More than what was bargained for

By Francis Walker, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: April 10, 2010

NEW YORK (BASN) — The Super Six: World Boxing Classic is more than what boxing fans, promoters, and even the tournament’s host network SHOWTIME has bargained for.

The initial Group Stage Round- Robin Wing of the tournament isn’t even halfway completed and already we’ve witnessed lots of action and dramatic life-changing events.

Three fighters have lost their undefeated records. We’ve also seen a disqualification, an injured and perhaps damaged fighter. Also, one professional career may have already been ended by a fatal knockout blow.

“Lots of developments and unexpected twists and turns,” said Dan Goossen who promotes WBA super middleweight champion and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward. “It’s getting closer and closer to see who makes it to the semifinals.”

One unexpected twist and turn was former undefeated IBF middleweight champion Arthur Abraham’s impressive twelfth-round knockout of former world middleweight champion Jermain Taylor in a Group Stage 1 contest in October.

The loss may have spelled the end of Taylor’s career after having been knocked out for the fourth time in five fights. That is why super middleweight title-contender Allan Green has been named as an immediate replacement.

Abraham, the leading point-scorer in the entire tournament, emerged as a clear favorite. However, in another ‘twist and turn,’ as he was disqualified during the eleventh round of an overall dazzling performance by 2004 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell in March.

Entering the Abraham fight and facing possible elimination, Dirrell was desperate for a win. Dirrell, fighting at home at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, MI, Dirrell amazingly knocked Abraham down in the fourth round. The Michigan statesman was in solid command of the fight and had Abraham beat both physically and mentally.

“In the Abraham fight, he proved his maturity, skill, and power,” Shaw said of Dirrell. “He showed he can go up and down on a fighter. He did all of the things that led him to win that night. He proved to his family, he proved to the fans, and he proved to himself that he emerged as the leader of the tournament. It was a masterpiece.”

Dirrell’s performance has to be considered “a masterpiece” until Abraham was on the verge of mounting a huge comeback. It was in round eleven when a fatigued Dirrell slipped and was on the canvas when Abraham leveled him with a right hook to the jaw that knocked him out.

Unable to continue, Abraham was DQ’d for an intentional foul that perhaps seriously hurt Dirrell. The former U.S. Olympic bronze medal winner didn’t know where he was after the fight and actually thought he lost by knockout. Dirrell was diagnosed with having a concussion and was held at a local hospital for three days.

“Andre Dirrell beat the shit out of Arthur Abraham for eight straight rounds except for one,” said Dirrell’s promoter Gary Shaw. “He was winning going into the tenth – all three judges had Dirrell ahead in the fight.”

With Dirrell on the scoreboard with 2 points, Shaw is very confident that his fighter has what it takes to win the Super Six World Boxing Classic.

“I think Andre Dirrell is the most skilled, pure athlete,” said Dirrell’s promoter Gary Shaw. The decision in England is argumental. It was the first big fight he’s had overseas as a professional.”

Shaw was referring to Dirrell’s razor-thin split-decision loss to WBC super middleweight champion Carl Froch in the first Group Stage bout in October. Dirrell traveled to Froch’s native Nottingham, England and was outpointed by margins of 112-115 (twice) and 114-113. It was a close fight, as Dirrell’s southpaw, slick-boxing style neutralized Froch’s punch-output.

Another unexpected ‘twist and turn’ was Ward’s dominant 11-round technical decision win against Kessler in November. Kessler, the overall favorite by many boxing scribes (except this writer) to win the Super Six Classic, traveled to Ward’s native Oakland, CA and was beaten decisively.

Ward was a former gold medal winner. It was his first world title shot and appeared eager and ready to dethrone whoever was champion. What people failed to realize was that Ward’s amateur background has prepared him to eventually fight guys like Kessler. As proven, Kessler was simply a target in Ward’s path toward winning a world title.

“It’s something about that amateur background,” Goossen said of Ward’s boxing training. “Going through that Olympic movement and overcoming odds to win the gold medal. He is a well-skilled fighter.”

Should Ward defeat Green (Taylor’s replacement) in June, Ward could either tie Froch for the overall lead if he beats Kessler. That would bring Abraham to third place in the standings. Kessler, should he lose to Froch, could be on the verge of elimination at 0-2.

A Ward victory over Green is no lock either. Ward might not be 100% because, he recently had surgery to repair damaged ligaments in his knee. Some people believe that Ward’s fight against Green is a “bad style” match-up for the champion because Green has explosive power.

“Allan Green seems to see himself as being the best competitor to upset the apple cart with is power,” said Green’s promoter Lou DiBella. “Allan wants whatever fight I can get him.”

Ward-Green was pushed back from March to June after the WBA champion had suffered an injury to his knee while he was out on vacation with his family.

“He went on vacation with his family and when he came back, he moved into a new home. Then he immediately went back into heavy training and hurt his knee,” Goossen added.

Goossen isn’t worried about Ward’s injury and believes that he will win the tournament. Mick Hennessey, who promotes Froch, the WBC 168-pound titlist, believes that his fighter will win the World Boxing Classic as well.

Hennessey has no fear and isn’t worried about Froch traveling to Denmark to battle former WBA titlist Mikkel Kessler in his hometown.

“No, not at all,” Hennessey said. “I’m definitely sure about Carl Froch’s chances of winning the tournament. The biggest test for Carl was when he came to Connecticut. For Carl Froch to do what he did – defended his title, and nearly went all twelve rounds. That was very difficult.”

Hennessey was referring to Froch’s U.S. debut at Foxwoods Resort and Casino on April 24, last year. Making the first defense of the WBC super middleweight championship, Froch survived a third round knockdown to rally from behind on two of the official judges’ scorecards to knockout out Jermain Taylor with just 14 seconds remaining in the final round.

“Carl Froch is a consummate professional,” Hennessey added. “He always prepares the same for every fight. He knows and understands that Kessler is motivated for this fight. He had a hard night at the office against Andre Ward.”

“He considers Kessler to be a warrior,” Hennessey stated.

The Standings

Arthur Abraham (1-1) 3 points

Carl Froch (1-0) 2 points

Andre Ward (1-0) 2 points

Andre Dirrell (1-1) 2 points

Mikkel Kessler (0-1) 0 points

Allan Green (0-0) 0 points

A victory is equivalent to 2 points. A win by knockout is one bonus point. A loss is equal to zero points. The top four fighters with the highest point totals after all three Group Stage, Round-Robin bouts have been completed will advance into the semifinal round when the format of the tournament shifts to single elimination.

Should Froch and/or Ward win their next scheduled bout, Abraham will be replaced as the leading fighter.

The Super Six: World Boxing Classic can only been seen live on SHOWTIME. The next installment of the tournament will pit Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler on Saturday, April 24, in Denmark beginning at 9 PM/ET.

NOTE: For more information, go to SHO – World Boxing Classic.