Six Thoughts on the Super Six World Boxing Classic: Group Stage 2

Six Thoughts on the Super Six World Boxing Classic Group Stage 2

Boxing’s best idea in years, Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic, is giving the sport what it needs and the fans what they want: great matchups en route to crowning a super middleweight king. The tournament got started with a bang last fall, the very first fight resulting in a knockout so thunderous it left the victim – Jermain Taylor – opting out of the tournament. But where one combatant fell, another was quick to take his place in Allan Green.

The tournament picked up again in full force this year with Group Stage 2. The second round pairings had something for everyone, including a controversial finish, an all-out war and a flawless performance by a fast-rising talent.

Here are six thoughts looking back on Group Stage 2 and ahead to Group Stage 3 later this year.

1. Home Team Still Rules

If at any point in this tournament you find yourself wondering who to pick in what you consider a toss-up fight, take the home fighter. If you have done that so far, you are 6-0. The only participant who has yet to win a fight is the only one who has yet to fight at home: Allan Green.

Home field has proved especially crucial in two fights this tournament, both involving Carl Froch. In his hometown of Nottingham, England, Froch got a very dubious decision over Andre Dirrell in Group Stage 1. But in Group Stage 2, Froch found out what it was like to come out on the losing end of a decision when Mikkel Kessler just edged him out in Herning, Denmark.

2. Fight of the Year Candidate

What a battle fans were treated to in Group Stage 2, when Kessler and Froch brought the house down in an effort to bring each other down. It was a back and forth war, but in the end, Kessler willed himself the championship rounds to snatch the WBC title from Froch just six months after losing the WBA version to Andre Ward.

It was a classic that could have gone either way, and a draw may have been the fairest result. Froch admitted as much immediately after the fight but quickly changed his tune about fighting in others’ backyards once out of Denmark.

3. Ain’t Getting On No Plane?

Froch made a big fuss about having to face Kessler in Herning, which he believed was not an attractive enough destination to warrant his fans making the trek to cheer him on. Then Iceland’s volcano Eyjafjallajokull erupted, billowing ash over Europe and canceling air traffic a week before the fight. Froch eventually made it to Denmark when Kessler’s promoter had him flown in by private jet.

In his mind, he may as well have not even shown up. Because after letting the loss – the first of his career – sink in, he refused to face his Group Stage 3 opponent Arthur Abraham in Abraham’s home country of Germany, saying he couldn’t get a fair shake anywhere east of England. Demanding the fight take place in Nottingham or neutral territory, Abraham-Froch has ultimately ended up in Canada.

4. Bad Break Or Bad Temper?

Abraham, too, suffered the first loss of his career in Group Stage 2 when he was disqualified against Dirrell in Detroit, Michigan. Abraham, who entered that fight as the points leader, was thoroughly outclassed by the American and knocked down early. When he finally started attacking, it was out of desperation.

After Dirrell slipped in round 11, a frustrated Abraham proceeded to hit him with a right hand while he was on his knees. In a scary moment, Dirrell was knocked loopy, unaware when he regained his senses that he had won the fight. Abraham didn’t do himself any favors either when he attested that Dirrell – whose performance more than made up for his “running” in the late rounds against Froch – was faking.

5. Take Me To Your Leader

When the tournament was put together, there were two favorites. Based on his tenure in the division and proving second only to Joe Calzaghe, Kessler was the man to beat, with Abraham a close second. But when Ward dismantled Kessler in Group Stage 1, all eyes turned to the undefeated American.

Ward remains the current favorite. And, after cruising to an easy win over Green, he’s the points leader and already has secured himself a place in the semifinals. All the hype surrounding Ward when he won his gold medal in the 2004 Olympics is starting to come to fruition. Right now, he appears to be the best in the tournament.

6. Is Bute Number One?

As for the 168-pound division as a whole, anyone could make a reasonable argument for having Lucian Bute as the best super middleweight in the world. While Ward has looked terrific in his last two fights, so has Bute, who scored impressive knockouts over Librado Andrade and Edison Miranda. Ward won an easy decision over Miranda last year; Bute walked through him in three rounds.

Bute has HBO backing him as the best at 168 pounds, but he’s missing the opponents to keep him relevant. Fortunately for Bute, two fighters will drop out of the Super Six at the conclusion of Group Stage 3, giving him two viable opponents for early 2011. Unfortunately for boxing fans, neither of those men will be Ward.

Below is the current points tally going into Group Stage 3, which reveals that all fighters still have a chance to advance into the semifinals, which should make for some fantastic matchups in the final group stage.

Andre Ward – 4 points (secured semifinal berth)
Arthur Abraham – 3 points (secures semifinal berth with draw)
Carl Froch – 2 points (secures semifinal berth with win)
Mikkel Kessler – 2 points (secures semifinal berth with win)
Andre Dirrell – 2 points (secures semifinal berth with win)
Allan Green – 0 points (secures semifinal berth with KO + Froch loss OR Dirrell loss)

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