Giants

Undefeated Ward ready for May bout with Abraham

Undefeated Ward ready for May bout with Abraham

April 5, 2011

LOS ANGELES, (AP) -- Although the Super Six World Boxing Classic has become a ramshackle, sputtering vehicle in its final laps, Andre Ward is still determined to ride it to the finish line.

Ward recently announced he'll face Arthur Abraham at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on May 14 in the semifinals of a well-intentioned super middleweight tournament beset by injuries that led to the withdrawal of half the original field.

The turmoil hasn't slowed down Ward (23-0, 13 KOs): The Oakland native and Olympic gold medalist dominated his last three fights, emerged on the international boxing scene and became the favorite to win it all. England's Carl Froch meets Glen Johnson in the other semifinal in June, with the final expected late this year.

"Since this tournament started, my skin has got a lot thicker," Ward said. "I've just got to keep doing me. Just keep fighting, keep winning, and keep putting on spectacular performances for the fans."

Ward and Abraham appeared together at a promotional news conference in an Italian restaurant in Sherman Oaks, although Abraham (32-2, 26 KOs) attended by video link from Berlin, declining to interrupt his training with a flight to Los Angeles. Ward didn't let it shake him, grinningly posing with a life-size cardboard cutout of Abraham.

Rewind: Ward tops Bika, defends WBA title

Abraham was an unbeaten pre-tournament favorite, but the Armenian-born German's career took major hits with a disqualification loss to Andre Dirrell and a stunningly one-sided decision loss to Froch last year.

For all of its flaws and changes, Ward still believes the Super Six will propel him into greater fame and paydays. He expects a win over Abraham to set up a decisive fight with WBC champion Froch, and he's hoping to fight IBF champion Lucian Bute for the undisputed 168-pound title after the Super Six is settled.

Froch already has called out Ward, a thought that evokes a smirk from Ward.

"I'm going to give him what he's been asking for," Ward said.

Although Ward was criticized early in his pro career for his slow pace up the ladder following his gold medal triumph in the Athens Olympics, he believes everything was building to 2011. The only American gold medalist in the past three Olympics won the WBA's 168-pound belt with his stunning victory over Denmark's Mikkel Kessler to open the tournament in November 2009.

"This tournament sped me up," Ward said. "I knew I had to win right away. I couldn't build it up slowly anymore."

Ward is the only fighter who has emerged from the Super Six concept with his career enhanced and unscathed.

Related: Ward's former opponent sparring with Pacquiao

Froch lost to Kessler, who eventually cited injuries in withdrawing from the competition. Dirrell and Jermain Taylor also withdrew, essentially reducing it to a four-man tournament now with the addition of the tough veteran Johnson.

"No matter how the Super Six has progressed, I think it's a tremendous concept for boxing," said Dan Goossen, Ward's promoter. "I think everyone learned how tough it is to make great fights amongst the world's best fighters. It sometimes takes years and years to put together a fight that people want to see. It's taken some time, but it's been worth it."

Although Ward has career aspirations that include an eventual fight at heavyweight, he's hoping the Super Six title propels him into a fight with Bute, the best 168-pounder not in the Super Six field.

And even if everything works out as he plans, Ward won't forget the struggle that got him into position for a shot at this title.

"I have two more fights before I'm the best super middleweight in the world," Ward said. "And I plan on winning both of them."

Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster

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AP

Just a number? Longoria says slow down with concerns of Giants' aging roster

The Giants added two premier face of the franchise players this offseason in Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen. Together the two have combined for eight All-Star Game appearances. 

What they don't bring to San Francisco though, is youth. Longoria (32) and McCutchen (31) are the latest to join an again Giants roster. Buster Posey turn 31 in March, Johnny Cueto turns 32 in February, Hunter Pence turns 35 in April, Brandon Crawford turns 31 in January, and Brandon Belt turns 30 in April.

Father Time though, is far from getting Longoria and the rest of the Giants' stars according to the third baseman. 

