Ward a glorious new dawn?
Another chastening night for British boxing was a potentially great one for the sport in general as Andre Ward announced himself as a fighter of rare quality with a stunning dismantling of Carl Froch in Atlantic City.
How exactly two of the three ringside judges thought the American won by only two rounds is baffling in the extreme and it was left to Froch's fellow Englishman John Keane, who gave it to Ward by a landslide, to provide an accurate assessment of the bout.
Some Froch fans suspected Ward would come a cropper away from his cosy west coast base; some suspected Ward had been given an armchair ride through to the Super Six final; some suspected Froch would out-macho the slickster and bully him on the inside. Some could not have been further from the truth.
With the ageless Bernard Hopkins and five-weight world champion Floyd Mayweather nearing the end of their careers, American fight fans have been crying out for a boxer of Ward's class to emerge for quite some time. On the evidence of his latest triumph they can breathe a collective sigh of relief: the self-proclaimed "Son of God" has finally arrived.
Former Olympic champion Ward has not lost a fight since he was 12. Photo: Getty
Ward, who added Froch's WBC belt to the WBA title he already owned, might not have turned water into wine at the Boardwalk Hall, but he looked like he could have walked on the stuff if he had tried. As for Froch, there were times during the contest when he appeared to be praying for a Biblical miracle of his own: the calming of the storm, perhaps?
"I wanted to put my shots together, but he moves around, slips and slides," said Froch. "He's very good at that. And that's why it was a bad night for me."
Meanwhile, former Olympic champion Ward, who has not been beaten since he was 12, said he was surprised at how slow his rival was. In fairness to Froch, speed is relative, and Ward probably reckons light isn't as slick as it thinks it is.
The die was cast in the very first round, in which Ward strafed Froch with lacerating jabs and hooks. And when Ward backed Froch onto the ropes in the fourth, you knew there was only going to be one result. As Froch would later testify: "He's either up close smothering your work or he's too far out of range. I could never get my shots away."
Ward's technical prowess is a direct result of his impeccable amateur pedigree, a fact that is cause for celebration and despair. Celebration because it demonstrates that a solid grounding in the sport from an early age pays dividends when the vest comes off; despair because the American amateur scene is in a parlous state, with no medals at the 2008 Olympic Games and a solitary bronze at the recent World Championships in Baku.
Froch added that he could have beaten Ward "on a good night". But his good night would have to coincide with a very bad night for Ward. There is no shame in losing to the cream of the crop - as long as you give your all - and Ward proved he is among the creamiest operators out there.
It is unclear where Froch goes from here. He has spoken of avenging his defeat by Denmark's Mikkel Kessler and there was some talk immediately after his defeat by Ward of a fight with IBF title-holder Lucian Bute.
But a more intriguing match-up would be against Welshman Nathan Cleverly, the WBO light-heavyweight title-holder and Britain's sole surviving world champion following a dreadful run of defeats for British boxers in 2011.
Froch may be 34 but he has only had 30 fights, meaning he might have four or five left in him. The great Joe Calzaghe having eluded Froch, a clash with his compatriot Cleverly, possibly at the Millennium Stadium or Nottingham Forest's City Ground, could be of some consolation. It would certainly be a money-spinner, and at this stage in his career Froch only wants top-dollar fights.
As for Ward, he too may have to step up in search of the sort of blockbuster bouts his talents deserve. He could choose to unify the 168lb division by taking on Bute, but having proved beyond doubt he is the main man at super-middleweight with his demolition of Froch, any sane boxing fan would rather see him in with Hopkins or Chad Dawson instead.
Before the fight I suggested one of the reasons the Super Six tournament could not be considered an unbridled success was because it had not spawned a superstar. I could well have been wrong on that front. Although how was I supposed to know just how glorious the "Son of God" would be?