Tag Archives: carl froch

The Star Crossed Rematch of Carl Froch vs George Groves

After much ado and hue and cry ’til they blanched blue, Carl Froch and George Groves were brought spitting and sputtering to a press conference by their promoter, Barry Hearn, that officially announced their May 31st rematch at the reknown Wembley Stadium in London . The rival super-middleweights had choice words for one another ahead of the fight that astoundingly sold out the allotted 60,000 tickets within one hour of them going on sale.

Minting Money

Minting Money

To rehash the previous encounter, Groves showed up to fight and surprised Froch with an early knockdown that he quickly recovered from. From then on Froch slowly built up the pressure on Groves before carving him up for the knockout only to have the hapless referee Howard John Foster stop the fight prematurely to a monumental British controversy, a permanent state of being for boxing no matter the geographic location it would appear.

Groves should thank his lucky stars for the controversy that in turn generated what will be the biggest British rematch by the purse and gate numbers in many long moons that has made him front page news. The essence of the first bout still remains a bitter pill for Groves who has accomplished much less in the ring compared to the battle tested Froch. Groves must improve greatly to win, not a given, yet all Froch has to do is be himself again, plenty good enough for their first go round and he might well exceed that performance this time around.

Win, lose, or draw, one thing is certain. Be lots of big money lost on the fighters to be gained by the bookies, and lots of big money won to be paid out by the bookies. Such is the short life span of an all time prize fight, the essence of boxing and the essence of these two bitter rivals in their biggest British moment ever.

Montreal Iced Over~~Lucian Bute vs Jean Pascal

The NABF light heavyweight title Lucien Bute won from Denis Grachev in 2012 is up for grabs for the first “big” fight of 2014, Saturday, January 18th in Montreal at the Bell Centre. There’s no hometown advantage as both fighters enjoyed their greatest success there as very popular assimilated Canadians, Lucian Bute being from Romania and Jean Pascal from Haiti

Their biggest hurdles have been problematic setbacks that have knocked both from their prime form even though Pascal is only 31 and Bute only 33 years. Neither took much career punishment in the ring, yet how quickly they flamed out after being the toast of Montreal, now reduced to a squabble over the NABF bauble. The 37 year old previously unheralded ex-c0nvict Adonis Stevenson of Haiti has eclipsed the both of them in Montreal and in Ring ratings with a stunning year in 2013.

Who’d have thunk it two years ago?

Lucien Bute vs Jean Pascal

Lucien Bute vs Jean Pascal

 This will only be Bute’s 2nd bout at lightheavy after a long reign as the IBF supermiddleweight champ, 11-1, 8 KO in title bouts with a career mark of 31-1, 24 KO. He did not fight in 2013 after this May 2013 bout was originally rescheduled because of Pascal injuries and then rescheduled again. Whether Pascal can make it to the scratch line this time around on the fight date is unknown, but he still scrapes by with a #10 Ring ranking and amazingly #5 by Boxrec. Bute has dropped out of Boxrec rankings because of inactivity thanks to Pascal, yet amazingly hangs on to his #3 Ring ranking at supermiddle. Go figure since Ring will never be able to.

Pascal is the finer posing physical specimen,  yet woefully delicate with a distinct lack of stamina and pop. He’s 28-2-1, 17 KO for his career, yet never hurt much less knocked out a true world class contender in his five years at the top, 4-2-1, 1 KO overall in title fights. Somehow he managed to deck ol’man Bernard Hopkins twice early in their first fight before running around like a flapping headless chicken to let the uselessly flailing Hopkins back in the fight for a draw. Then he let the ol’timer whup him in the rematch that I will forever refuse to watch so as to save a modicum of respect for boxing.

So how much more disgrace can one fighter bear you might ask yourself?

Plenty more if Pascal plans on moving up to heavyweight as he made noises about, but such posing is what the French Canadians seem to be willing to pay for, so in that regard Pascal is a success. I wasn’t going to cover this fight because it will likely be so ugly as to defy polite descriptors, but since both were so popular in Montreal, there it is in a nutshell. Their suns are setting as they make one last run at a money fight.

