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Ward, Green ready to prove people wrong

Story by Robert Hough
Photos by Laura de la Torre

Andre Ward and Allan Green said Wednesday they’re out to prove that some perceptions—that Ward’s not tough and Green’s not a boxer—are wrong.

The super-middleweights met for the first time at an Oakland, Calif., press conference three days before their fight wraps up the second round of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic.

“People think I’m just a big puncher, that I’ve got a great left hook and that’s it,” Green (29-1, 20 KOs) said after the event at Oracle Arena, site of the fight which will be televised on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET/PT. “That’s not true. I’m a pure boxer and people are going to see that. Andre Ward’s going to see that. I do know how to box and I do know how to think in the ring. If people think I’m going out there to pot-shot him and take him out with one punch, they’re wrong. I wasn’t a national (amateur) champion for nothing.”

Ward (21-0, 13 KOs), described by Green as a hummingbird, said his approach is based on speed and smarts, but he’ll hit people and hurt them.

“I don’t think people realize what’s inside of me,” the WBA champ said. “I’ve got a lot of desire in me. I don’t know if Allan Green wants this belt as much as I want to keep it, but if he does, it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

It’s less fun than it could and should be, from the perspective of Lou DiBella, Green’s promoter. DiBella couldn’t attend the event due to a family illness, but Ron Rizzo, an associate, read a statement from DiBella contending that there were shenanigans with the choice of a California referee, Raul Caiz.

DiBella, according to the statement, understood that he and Dan Goossen, Ward’s promoter had agreed that a Nevada referee would be the third man in the ring.

Goossen, who denied the contention, said he had repeatedly tried to contact DiBella and agree on a mutually acceptable referee. He added that the judges will be from California, Mexico and Connecticut.

Green, who has toned down his talk as the fight’s drawn nearer, acknowledged that it can’t help him to fight in Ward’s hometown with a referee from California.

“Every fighter and promoter knows it makes a difference,” he said. “It may not make a big difference, but it usually makes a little difference.”

It won’t make a difference in this fight, Green vows, because it won’t be close enough that Ward might get a hometown edge in refereeing or on the scorecards.

“We can get judges and a referee from anywhere,” the 30-year-old said. “It will not matter.”

Green promised to take action if there’s too much of what he sees as Ward’s hit-and-hold style and no warnings or point deductions.

“His style is to hit and hold and a good referee won’t let a fighter do that all the time, but I’m ready for anything,” said Green, who trained in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area on Wednesday morning. “Whatever Ward wants to do, I’ll have something for him. If there’s too much holding, I’ll lose the point and slam him on his face.”

Whether or not Ward’s holding more than Green thinks is legal, he does pose a serious challenge, the Tulsa, Okla., native and resident said.

“He’s a good young fighter,” said Green who described his plan as one of being aggressive in a strategic manner. “He’s active; he’s always doing something, but I know how he fights and I’m ready.”

Oddsmakers and pundits have given Green little chance of winning, a refrain that sounds familiar to Ward.

“A lot of people didn’t think I could beat Kessler and we know how that went,” the 26-year-old said. “I’ve always said that in preparing for Allan Green, I’m preparing for a beast.”

Ward can fight like a rabid dog, said his trainer, Virgil Hunter, but there’s no point in doing so.

“To the untrained eye, it looks like finesse, but everything we do, we do with speed,” Hunter said. “Andre doesn’t have the DNA of a warrior. He’s not going to try to be Superman and realize afterward, ‘I should have boxed.’”

John David Jackson, Green’s trainer, is hoping for something different.

“We don’t want any sticking and grabbing and running and moving,” said Jackson, a former champion at 154 and 160 pounds.

What Jackson wants and what he gets might well be two different things, Ward said.

“I’ve never taken anyone lightly or fought foolishly,” said Ward, who was relaxed and quick to smile throughout the 90-minute event. “That’s how I got to where I am and I’m not about to change my approach.”

Ward, who could be cranky in the days before his fights a few years ago, said his pre-fight attitude has improved.

“I’m learning how to be at this level,” he said. “I used to think I had to be tense and angry, but I’ve realized that’s just wasting energy.”

About 80 hours before the bell rings, Ward said he was calm, focused and ready.

“It’s time to go to work and this is what I do best,” he said.

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