweight Sugar Ray Leonard; 1992 lightweight Oscar De La Hoya; 1996 featherweight Floyd Mayweather Jr., and others. Then there were Olympic medalists who never quite made it to the big stage such as 1996 middleweight Rhoshii Wells and 2000 bantamweight Clarence Vinson.
At Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City last Saturday, 2004 USA Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward faced England’s Carl Froch in the Super Six Tournament Finale. I thought Ward nearly pitched a shutout but it seemed the scoring was a bit off with two judges having it 115-113 (7-5 in rounds) and the third coming in at 118-110 (10-2 in rounds). Boxing writer Bernard Fernandez, of the Philadelphia Daily News, was on target with a score of 118-111 (9-2 in rounds with one even). In my opinion Ward won 10 out of 12 rounds.
Ward is an athletic fighter who looked great. He may be the best super-middleweight around now. He out-schooled Froch by using his jab from the outside and by landing tight crisp shots on the inside.
Froch should have been a little rougher on the inside to throw Ward off his game plan. Instead, he let Ward get inside and gain control the fight from every angle. It looks like former Super-Six Tournament contender Andre Dirrell’s brother, Anthony Dirrell, is now the mandatory challenger for Ward. My money is on Ward.
I remember watching the Ward-Froch fight and wondering why it was not a bigger event in the United States. Ward does not have that Mike Tyson and Mayweather, Jr., cocky attitude. Instead, he has more of an De La Hoya and Leonard persona. Ward has very strong religious ties though and is very public about them and his nickname is “Son of God”, yet he does not attract veiwers.
Ward is the last USA fighter to bring the gold medal home and he is a marketable and likeable person. Yet the announced crowd was less than 6,000 and many in attendance received free tickets.
It is something that will never make sense to me. Why would so many, who claim they would never miss a mega fight, have no idea what else is going on in boxing. It is like watching the Super Bowl every year and having no idea what the teams went through to get there.
Why did the undercard consist of so many out-of-town fighters instead of local talent? If the undercard had been packed with local fighters, the promoter could have sold at least another 1,000 tickets.
Boxing is still a very lively sport, but over the years it has changed. If a sport, team, or athlete is not marketed correctly, the public loses interest. However, that should not take away from their achievements.
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Brittany Rogers contributes the BAM on Boxing column to PSC. You can also check her out, as well as everything else you need to know on Philly boxing, at PeltzBoxing.com. Follow Brittany on Twitter @bamonboxing and Peltz Boxing @PeltzBoxing.