Bute had a particularly shocking fall from grace when he was stopped after showing little punch resistance to big slugging Carl Froch as Bute did his best impersonation of a deer frozen in the headlights of a truck. He had been a long time Ring P4Per, an elite fighter scarcely needing to even break into a sweat from his compelling southpaw stance he was handling his competition so easily, but Carl Froch is cut from a different mold of the typical contender and former champions Bute had previously disposed. Bute had one good round where Froch absorbed the best he could throw, and then, poof, Bute folded and the damage was done, exacerbated by disgraceful British officiating as Froch and his promoter Hearns threw a party before the standing Bute had even taken a count by the referee.

I dare say a team of 8th graders could oversee a more respectable fight than the multitudes of n’er do wells running boxing these days, but 8th graders are legally frozen out of pro boxing.

Speaking of, I hear tell the curtains may be coming down on Montreal boxing, a shame if true. I’d surely think some youngsters must be in training to have a chance at such glory as has been fought for at the Bell Centre these past several years. Stevenson and the 25 year old David Lemieux look to have plenty more fights in them, so a stay of execution seems warranted for now.

Pascal and Bute are supposed to be dope tested by WADA whatever that means in the elusive world of ever changing testing parameters in the boxing and illicit drug testing cartel businesses. Bute should prevail against Pascal and could stage a title challenge at lightheavy this year, but he’s got to wrangle a decision from the forever fleeing Pascal, so who can say?

Maybe Pascal feels the pressure and makes a last stand for a classic encounter. There’s always hope in boxing land for a good fight, so let us hope for the sake of Montreal boxing they can break up this impacted ice flow.

Mikkel Kessler Rematches Carl Froch @ O2, London

Dateline: May 25, Saturday, the O2 Arena in London. Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch look to reprise their first classic encounter 3 years back that featured paralyzing exchanges and dramatic shifts in momentum as they battled ferociously to the final bell.

Last Time Out

Last Time Out

Kessler pulled away in the championship rounds to edge a unanimous decision,  winning the battle as it were, yet losing the war when he was forced to withdraw from the Showtime tourney, citing double vision. Froch went on to fight in the finale against Andre Ward in Madison Square Garden, losing a tough decision where he finished as the stronger fighter.

After taking a year off for rest and recovery, Kessler has staged a comeback against lesser competition to win back his WBA title. Meanwhile, Froch continues to fight the best opposition in boxing today, dethroning undefeated P4P phenom Lucian Bute who had scarcely dropped a round in his dominant multiple IBF defenses.

As such, Froch is expected to be the favorite, but there is no counting out Mikkel Kessler yet. With a record of 46-2, 35 KO, he knows a win here will further cement his already stellar career when he retires. Carl Froch is up there in credentials as well, even while sporting the lessor record on paper of 30-2, 22 and the slightly older age, 35 to Kessler’s younger 34 years.

The title fight numbers favor Kessler at 10-2 to Froch’s 7-2 record, but numbers won’t tell the story of this fight. I expect Kessler to box smarter this time as the more “damaged” fighter. It remains to be seen if he can in fact win a fair decision in England, but he took the fight knowing that Carl Froch has never been knocked out nor even buzzed much while on his run at the top levels of boxing, so the money available for such a prestigious fight was just too tempting to pass up.

Froch for his part knows that he could have boxed a bit smarter going down the stretch last time. He’s grown as a fighter, using previously untapped ring smarts since the Kessler battle and knows he’s the stronger fighter on the upswing. Whether he has the skills to tap into that strength to beat Kessler is his unknown in this fight. While doing a textbook job on taking Lucian Bute out of his comfort zone with unbelievable pressure, Froch arguably cracked as well when he and his promoter, Eddie Hearn, engaged in terribly unseemly celebrations in the ring as the beleaguered out of his league referee , Earl Brown, administered a count to Bute after a knockdown. Such transgressions in properly officiated fights almost always result in a disqualification for the fighter who’s training team entered into the ring while the fight was still in process.

