Let the fights begin

By Francis Walker, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: October 15, 2009

NEW YORK (BASN) — The Super Six: World Boxing Classic commences on Saturday from two separate locations in Europe. Four of the super middleweight division’s top six fighters will begin a series of round-robin, tournament-formatted bouts that will eventually lead to one crowned champion.

The Super Six: World Boxing Classic tournament is a unique idea headed by Ken Hershman, the Senior Vice President and General Manager of SHOWTIME Sports Programming. Hershman, along with boxing promoters Lou DiBella of DiBella Entertainment, Mark Hennessey of Hennessey Sports, Gary Shaw of Gary Shaw Productions, Dan Gooseen of Gooseen-Tutor Promotions, Wilfred and Kalle Sauerland of Sauerland Event, worked tirelessly in support of this one of a kind project.

What makes the tournament so special is the fact that every participant involved – former middleweight champions Arthur Abraham (30-0, 24 KOs) and Jermain Taylor (28-3-1, 17 KOs), unbeaten 2004 Athens Olympic medalists Andre Dirrell (18-0, 13 KOs) and Andre Ward (20-0, 13 KOs), along with current world super middleweight champions Carl Froch (25-0, 20 KOs) and Mikkel Kessler (42-1, 32 KOs) will have an opportunity to fight one another.

The way it works is that each of the three fighters will face once another in a series of round-robin matches in the Group 1 phase. Three points for a KO win. Two points for a decision win. One point will be issued for a draw.

A loss is worth zero points. The two fighters with the least amount of points will be eliminated. The final four will meet in the Group 2 – the semifinal round – with the last two remaining competitors meeting in Group 3 – the championship finale.

Abraham and Taylor will be matched on October, 17, from the O2 Arena in Berlin, Germany where Abraham will have a distinct advantage. Meanwhile, Froch, in defense of the WBC super middleweight title, meets Dirrell, an unbeaten top-contender from Froch’s hometown of Nottingham, England.

On November 21, Kessler travels to Ward’s hometown of Oakland, CA in defense of the WBA 168-pound championship.

Arthur Abraham vs. Jermain Taylor

Abraham will be moving up in weight from 160 pounds after having successfully defended his championship 10 times. In search of bigger challenges, Abraham couldn’t have made a bigger move than abandoning his lofty IBF title reign for a shot to fight one of the biggest names in the 168-pound class in Taylor.

“I want to be a star in America and the Super Six tournament will help me to accomplish my goals,” Abraham said. “I am thrilled to get started.”

Taylor earned plenty of recognition for having twice beaten Bernard Hopkins in 2005 – ending The Executioner’s 10-year grasp of the world middleweight championship. After wining the middleweight titles, Taylor was criticized for fighting “smaller” junior middleweight fighters like Cory Spinks and Kassim Ouma. When he finally fought a middleweight that could punch like Kelly Pavlik, Taylor crumbled under pressure.

Taylor enters the Super Six Classic with the most to prove because, he enters this tournament with the most losses (3) and he has dropped two of his last three by knockout.

“I’m ready to do battle and win by any means necessary,” Taylor said. “Every fighter has to be ready to do battle and go to war. I’m expecting a war and I’m prepared for it.”

In his last bout in April, Taylor challenged Froch for the WBC super middleweight title. Taylor dropped Froch in round three and appeared to be ahead on the judges scorecards heading into the final round. That was until Froch scored two knockdowns and KO’d Taylor with 14 seconds remaining in the fight.

Although the Super Six: World Boxing Classic is an opportunity to revitalize his career like none other, Taylor enters the tournament a wounded duck. Abraham, fighting at home in Germany should be comfortable and perform in peak condition. Abraham should win in style.

Carl Froch vs. Andre Dirrell

The fight between Froch and Dirrell may have started before both fighters enter the ring. This match is a stark contrast between Froch’s power and Dirrell’s speed. Froch will also have a tremendous hometown advantage, as the bout will occur in his hometown of Nottingham, England.

“I’m going to be gunning for him,” Froch said. “I’m going to be hitting him hard to the body early on and once he starts to slow down then I’ll drag him into a fight and we’ll find out what he’s got.”

Although Froch was a barely known commodity this time last year, Froch has proven to be one of the top super middleweight champions out there. No one paid attention to Froch because Joe Calzaghe, arguably one of the greatest super middleweight champions in history, ruled the 168-pound class.

Calzaghe won the WBO, WBA, WBC, and IBF titles. He beat Roy Jones, Jr., Mikkel Kessler, Jeff Lacy, and had 20 successful title defenses before moving up to light-heavyweight to beat Bernard Hopkins.

Froch proved his legitimacy to the WBC championship beating Jean Pascal to capture the vacant belt and surviving a knockdown, while coming from behind on the judges’ scorecards to knockout Taylor in the final seconds of the twelfth and final round.

Dirrell, a bronze medal winner at the 2004 Athens, Greece, had a stellar amateur career and is enjoying even more success as a professional. Although he has had only 18 professional bouts, Dirrell’s switch hitting style has caused fits for guys like Anthony Hanshaw, Victor Oganov, and Curtis Stevens.

Dirrell has a lot of speed and is physically gifted. However, Froch’s ability to dig deep to win fights as he has shown in bouts with Taylor and Pascal, as well as an unparalleled ability to punch can very well be the difference in the fight.

Also, Froch will be fighting in his native England for the 25th time in 26 professional bouts and will have a lot of momentum going for him.

“I’m glad he thinks it’s a slight advantage for him being at home because he’s going to need it,” Dirrell said. “I’m coming with my A game and I guarantee you that I will keep that crowd quiet and he will get lost for words by the third or fourth round.”

Bernard Hopkins gives back to Philly

Fighting for the first time since his dazzling 12-round thrashing of WBC/WBO middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik in October 2008, Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins (49-5-1, 32 KOs) returns home to Philadelphia on Wednesday, December 2, at the Liacouras Center at Temple University to battle Enrique Ornelas (29-5, 19 KOs).

The 12-round light-heavyweight championship bout will be televised live on VERSUS beginning at 8 p.m. ET.

“I’m thrilled about the opportunity to once again bring a fight to the city of Philadelphia,” Hopkins said. “A lot has changed in my career since I fought here six years ago and I want to give my fans the chance to see me fight again at home.”

“To top it off, a portion of the proceeds from this fight will go to three charities that are extremely important to me. December 2 is going to be a great night for boxing and a great night for Philadelphia.”

In addition to retuning to the ring, Hopkins also be fighting for a number of charitable causes.

One dollar from each ticket sold will be donated to three select charities: Make-A-Wish Foundation® of Philadelphia & Susquehanna Valley. Hopkins will donate in memory of one of his biggest fans Shaun Negler/ His last wish, before dying of brain cancer in 2008 at 18 years of age, was to see Hopkins fight Joe Calzaghe.

Money will also be given to The Hero Thrill Show, an annual day of events designed to raise money for the education of relatives of deceased police and fire personnel killed in the line of duty while protecting Philadelphia.

Lastly, one dollar will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. in memory of Hopkins’ deceased mother Shirley who suffered from breast cancer.

“Broad Street Brawl: Hopkins vs. Ornelas” is presented by Golden Boy Promotions East. Tickets priced at $200, $100, $75, $50 and $25, are currently on sale exclusively through ComcastTIX on line at ComcastTIX.com, by calling 1-800-298-4200 or in person at the Liacouras Center box office.