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
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Posted in Uncategorized
Tagged Abraham, andre dirrell, andre ward, arthur abraham, carl froch, Home Depot Center, Jermain Taylor, mikkel kessler, showtime super six, super six, Ulli Wegner
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.