Could be a great fight with proper officiating that does justice to the high level these fighters will be operating at, so the BBB of C has a chance to correct their sloppy oversight of the Bute fight. The fighters have relatively clean styles, usually foul and controversy free, so their fights are usually fan friendly  throwbacks to textbook boxing and slugging in context to the past history of great fighters.

The French Connection Goes to Sherwood Forest–Bute vs Froch

The lightly traveled Le Tombeur, Lucian Bute, makes his way to Merry Olde England through Sherwood Forest to the boxing ring of the Nottingham Arena to accept the honourable challenge by the infinitely game and dangerous Carl Froch.

That would be Saturday, May 26th British time. No word on whether the Nottingham sheriff will provide security, but fair to say some of Robin Hood’s Merry Men may swing down from the rafters for voracious support as typical of British fight fans.

Bute’s IBF supermiddleweight title will be up for grabs as well as his unblemished record, currently 12-0, 8 KO as the title holder, and 30-0, 24 KO for his career. I daresay that Lucian Bute sees respect as being up for grabs as well after being repeatedly tarred as a hometown Montreal fighter ducking out on the big fights of the Showtime Super Six tourney.

Lefty in Charge

Lefty in Charge

For the record, Bute was not invited, a serendipitous luck of fate since the tourney was poorly officiated and ended in a fizzle of fan support as  Andre Ward was hoisted as their new King.

The Showtime King’s first proclamation was that he wanted no part of Lucian Bute, so it was onward to the always ready to scrap Carl Froch who had Ward on unsteady legs in the final rounds of the tourney.

The First French Connection

The First French Connection

Carl Froch is an accomplished slugger who can match most any fighter today with the strongest competition over the past 4 years. Only Glen Johnson might have a shout on him. Normally Froch travels to his bouts, so this a welcome homecoming.

Bute is blessed with the fastest overall combination of hand and footspeed and steadiest balance anywhere near his division, and at age 32 seems to be just hitting his stride as a sharp hitting, sharp boxing lefty who is seldom contested in the ring. Froch will be the best fighter by a long shot Bute has ever faced, but it’s probable that conversely Bute is the best Froch has ever faced.

Froch has shown some very underrated boxing ability in the past, but at his heart he’s a fighter and slugger with good power and stamina, not an easy nut to crack. I look for Bute to fire up the turbines for a smooth flight about the ring as he softens up Froch with his blistering right jab during the tenderizing process.

As likable, credentialed, and game as Carl Froch is, he’ll be only a few weeks shy of his 35th birthday come fight night, so a lot of traditional strikes are against him, but one good shot changes everything in boxing, so therein is his hope. The first French Connection for Froch was his successful splash on the world stage, a hard fought Pascal win where he came on late to seize control of the fight, so he has that positive history.

Bute’s hope is another dominant performance and a superfight against whomever brings the money, but the economics are that Froch is currently the biggest attraction in the division. Bute will have to move up to lightheavy and travel to Denmark to face Mikkel Kessler or go home to face the fast starting, always fading Jean Pascal to match the purse and interest of this fight.

Should be interesting at a technical level at the very least and could be primal at it’s best if Froch surprises Bute with his best ever form.

Showtime Supermiddle Final Showdown– Andre Ward vs Carl Froch

The action is supposed to occur December 17th at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, but this Showtime Supermiddle Tourney has been plagued by so many cancellations, reschedules and bad hometown officiating it’s hard to know how much the average fan cares about the final.

The Showtime tourney was announced with great fanfare and accolades, but only a few fights have lived up to the promise of the best fighting the best. Now the tourney limps home on the final leg.

The best officiated and by far most competitive fight was overseas in Mikkel Kessler‘s backyard of Denmark where he and Carl Froch went toe to toe with great overall boxing skills. Excellent ebb and flow and a very clean fight where both fighters had to dig deeper than ever before just to stay in the bout. Kessler won the bout but had to withdraw from the tourney because of a eye injury first suffered in the Ward fight where he was without vision. 

