And Then There Were Three-The Demise of The Showtime Super Six
Take out your photoshop shears and saw off the right side from the middle of the above photograph, a scarily eerie sequential grouping portending the fate of this acclaimed elimination tourney launched with much fanfare.
There was hope for all the parties involved, not withstanding expectations of boxing fans everywhere. Oddsmakers quickly put together their numbers and folks lined up on the side of their favorites. Sleeping nationalistic fervors were fired up and internet boxing forums were buzzed as the prefight debates and squabbles commenced.
Even the casual viewing general public stood up to take notice, proving that boxing is not yet dead in the hearts and minds of the larger populace just yet. This was a new world order shaping up the boxing world where 3 Americans and one Dane, Brit, and German apiece were mixed and matched in a dream come true, the best fighting the best.
- The Fates Plot
Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men get dashed so easily in the grand scheme of things once The Fates of Perchance enter the picture.
In perfect sequential order as per the photo, Jermain Taylor, Mikkel Kessler, and Andre Dirrell have dropped out of the tourney citing the bane of boxers everywhere, neurological problems.
Blame meisters are of course in overdrive trying to assign the blame for the collapse of the tourney, but technically, the tourney is still on with replacement fighters Allan Green and Glen Johnson selected to replace Jermain Taylor and Mikkel Kessler respectively.
Showtime should instead be applauded for aspiring to such a grand idea that elevated the worldwide profile of boxing. So what if they fell short because of inherent structural problems involved in organizing a promoter controlled sport of brutal consequences? It was a wonderful learning experience that they can utilize as they launch their new Super Six Bantamweight Tourney.
Nobody is claiming that Super Six tourneys are the solution to boxing’s woes, but it is a nice piece of creative organizing that with a little luck, will open up promoters, broadcasters and boxers to better work with each other for better fights.
There are legitimate criticisms of course, the overriding one being the blatant home favoritism that has seen every visiting fighter losing with the taint of incompetent officials too often spoiling the show. Perhaps, tellingly, the venues have too often turned out to be small potato type hometown low attendance type locales for such a high profile global tourney.
Why are they fighting in Nottingham, England, Oakland, California, and Detroit, Michigan for example? Froch, Ward, and Dirrell have little local following and would be best served up in Las Vegas or London where their names and publicity would resonate more.
And what of the fates of the fighters you might ask?
Jermaine Taylor at age 32 was the first to drop out, but he has had a fine career with great earnings if he chooses to retire. Twelve of his last 13 fateful fights have been against past, present, or future champions. All four of his losses have come in his last 5 fights against prime, very strong, murderous punching undefeated fighters. If not the end of the road for him, the end surely must be near.
Mikkel Kessler followed Taylor, yet started the tourney as the favorite, and at age 31, he’s has had the longest professional career with a record of 43-2. As a 3x champion with great earnings, the end of his prime may be near with him still relatively intact. No sob stories yet, but that’s assuming his eyesight will return to normal.
Andre Dirrell is the latest dropout, a relative novice at age 27 with a 19-1 record. This was supposed to be where his career flowered, but his sole win in the tourney also saw him splattered incomprehensible on the canvas after Arthur Abraham was finished with him. It would be a shame for him, his family, and his team if this was the end of the road. His style is not to take punishment, so it could be that once his chin was finally cracked, the problems will only start to cascade. Every fighter has a limited time, so I leave those decisions to him and his advisors.
Arthur Abraham is still a strong favorite to win the tourney, and at age 30 with a 31-1 record, he’s had a fine career and earnings and seems well poised with the fearsome reputation of having knocked his first two opponents out of the tourney. One could easily imagine him doing the same to Carl Froch in his next bout.
Carl Froch at age 33 started as the elder statesman who has had a fine warrior type of career thus far, but not the big earnings and acclaim he might have hoped for as a British champion. He seems to have been shaken up by his loss to Kessler and perhaps sees the end of his own prime slipping away in the undertow of the tsunami of formidable talent washing over this tourney. We shall see.
Andre Ward at age 26 is the baby of the tourney with a perfect record of 22-0 still intact as Dirrell, Abraham, and Froch have seen the first nicks on their records. Ward has been the biggest winner of the tourney as far in jumping the ratings, but has shown some serious cracks in the façade that still sees him as a regional California fighter with a small following in spite of being the last US Olympic Boxing Gold Medalist. Probably the oddsmakers have him down as the favorite now, but that may change if he is ever pried out of his hometown and forced into a fight under neutral conditions.
Allen Green at age 31 is still waiting for his career to take off. The public was last seen waiting for him to throw a meaningful punch at Andre Ward, and may still be waiting after Glen Johnson finishes with him.
Glen Johnson at age 41 and record of 50-14-1, gives some serious gravitus to the tourney IF he can reduce down to the 168 lb weight limit. He has to be The People’s Choice of the tourney now and truly the pre-eminent road warrior of his era…..Have Gloves-Will Travel.
Insert the next replacement to fight Andre Ward here___________. Showtime is scrambling to find a suitable replacement to carry on. Good luck.
So, perhaps the rumors of the death of the Showtime Super Six are premature, but it’s been a grand experiment, so surely boxing enthusiasts can better appreciate the logistics of making credible fights when so much is at stake.