In a sport where it is sometimes difficult to get two men with excellent reasons for fighting each other to sign on the dotted line for a single match, it was probably wishful thinking to expect Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic to come off without a hitch.
Getting a half-dozen of the world’s top super middleweights to commit to a tournament in the first place was a huge accomplishment. And while the initial wave of fights went pretty smoothly, there were bound to be a few hiccups along the way.
The first of those came when Jermain Taylor dropped out following his vicious knockout loss to Arthur Abraham. That was likely the right move for Taylor’s long-term health, and a suitable replacement was found in the form of Allan Green.
Scheduling the second wave of bouts has proven to be a bit problematic as well. Two fights were moved back a week from Apr. 17 to Apr. 24, and the other upcoming match was recently pushed back three weeks due to a back injury suffered by Andre Dirrell.
Now that the dust is settled, at least for the time being, it’s as good a time as any to see where we stand going into Phase Two of the round robin portion of the tournament:
Arthur Abraham (Super Six Record: 1-0, 1 KO, 3 pts.) vs. Andre Dirrell (0-1, 0 pts.) – Mar. 27, Site TBD
Originally slated for Mar. 6, this bout was rescheduled after Dirrell hurt his back while sparring. Promoter Gary Shaw seems confident his fighter will be ready by the new date.
The Agua Caliente casino resort was supposed to host the bout and could still end up with it, but there is also talk that it may be moved elsewhere. ESPN’s Dan Rafael has reported that it will remain in the U.S. regardless, which is the preference of both boxers.
Abraham sits atop the tournament standings with three points, scoring the lone knockout of the Phase One matches. He’s seen as no worse than the co-favorite by many fans and observers thanks to his blend of cautious defense and accurate power punching.
Dirrell gave Carl Froch fits in his first Super Six outing thanks to his hand speed and unorthodox (some would say dirty) tactics but ultimately dropped a split decision. The young American appears upbeat despite suffering his first professional defeat, but he’ll have a tough task ahead of him trying to solve the undefeated Abraham.
Carl Froch (1-0, 0 KOs, 2 pts.) vs. Mikkel Kessler (0-1, 0 pts.) – Apr. 24, MCH Messecentre, Herning, Denmark
Froch has an uncanny ability to do whatever it takes to win, and he’ll look to keep his career record spotless by beating Kessler. The Cobra wasn’t happy about the inconvenience the scheduling change created for his British fans, many of whom had already made travel plans, but the ever confident WBC titleholder has expressed no qualms about his chances of winning in Demark.
In contrast, Kessler is looking to rebound in front of what should be a raucous home crowd. He’s never lost in his native country, but his status as the pre-tournament favorite evaporated after a surprisingly noncompetitive loss to Andre Ward last November.
That defeat exposed Kessler’s lateral movement as a weakness, though Froch favors a more direct approach and is likely to stand right in front of him more often than not. Both men have above average power, and a knockout either way wouldn’t be a shock.
Andre Ward (1-0, 0 KOs, 0 pts.) vs. Allan Green (0-0, 0 pts.) – Apr. 24, Site TBD
It wasn’t made official until earlier this week, but it’s been known for some time that Green would get the call to step in for Taylor. Under the rules of the event, he’ll also take Jermain’s goose egg, though there’s still ample opportunity for him to earn enough points to finish in the top four and move on to the semifinals.
Unfortunately, he’ll be facing the man with the fastest-rising stock in Ward, who was relatively untested until his eye-opening performance against Kessler. The former Olympic gold medalist has long been thought to have all the tools to achieve stardom, and a deep run in the Super Six would certainly validate that opinion.
Green has power that can’t be ignored thanks to 20 stoppages in his previous 29 fights. His last chance to shine on a big stage came against Edison Miranda back in 2007, and though that night ended in a somewhat lackluster loss, the Tulsa, Oklahoma native has pointed to illness and an unwise drop to middleweight as the chief culprits.
The site for Ward-Green hasn’t been finalized, but it’s likely to take place in Ward’s hometown of Oakland, California, where he has drawn nice crowds in the past.