One thing is certain about this bout, Andre Ward and Carl Froch are two really tough fighters with a lot of strength at the weight. Ward holds the traditional prime age advantage at 27 years to Froch’s 34 years, but Froch is fighting as well as he ever has, so I don’t see age playing a factor though Froch has 5 more fights and 48 more rounds on his ledger.

Andre Ward is the last American Olympic Gold Medalist and was supposed to be boxing’s new star, but he has almost disappeared in the boxing landscape since his 2004 debut to become a small venue hometown California fighter well removed from the bright lights of Las Vegas and Madison Square Garden. Ward compiled a 24-0, 13 KO record in boxing’s hinterlands and will be making his 4th defense of the WBA belt he won off of Mikkel Kessler, the blueprint of his butting, elbow and grappling style offense he has employed during the tourney.

Froch vs Pascal

Froch vs Pascal

Meanwhile, Englishman Carl Froch turned pro to no acclaim in 2002 and stayed that way in England as he steadily fought his way up the chain until his spectacular “international” debut in Froch’s hometown of Nottingham, England. He dethroned undefeated Canadian Jean Pascal to snatch away his WBC belt in a very well fought bout with plenty of back and forth action. Since then he has done a foxtrot around the world against the best supermiddleweights in the business and has slowly built up a healthy following in the UK. He is a fan friendly action fighter with only one very competitive loss to Mikkel Kessler to sully his record, 28-1, 20 KO.

So Froch is better prepared to fight away from home than Ward and may have more fans in attendance than Ward since British fans love to hop The Pond to vociferiously support their fighters. However better prepared Froch is to fight away from home, Ward is clearly the Showtime “house” fighter, the only fighter to fight all his Showtime fights on his hometurf until this fight was scheduled.

Ward is more than the last Olympic Gold Medalist, he is also undefeated, so there’s much more upside to keeping him undefeated for Showtime than if the British fighter wins. This means Froch has to beat him substantially to secure a draw, and knock him out cleanly to secure the win, but Froch is the slugger in this match even if his power seems on the wane of late.

Up Close Dark Arts

Up Close Dark Arts

The biggest problem for Froch being that Ward is also the dirtiest fighter in boxing, well experienced in spoiling tactics and various “Dark Arts.” More to the point, Ward is strong enough and willing to use them as his primary offensive weapons in naked view for all to see. So far only the brawling Sakio Biko could match his dirty tactics, and poor Bika had the ref interfering anytime he looked to be up against Ward, and of course the hometown judges awarded Ward almost every round of the ugly fight only Ward’s family might like to judge.

There is no easy way to prepare for the strength and skill Ward uses to employ his Dark Arts any more than there is to counter the interference from the referee. If Froch is to win he has to fight in a defensive grappling  style any time Ward gets in on him for a butt while aggressively setting up his knockout punches on the outside.

Grappling inside with dirty fighters is not Froch’s forte.

Ward is easy to find in ring center usually, but harder to hit cleanly with his octopus arms and elbows sucking up a fighter’s offense and spirit. He did employ cleaner tactics against Arthur Abraham and Allan Green, but Abraham is a pure upright slugger that a good boxer with footwork in a hometown setting can secure a win against and Green barely showed up, meaning that Ward does have some legitimate boxing skills to employ when he chooses and knows how to stay away from sluggers.

Nonetheless, Ward makes a very awkward fight to score because even when he chooses to box outside, he’s still got a quick low shoulder rush inside that knocks other fighters off balance and disrupt continuity.

Adding it all up, Ward has to be considered a favorite. I’ve no doubt Froch could outbox and outslug him in a cleanly officiated and scored bout, but such rules of fair play are regrettably not likely to be in force. I don’t envision a knockout, but a headbutt could stop the fight. The fight was originally delayed when Ward got a truly nasty cut in sparring, possibly working on a headbutt that went awry.

