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Andre Ward Suffers a Mystery Cut, “Super Six” Final Postponed


In one of the freakiest of freak accidents, WBA super middleweight titleholder Andre “SOG” Ward suffered a cut over his right eye during a sparring session with stablemate Brandon Gonzales on Thursday. While he received immediate treatment from noted plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Wallace just hours after the injury, his October 29 showdown with fellow “Super Six” finalist Carl “The Cobra”  Froch will be postponed. While the “Super Six” has seen its share of ups, downs, postponements, dropouts, and a few mystery injuries, this one might be the oddest. While wearing full headgear including a protective bar across his face, Ward suddenly found himself bleeding.
 
“You know, it’s the strangest thing I have ever witnessed in my life,” Ward’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, told Maxboxing.com Friday morning. “It wasn’t a punch. It wasn’t an elbow. We were just boxing. All of a sudden, Brandon [Gonzales] said [Ward] was bleeding and as he walked back towards me, [Ward] had what I thought was a scratch on his nose. And I was saying to myself, ‘How on Earth did you get a scratch on your nose with this headgear on?’ So when I wiped it off and saw the eye, I was absolutely flabbergasted. ‘What on Earth could have caused this? Do you remember getting hit here?’ The punches were not going to go through that face bar or an elbow. So I took the headgear off expecting to find some sort of defect or something I didn’t know about but it was smooth as a baby’s butt. It was like an invisible man with an invisible razor was in here, my man. It was beyond explanation so with that, I let it go because there is nothing I can come up with. It is what it is.”

Immediately, Hunter called Dr. Wallace, no stranger to fighter injuries, having treated the nasty laceration to Vitali Klitschko’s face after his 2003 clash with Lennox Lewis.
 
“We called Dr. Paul Wallace, who I consider a great plastic surgeon. He is the one who sewed up the cut Vitali Klitschko had against Lennox Lewis. People always say [to Vitali], ‘You can’t see the scar and everything.’ He’s never had a problem with it, so I called Paul and he said, ‘Send him to me today. Package it and bandage him up and I will pick him up from the airport.’ So within two hours, [Ward] was on his way down there.”
 
Luckily for Ward, his cut was, in Wallace’s opinion, the best possible cut he could have suffered. It was a straight line with no jagged edges. To hear Hunter tell it, the stitch work was impeccable. In a press release by Showtime, Ward stated , "I’m extremely disappointed about this cut. We used every precaution including headgear with a face bar and it was just a fluke situation. My sparring partner and I were involved in an exchange inside and the next thing I knew, I was bleeding. That is the most frustrating thing about this-I don’t have an explanation for how it happened. This is very frustrating for my camp and I knew that if the shoe was on the other foot and Froch suffered an injury, I would be extremely disappointed.”
 
Naturally, now there will be critics. There will be some who will claim Ward was having a bad camp or was simply afraid of Froch. I asked Hunter for his response to such potential gossip. “I don’t worry about all of that stuff,” said Hunter. “That’s what critics are going to do. That’s what they are supposed to do. Showtime was there. It’s all on camera. Showtime’s “Fight Camp 360” was right there. [Critics] can say what they want to say. I don’t worry about critics. As a matter of fact, I don’t mind the critics just so they buy tickets.”
 
Considering his next comment, it is interesting to note Hunter and I spoke about 10:00 AM, Pacific Standard Time, Friday morning. The press release arrived in my inbox about 1:12 PM PST.
“I can appreciate Froch not saying anything about the eye,” said Hunter. “I remember he held up [the Arthur Abraham] fight due to the venue and then he had a back injury that no one was able to verify. That backed up [his fight] two months. We understand [Froch’s promoter] Eddie Hearn has to do what he has to do. I applaud him for being a promoter, good or bad, true or false. [As for Froch,] I applaud him for being quiet in the matter.”
 
According to the press release, Froch said, “This is absurd and unprofessional. Ward needs to get his act together. Of course, you’ve got to take the medical advice seriously, but for a cut to put you out of a fight a full five weeks before the event is ludicrous. If it were two weeks out from the fight, maybe I’d understand. But he’s got 35 days to deal with it. To me, he’s showing his weakness. Nothing changes for me. I’ll be ready if and when he shows up."  
 
Said Hearn in the release, "Obviously it is frustrating. Carl’s camp has gone perfectly and we were ready to unify the titles on October 29. Carl is in the shape of his life but he is a true professional and will take this in his stride and be ready for victory on a date given in 2011."
 
"Not much you can say," said Ward’s promoter, Dan Goossen. "Andre was cut. He got stitched up and he’ll be back as soon as possible." Both Ward and Hunter echoed the same sentiments regarding all the participants.
 
"I’d like to express my apologies to Showtime, the fans and the Froch camp, but this is part of boxing,” said Ward. “Ward and Froch will still get it on but unfortunately, the date just has to be pushed back."
As things stand, the fight is postponed with Ward going back to L.A. next Thursday to get his stitches removed. From there, a medical clearance date and healing timetable will be determined.
"We were in full camp and counting down the days until October 29,” said Ward. “At this point, I’m looking forward to healing up and getting a new date to finish what I started and become the ‘Super Six’ champion."
 
Ruminating on the injury once more, Hunter said with a tone of incredulity, “It’s beyond explanation. I wish I could say he took an elbow, a punch. I wish I could say that.”
 
Showtime’s Ken Hershman, who created the “Super Six” and has weathered each storm it wrought, said, "Injuries in boxing are inevitable at this, the highest level of competition. As we’ve done since this tournament’s inception, we’ll forge ahead. We are seeking available dates at this time and hope to have an announcement shortly. Rest assured, we will deliver this dramatic final tournament bout, one that is surely the biggest fight in this division’s history."
 
There will be critics of this seemingly ill-fated tournament but when all is said and done, it brought us memorable fights on a faster timetable than most divisions usually do. If you really think about it, there are very few champions, much less top fighters ,who can say they faced the kind of competition in the “Super Six” in this timetable. That alone is an accomplishment. At least in this writer’s opinion, I believe we will get the fight and the ending we were hoping for.
 
You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him on each Monday’s episode of “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 PM PST. Gabriel is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.


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