"I believe that all of us believe we're in our prime and we are more than capable of competing," Longoria said Wednesday on KNBR. "That's just ways of making waves in the news. Our job is to just go out and do our job. I think we'll be just fine." 

Longoria is entering his 11th season in the big leagues. That has certainly added wear and tear on him, but also added knowledge of his body. 

"I'm definitely a different player," Longoria says now at 32 compared to 22. "There's a lot of ways that I prepare now that I didn't have to do or I didn't know how to do when I was a younger player. For me personally, it's going to be quite an experience."

While Longoria and McCutchen may not have the freshest pair of legs in baseball, they are two of the most durable players in the game. In 2017, both players appeared in 156 out of 162 games.

"Being prepared for the season is one thing and I know how to do that and I know how to get myself ready for that," Longoria said. "It's just a matter of the day in and day out homework so to speak that I'll have to do. That's gonna change based on the league and based on the division."

Gameday: De'Aaron Fox vs Donovan Mitchell in rookie showdown

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AP

Gameday: De'Aaron Fox vs Donovan Mitchell in rookie showdown

SACRAMENTO -- The Sacramento Kings return to Golden 1 Center for a one game stop before heading out for a season-long six game road trip. They’ll face a struggling Utah Jazz team that is 4-15 over their last 19 games.

Sacramento has gone young, choosing rotate veteran players for the final 40 games of the season. Zach Randolph and Vince Carter received the dreaded DNP-CD on Monday in OKC. Who will sit Wednesday at G1C?

Utah had the making of a contending team before Gordon Hayward and George Hill departed via free agency. They are rebuilding around rookie Donovan Mitchell, who has been nothing short of phenomenal in his first 41 games as a pro.

BETTING LINE

Jazz by 4

MATCHUP TO WATCH

De’Aaron Fox vs. Donovan Mitchell -- Fox is showing that he’s ready to take a major step for Sacramento. In seven games since returning from injury, the Kentucky product is posting 14 points and 6.4 assists and is now averaging in double-figures on the season. Mitchell has the run of the house in Utah and he’s taken full advantage. The 13th overall selection from the 2017 NBA Draft is in a dogfight for rookie of the year honors, scoring a huge 18.6 points in 31.4 minutes per game for Utah.

WHERE THEY STAND

Kings: 13-30, fifth place in Pacific

Jazz: 17-26, fifth place in Northwest

INJURY REPORT

Kings: PF Skal Labissiere (left shoulder strain) out, PG Frank Mason III (heel) out, F Harry Giles (bilateral knee rehab) out.

Jazz: C Rudy Gobert (knee) out, SF Thabo Sefolosha (knee) out, Dante Exum (shoulder) out.

THREE THINGS TO WATCH

Take Advantage of the Opportunity -- Sacramento’s youth movement is in full swing, but it comes with a bit of pressure. The 25 and under crowd has a 40 game audition to show that they are NBA regulars. Malachi Richardson and Justin Jackson have struggled to get consistent minutes, but when they get a chance, they need to stay aggressive and follow the game plan.

Show up at Home -- The Kings are about to embark on a six game road trip across the country beginning Friday in Memphis. It’s a one game homestand, but still an opportunity to build some momentum heading into a long stretch away.  

Snap the Streak -- Sacramento’s  lost five straight and 10 of their last 12 games. Utah is scuffling as well. If the Kings bring energy early, they might be able to ride the wave of the Golden 1 Center crowd and get back in the left hand column.

SERIES HISTORY

The Jazz took the season series 3-1 over the Kings last season. Utah leads the all-time series 102-82 and holds a 79-49 advantage during the Sacramento-era.

QUOTE

"Going forward, what I'm going to do is, we're going to play a rotation where two of our five veterans are going to be out every night. It might be some times there'll be three. It's an opportunity for some other guys to get some minutes as we go throughout the course of the season.” -Dave Joerger on the Kings’ youth movement