Should be interesting to see what tactics each employs, and if Froch is smart, he’ll stay clean and use his considerable skills to work as hard as he can and let the chips fly where they may. Two high profile Brits, Dereck Chisora and Amir Khan have lost against hometown fighters recently. Chisora employed headbutts and clowning strategies that clearly didn’t win over the judges. Khan was warned repeatedly for pushing before being deducted points. Both were winnable fights with a smarter, cleaner strategy.

Wonder what the over and under odds are for a clean fight vs a dirty fight?

Shame it has to come down to a question like that, but the Showtime folks and New York Commish have a chance to correct what has been largely a disappointing tourney with some genuine sporting rules of fair play enforced to finish the tourney and the year with a great fight.

Le Tombeur & The Road Warrior–Lucian Bute vs Glen Johnson

Not sure what Le Tombeur represents, but Lucian Bute is about as talented a southpaw boxer as you will find in the history of boxing, and at age 31 seems to be in the middle of his formidable prime.

Le Tombeur

Le Tombeur

There was much speculation as to why he was left out of the Showtime Super Six tourney, but it turned to be a blessing in disguise. The tourney has been poorly officiated with plenty of fighter hijinks in and out of the ring as postponements continue t0 mount. All the while Lucian Bute has been quietly minting Canadian dollars as the hometown hero and now he is perfectly poised for the 9th IBF defense of his supermiddle title.

Ol’ man Johnson is coming off an emergency replacement stint for the Showtime tourney where he gave a good account of himself, exactly what his growing legion of admirers have come to expect from the toughest fighter of his era. Yes sir, Glencoffe Johnson has been on a roll of sorts since 1999, not by his record, a mixed bag at 15-12-2, but by taking on the toughest schedule in boxing with almost every one of those fighters being Ring ranked if not also #1 and P4P ranked to boot.

Road Warrior @ Work

Road Warrior @ Work

He does most all of it on the road while giving up most of the other ring conditions as well, so here he is again just 5 months after a brutal bout against one of the premiere sluggers of this era preparing to tangle with Boxrec #1 supermiddle and hometown favorite, Lucian Bute.

How does he do it?

Older fighters often like to play with the old school card, but The Road Warrior is the genuine article and a modest man, so there’s never been a need for him to play it. A concern is that he will be 43 yrs old at the start of next year, and even the toughest man has to call it a day at some point. He did make British slugger Carl Froch work hard every minute of every round in a competitive effort, but Bute is a much trickier, much faster proposition entirely.

There is some hope in those war weary bones though. Even as Father Time is trying to chase him down, it turns out that Glen Johnson will be the toughest, most experienced and the best fighter Bute will have ever faced.

Johnson may be a bit slower than the fighter that ran over Roy Jones Jr, but he still applies relentless pressure no matter if he is winning or losing a boxing match, the kind of pressure that can cause an untested fighter to come unglued.

#1!
#1!

Bute has been to the well and back against Librado Andrade in a classic fight series, and he’s been on his own roll of 6 straight knockouts over a pretty fair collection of contenders, so this confrontation looks to be a heartstopper on paper since both are fan favorites and one will have to lose.

Saturday, Nov 5 at Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City for those who are interested in boxing history in the making.

Here’s a Shout for Carl Froch vs Glen Johnson

Another leg of the forgotten Super Six Supermiddleweight tourney takes place on June 4th this Saturday at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City when the Old Road Warrior, Glen Johnson challenges Carl Froch for his WBC belt and the right to advance to the finals of the tourney.

This should be a cracker of a fight as the Brits are fond of saying, but alas, is anyone else interested outside the usual boxing fanatics? Hopefully there’s enough boxing fans still left on the East Coast to fill the venue in order to honor the fighting credentials of these gentlemen who are loathe to take a step backwards in the ring and willing to take on all comers, a rarity in boxing these days among the plethora of spoiled belt holders. 

In his last outing Froch put on his finest boxing demonstration ever in handling the frustrating style and power of Arthur Abraham. Johnson proved there’s still thunder in those ancient mitts as he knocked out Alan Green who had never been stopped before.

