No one said an undertaking like Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic was going to be easy.
Truthfully, it was almost a miracle it ever came together in the first place.
Ten years from now, we’re probably going to look back and wonder how six of the world’s top super middleweights, represented by almost as many different promoters, ever agreed to face off in a tournament.
The Super Six beat the odds just by existing, but most boxing pundits agreed that there were many things that could go wrong.
And over the course of the last year, plenty of them have done just that.
Jermain Taylor dropped out after just one fight, following a scary knockout at the hands of Arthur Abraham; Allan Green was brought in as a replacement but looked bad against Andre Ward, then found himself without an opponent for the last stage of the round robin, when Mikkel Kessler withdrew due to an eye injury.
Several fights were delayed due to training mishaps. The locations of the bouts became a bone of contention, after boxers fighting at home got the nod from the judges in every decision.
Despite shaking off all of those blows, the Super Six finally looked like it may be down for the count a few weeks ago: Carl Froch begged off from his October 2 date with Abraham thanks to a wonky back, and a new date was not immediately announced.
At the same time, Ward’s clash with Andre Dirrell, supposedly set for September 25, was in a strange limbo; though not officially canceled, no site was agreed upon, no negotiations seemed to be taking place, and reports circulated that Showtime was threatening legal action against the promoters to try to get the fight to move forward.
Yet, just as the epitaphs were being readied for the Super Six and perhaps boxing tournaments in general, a welcome announcement came last week: the tournament is still alive.
Though the details aren’t finalized, the plan is for Froch-Abraham and Ward-Dirrell to both take place on November 27. Helsinki, Finland is the frontrunner to host the former, while a site for the latter is still to be determined.
Green will also get another fight and is mathematically still alive to advance to the semifinals if he wins by knockout and gets some help in the other fights. It does not appear his opponent will inherit Kessler’s point total.
The survival of the Super Six is good news for boxing fans on two continents.
Froch-Abraham should be a hot ticket with European fans, with both men capable of ending the fight by KO and extra intrigue arising from the fact that both are attempting to rebound from their first career defeats.
Ward and Dirrell have both been impressive and are two of the top young talents in the U.S. If they can set aside their friendship—something heavily rumored to be a sticking point in making the fight—they’re capable of putting on quite a show.
Saving the tournament also means fans can look forward to three more quality fights in 2011, in the form of the semifinals and final.
Whoever wins it all should be hailed as a legitimate star, and it’s easy to envision the winner facing off against Kessler or Canadian star Lucian Bute late next year in bouts that could draw big money in the right locations.
Because of all the moving parts, we might not see anyone attempt anything as ambitious as the Super Six again in the near future. Showtime has announced a bantamweight tournament, but it’s a smaller, single elimination affair.
That doesn’t mean the Super Six isn’t a worthy experiment. It certainly is in my mind, and I’ll be rooting for it to stay on track until its conclusion.