Saturday, Oct. 17, sees the opening of the Super Six World Boxing Classic, an event which the BBC's Ben Dirs is hailing as "that rare thing, a triumph of common sense and concord in boxing." The tournament will see six of the wolrd's best super middleweight fighters battle it out in a round-robin contest over two years, with only one man remaining victorious.
As part of this momentous event, MCM will be previewing and predicting the upcoming fights, beginning with Saturday's opening bouts: Carl Froch vs. Andre Dirrell in Nottingham, England, and Jermain Taylor vs. Arthur Abraham in Berlin, Germany.
Bout 2: Froch vs Dirrell
One of the alluring features of the Super Six World Boxing Classic is that in pitching six of the world's top ten middleweights against one another, the tournament is providing boxing enthusiasts with so many intriguing style match-ups that involuntary salivation has become the order of the day.
Case in point: Jermain Taylor, an experienced, intelligent and rangy boxer, and Arthur Abraham, a former middleweight powerhouse out to show that he can shake the foundations of the big boys in the Super Six.
Let's look at the attributes of both before settling on the possible outcome.
Jermain "Bad Intentions" Taylor
Of all of the US contenders in this contest, Taylor (28-3-1, 17 KOs) is certainly the best known, but perhaps the least favorite of the tournament. With high profile losses against Kelly Pavlik and Carl Froch, many see this as Taylor's swan song in the higher echelons of one of boxing's deepest divisions.
Taking this position is not entirely unjust. Although one of his generation's most talented fighters, his record against top opposition has been patchy.
Nevertheless if we are to learn anything while tuning into the Super Six World Boxing Classic, it is that losses shouldn't necessarily equate to the end of fighter's career. Sure, Taylor hasn't always produced the magic against the best; but he's rolled with enough of them to make him a serious contender in this tournament.
Chief amongst the critiques of Taylor is the issue of stamina. Yet he insists - as he has before - that he has fully addressed this problem in training. And for some reason, I believe him. He appeared comfortable in making the weight and has looked good in press workouts.
Does it remain a concern? Of course. It has been his downfall in too many important fights, most recently in his final minute loss to Carl Froch last April, despite his leading the fight on two of the three judges' scorecards.
And Abraham is the sort of powerful, athletic fighter that can push him beyond the middle rounds, just as Froch did.
Still, Taylor has the speed - perhaps his greatest asset - to upset Abraham. If he uses this effectively he should be able to fire off triple jabs and stick with combinations before the German - the smallest man in the tournament - can get back into range with counters.
And finally, I'd like to think that Talyor can actually use some of his ring experience this time around. The acumen he's developed, in combination with his natural height and speed advantage, should surely push him beyond the level of underdog in this fight.
"King" Arthur Abraham
For most US viewers, Arthur Abraham (30-0, 24 KOs) is best known as the Ring Magazine's top middleweight fighter and the man most have wanted to see in the ring against Kelly Pavlik.
His struggles with the middleweight limit have been well documented, so his inclusion in this tournament hasn't come as much of a surprise. However, many will be eager to see if he can carry his famed power into that extra poundage.
Most known outside of Europe for his well earned victories over Edison Miranda, Abraham has also put away solid middleweights such as Howard Eastman, Kingsley Ikeke, Raul Marquez and Kofi Jantuah.
Those names might not match the markings on Taylor's resume (Hopkins, Spinks, Wright, Lacy), but Abraham is already being considered a very real prospect in this tournament.
Carrying a typically high European defense, he appears to wait out rounds before he has his opponents figured out. Then, as they settle into a comfortable rhythm, he'll rock them back with straight jabs and devastating cross shots. Few have lived to tell the tale beyond the middle rounds.
If anything is going to upset Taylor it is this: Abraham's raw power is not of the sort that can be taken lightly upon the body or chin. Should he execute his punches as accurately as he has thus far, Taylor is going to need to produce the sort of resolve that we have yet to see...thus far.
Can Abraham steam-roll Taylor as he has so many before him? Certainly.
But the question will be whether he can get in range to do so.
Prediction: Abraham TKOs Taylor in Round 11
Few see Taylor winning this fight, but my instinct says that he can and should do it.
But can he, really?
The reality is this: he has the speed to evade Abraham, but he hasn't the power to keep him at bay; he is a determined, willful champion, but he has also crumbled under extreme pressure; he can take big punches, but he can't take them when they are delivered consistently round after round.
Countering my instinct, I believe that Abraham will eventually work his way into range and start to deliver the punches that will knock Taylor off his game.
His high hands-low elbow defense should keep him fresh into the middle rounds as Taylor tires, and it is at this point that Abraham will exert a consistent jab, left hook and straight right to shake up Taylor's game. It may not be original, but I see Abraham following Froch's approach in pushing his man into the later rounds, eventually forcing Taylor's corner to stop the fight in 11.
My prediction is the result of insight, instinct, and research. But whether or not I'm correct, the beauty of the Super Six World Boxing Classic is both Froch and Dirrell will live to fight again. I encourage you all to tune and enjoy what is certain to be an important, thrilling night of boxing.