The Fatal Blow

The Fatal Blow

Incredibly, this is 42 yr old Johnson’s 18th year in boxing, and while he has slowed up some physically as to be expected, he is still one of the all time toughest fighters in history and nobody fancies a walk in the park with him unless they are forced to. No surprise that Johnson has logged well over double the fights and rounds of Froch who has become quite experienced in the last few years at the elite level of his division.

Since both are coming off previous performances that were out of character for each fighter, that makes this fight something of a wildcard where anything might happen. Johnson is a pure pressure fighter and Froch thrives at ring center against come forward fighters so there is sure to be plenty of give and take in this donnybrook.

Carl Froch

Carl Froch

Does Froch have the power to keep Johnson off of him in order to pick him off? Can Johnson get inside to outwork and outbrawl Froch?

I must confess to loving the career of the old Road Warrior, but probably he needs a big knockout to win this fight, and of course Froch has proven to be very durable, so my fear is that Froch’s power may trump Johnson by the fight’s end.

Froch will enter a substantial favorite, but he best be running on all cylinders as this will take a huge effort to derail Johnson who is probably as hungry a fighter today as he was 15 yrs ago.

Time for a Big Shout to rattle the cages of fight fans down Jersey way. Everyone always moans about returning to some golden era of old school fighters, and now two of the best modern throwbacks to any golden era in history are gonna duke it out in your backyards, so, gentlemen, “Let‘s git it on!”

The Forgotten Super Six–Ward vs Abraham

The announcement of the Super Six Supermiddleweight tourney a couple of years back was a huge promotional boost for boxing, Showtime, and the original fighters, Arthur Abraham, Andre Dirrell, Jermain Taylor, Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler, and Andre Ward.

Promotional squabbles, injuries, poor health, poorer officiating, and sorry scheduling have combined with short term fan memories to take considerable shine off of the involved parties.

Andre Ward

Andre Ward

The tourney favorite now, Andre Ward, should be at a high career point as the last American Olympic Boxing Gold Medalist, but hardly anyone outside his immediate family knows him, and certainly nobody bigs up his flashy resume, silky boxing skills, and thrilling public persona for good reason since he is none of those things.

Arthur Abraham enters this bout at the lowest point of his previously undefeated championship career, coming off his only two losses with critics now questioning his style, heart, and talent.

So, the fight has become essentially meaningless with the general public and barely registers with boxing enthusiasts as the Super Six Supermiddleweight tourney officially slides into terminal torpor, which is a shame given the level of talent packed into this tourney and the hoopla it stirred.

That Ward continues to recieve blatant favoritism by never having to travel beyond his home environs should be a warning for future fighters signing on for these tournies. So far the “homies” have remained undefeated thanks to sometimes specious officiating designed to protect the hometown fighter whenever things ain’t going his way.

That’s not to say some of the hometown fighters didn’t deserve their hard earned victories, but rather noting that in the more competitive contests, clearly the odds were stacked against the visiting fighter, the reason why the Froch/Abraham bout was held in Finland. That eliminated hometown boxing commission favoritism and it was telling the fight was the cleanest of the tourney thus far.

How the Ward/Abraham fight plays out is hard to tell other than Ward should be a substantial betting favorite with recent career momentum and home advantages swinging his way. Stylistically, his current form shows him to be a fundamentally sound boxer type with a strong bent towards dirty fighting, headbutts being his dirty little favorite, but also some unseemly grappling, rabbit punches, hitting on the break, and general ugly mayhem, things that get opposing fighters complaining to the ref and off their fight plans.

Arthur Abraham

Arthur Abraham

Abraham is the slugger in this match with proven power, but he can also be a slow starting, clumsy looking fighter when on the hunt, open to being out maneuvered and outboxed as Carl Froch most recently showed in his last encounter. Abraham is the shortest boxer of all the super six by a substantial margin which may innoculate him against the Ward butts. Though Abraham is extremely strong for his size, it’s a given that Ward is the bigger man and may try to test Abraham early by muscling him inside and brawling to confuse him.

