Some observations from Stage 1:
- Perhaps the biggest news of Stage 1 of the tournament was that Stage 1 of the tournament actually took place.
Putting together three fights without anyone pulling out due to injury, having a sanctioning body force a champion to drop out to fight a mandatory against Dingo Schleprock, or having a manager pull a fighter because he didn’t like the color of the gloves he was going to have to wear was quite the accomplishment.
- After watching Lucian Bute flea-smack Librado Andrade, unquestionably one of the most durable fighters in the sport, whoever walks away with the Super Six trophy is going to have to attend one more meeting in the boardroom before declaring himself CEO of the division.
- Tiger Woods strolling through a Paparazzi convention with a porn actress on his arm wouldn’t be as shot as Jermain Taylor is.
- I’m still not quite certain how to pronounce Carl Froch’s last name. At first I thought it to be “Frock”. I’ve heard some Brits calling him “Frotch”. And Max Kellerman recently referred to him as “Frosh”. Call him what you will, but the one thing you won’t be calling him after this is over is the Champion of the Super Six World Boxing Classic.
Although I thought Andre Dirrell narrowly beat Froch, I think he took the wrong strategy into the ring against him. It’s not a good idea to run against Froch.
Froch has two things going for him inside the ropes—his pressure style and those long Cro-Magnon arms of his. Running from him allows him to apply that pressure and extend those arms.
And running just doesn’t fly with some judges, who will give the benefit of any close round to the fighter who is pressing the action. Especially in this case with the fight taking place on Froch’s back porch.
Dirrell would have been wise to make like Bernard Hopkins against Kelly Pavlik. B-Hop was expected to move and counterpunch, as he generally does.
But rather than moving away and letting Pavlik get his pressure game rolling, Hopkins nipped the pressure in the bud by fighting at close range where he knew he could out-quick and out-technocize Pavlik.
Take away fighters like Pavlik’s and Froch’s ability to apply pressure and you’re left with stationary fighters without great hand speed or overly impressive technical skills.
Not an easy task, but when you've got the quickness and skills to pull it off, there are worse strategies a fighter could use. Like running.
- Judging by Arthur Abraham’s style alone, you wouldn’t suspect that he’s 31-0. He spends most of his time standing around the ring with his ears in his gloves. His attacks are sporadic. But he’s got a hell of a wicked hook.
And his punches are sharp and accurate. We still don’t know how his funk-ass style and bodacious hook will compute against the top fighters in the tournament, but he sure makes me want to be there to find out.
- Either Mikkel Kessler doesn’t quite have the talent that was portrayed in the movie preview, has it but wasn’t allowed to carry it on with him on his flight from Denmark, or was just outclassed by a potentially massive boxing talent. I’m going with the option No. 3 entrée with a small side order of option No. 1.
- What we knew about Andre Ward coming into the tournament was that he had been being brought along slowly as a pro and had scarcely lost a round in 20 fights. His one real test came against Edison Miranda and he made Miranda look like a freshman getting a 36-minute swirlie.
It was a bit surprising to see him take a tune-up fight, against someone named Shelby Pudwill, just two months before the Kessler fight. But with the motivation of the Super Six Tourney and Kessler ahead of him—as if the thought of getting his ass beat on Showtime by a guy named Shelby Pudwill wasn’t motivation enough—he made quick work of the S-Pud.
There isn’t much to say about Ward ruining Kessler in their fight that Ward didn’t already say with his hands and feet. (And occasionally his head, but those had no effect on the outcome of the fight.)
My rankings going into the tournament were:
After Stage 1 they are:
Predictions for Stage 2
Mikkel Kessler vs. Carl Froch
Unless Kessler had the rivets knocked out of him by Ward, I see him beating Froch by decision. Kessler is better technically, has better hand speed and will be fighting on his home court in Copenhagen. And he has the durability to deal with whatever Froch brings.
Joe Calzaghe and Ward, Kessler’s only two conquerors in 44 fights, were slick and elusive fighters. Those who have been there to be hit have been graciously obliged by Kessler, as will Froch on April 17.
Andre Dirrell vs. Arthur Abraham
It’s hard not to make Abraham the favorite here, but I see Dirrell as a live underdog if there ever was one. He is the quickest and most athletically gifted of the Super Six. Although he’s got technical flaws and questionable ring sense, his superior agility will make this a highly competitive matchup.
I see the first half of the fight going well for Dirrell. Although at some point in the evening, Abraham will force him to start engaging. If he gets on his motor scooter like he did against Froch, it won’t bode well for him.
But if he can rack up the early rounds and maintain something resembling an offense while using effective movement to keep Abraham at bay late, he just may end up getting the curtsy from the judges.
Andre Ward vs. Jermain Taylor
This seems like an easy call and it should be. Ward is at the top of most people’s Super Six rankings and Taylor is at the bottom. I see Ward’s hand speed and lateral movement being too much for anything that Taylor can offer at this stage of his career.
I’m guessing that the first half of the fight will be competitive, as all of Taylor’s fights have been, before Jermain does his obligatory fade at or about mid-fight. I’m picking Ward by solid decision although it’s not unlikely that he knocks Taylor out. Everyone else does.