It’s up to Abraham to figure out how to best apply his power to Ward. He did hurt the durable Froch late in their fight, but it was too little delivered too late and I just can’t see him outboxing Ward, so it’s knockout or bust for this fight, something Abraham thrived on in before his last two fights robbed him of his invincible mojo.

Ward turned pro with rumors of a weak chin being the reason this touted Olympic Gold Medalist has taken the slow train to nowhere approach to his career and likely the real reason for his dirty fighting. Thus far though, he has endured every good shot, but it’s fair to say that Abraham even in his diminished capacity of late has more power than Ward has ever experienced, and in an awkward fight as I suspect this will be, King Arthur could well surprise.

They turned pro within a year of each other, but Abraham has logged considerably more fights and rounds, 34/226 compared to Ward who has notched 23 fights in 139 rounds. So add in that Abraham has been fighting at championship level for some 7 yrs and near his athletic prime at age 31, that’s a significant advantage that many are overlooking for this fight since the 27 year old Ward is a relative newcomer to title fights with his 3rd defense of his WBA strap .

Strategically, King Arthur’s long time trainer Ulli Wegner is used to European style boxing where German refs don’t tolerate dirty fighting. Wegner and Abraham had a public falling out after the Froch loss before making up, but I can’t say if all the residual bad feelings between the two have been settled coming into this fight. Can Wegner properly train a fighter for the foot movement and brawling, mauling style of a Ward type of fighter?

More disturbing, Abraham’s promoter, Hall of Famer Wilfried Saurland has warned that he will keep Abraham at home if the California Boxing Commission can’t appoint “neutral” officials for this fight, so lots of “ifs” going into the fight.

Thankfully in a recent interview, Abraham sounded confident and ready to fight, so it may be worthwhile to tune in this Saturday, May 14th at Home Depot Center, Carson, California to see if anyone shows up.

!WoW-Abraham/Froch vs Marquez/Katsidis For FOY!

!WoW-Abraham/Froch vs Marquez/Katsidis For FOY!

Post Thanksgiving, November 27th this Saturday sees what could well be two of the top ranked action packed Fight of the Year candidates.

Just a quick note with all due respect to the abruptly terminated middleweight classic Sergio Martinez and Paul Williams put on.

Planted

Planted

Martinez is smokin’ red hot coming off his dramatic career signature victory and rumored to be in talks to face the newly Showtime signed Lucian Bute, two potential candidates to meet the winner of the Super Six tourney………double WoW!

 First serving this Saturday comes from the “exotic” locale of Helsinki, Finland as part of the Showtime Super Six SuperMiddleweight Tourney when former middleweight champ King Arthur Abraham goes against former supermiddleweight champ Carl The Cobra Froch for the vacant WBC supermiddleweight crown that used to belong to Froch.

These two are far and away the most physical and powerful fighters in the tourney and they usually get their way in the ring by knockout with each being the best or near that the other has ever fought. The ring is gonna get a workout in this one as most folks are thinking a knockdown, drag out, knuckle busting war here.

Both are coming off their first career losses and are hungry to reclaim the glory that used to be theirs. It’s also worth noting that Abraham has knocked the first two fighters he faced clean out of the tournament with brutal concussive force. In Froch’s last bout, Mikkel Kessler outgutted and outboxed him but took enough punishment to pull out of the tourney, citing eye problems that first surfaced in the Ward fight, so fighting Froch is no Sunday picnic.

The Cobra

The Cobra

Froch has really stepped up his competition in his last 4 fights, 3 of which he took some solid punishment in. At age 33, he’s beginning to enter boxing’s twilight zone when traditional athletic attributes start to erode and a fighter needs to make use of smarter conditioning, better ring craft, and nuance. Froch generally likes nothing better than to get in a slugout rather than box which has served him well since he’s so strong, but I rate Abraham’s power over his, so we shall see what transpires when push comes to slug.

One More Down, So Who Wants It Next?

One More Down, So Who Wants It Next?

Abraham is also a pretty basic boxer, never really looking to outbox anyone, but rather to engage in a test of wills, ring generalship, and power. To that end, he does two things exceedingly well: 1-He covers up well on the ropes as he uses them to rest, to gage, and to extend out the opposing fighter.  2-He tends to attack without warning in violent bursts that do a lot of damage and he’s a great finisher when needed.

That’s pretty much 90% of any fight against him that he controls using his style, the ringmanship.

Not many have given Abraham much credit for his footwork, but it’s also topnotch as he’s very quick on the mark, can cut the ring off, and has stayed very well balanced from what I’ve seen in his career save the Dirrell fight where he was forced into a chicken chase of the greased lightning Dirrell and looked off balance and off his game in the early going.

Nobody ever looked good chasing chickens around the pen, though.

If Abraham has any real weakness, it might be found in his titanium rebuilt jaw that Edison Miranda literally shattered in one of the most brutal fights in boxing’s history. It’s a gut wrencher to watch after you understand the full extent of that damage.

I wouldn’t claim to know how long a rebuild of that type could last, but Froch is very heavy handed and the fight game is about exposing and then exploiting any weaknesses as they show up, a predator’s artform.

So for me, it’s Abraham’s footwork and basic style over Froch who will be wanting to rock hard with Abraham in a brutal beauty.

About eight or so time zones later in the more traditional locale of Las Vegas, Nevada, modern Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez means to put his lightweight titles on the line against Aussie based Michael Katsidis for the Ring, WBA and WBO belts.

Marquez is getting up there in years and accumulated ring time, being 37 years of age now and having turned pro in 1993 some 57 fights ago, but he’s currently the man to beat in the lightweight division, so this is the goose who laid the golden eggs opportunity of a lifetime for former WBO champ Katsidis.

The Great Katsidis

The Great Katsidis

Katsidis is the younger, age 30, bigger, stronger, and more powerful puncher in this one whose natural style is as a swarming puncher/brawler. He showed he can box some as the undefeated young contender Kevin Mitchell found out this year when the cagey Katsidis moved and boxed to open before luring Mitchell in for the quick finish.

Marquez is a natural counter puncher, but he won’t back away from a tear up when it comes to him, which it will since Katsidis figures his time is now and knows he could never outbox Marquez on the cards in his adopted Las Vegas fight home.

Marquez knows that he should be able to sharpshoot this one to mark up Katsidis badly, so the question is whether he can finish it before the swarm comes when his old war weary bones will be forced to trade heavily?

A Spritzer Para Tu, Senor

A Spritzer Para Tu, Senor

This one is tougher for me to call. Marquez beat their common opposition that Katsidis lost to, Casamayer and Diaz, but he was struggling although the Diaz rematch went much smoother for him.

Katsidis had Casamayer finished but wasn’t smart enough back then to close the show, and he was never troubled by Diaz, a split decision loss in Diaz’s hometown of Houston, a lackluster fight between two dispirited fighters coming off their first losses and boxing too carefully without any of their usual fire.

Katsidis is now back on the upswing again with a new swagger and better experience whereas Marquez is coming off a dispiriting, lopsided loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr that his rematch win over Diaz scarcely bandaged. Marquez knows that a win puts him in the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes, a rubber match that has plenty of support in the boxing community, but he also knows that his promoter, Golden Boy Promotions, they are being sued by Manny Pacquiao for defamation, so what was a natural 3rd fight between them becomes problematic.

Katsidis could well wear down the creaking Marquez, but only if his face lasts the distance. Marquez will be the substantial betting favorite though, and Vegas is effectively his home town, so he gets all the officiating perks of the hometown fighter, all ring conditions the game road warrior Katsidis is experienced with. He means to walk through fire for this Golden Goose or go out on his shield trying.

WoW, 2 likely Fight of the Year candidates on the same day well separated by time constraints for your select viewing. Must see to believe!

A Poke Here + A Poke There x 12 = A Lotta Pokes

A Poke Here + A Poke There x 12 = A Lotta Pokes

GrandMaster Marquez Survives to Thrive

GrandMaster Marquez Survives to Thrive

 

And Then There Were Three-The Demise of The Showtime Super Six

Chop-Chop

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
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.