As America was just starting to wake up on Wednesday, a press conference across the world in Denmark was threatening the creditability and even the continuation of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic. WBC Champion Mikkel Kessler announced that he was withdrawing from the ground-breaking tournament due to a serious eye injury, explaining that he had to “give up my big dream”. Unless they act quickly Showtime are in serious danger of joining Kessler in seeing their big dream collapse.
Kessler’s progress in the tournament had hitherto been the best example of what a breath of fresh air the Super Six has been, with the initial favorite bouncing back from his shock loss to underdog Andre Ward by handing Carl Froch his first-ever defeat. With the tournament about restart with the final round of matches in its group stage, Kessler was expected to complete the comeback by defeating Allan Green on September 25th to secure a spot in the semi-finals.
That fight has now been cancelled and it’s hard to see what benefit there is in keeping Allan Green in the tournament. Green came into the Super Six as a replacement for Jermain Taylor, and having lost to Andre Ward in his only tournament match he would surely have needed a knockout victory to advance. In any case, the sight of two substitutes fighting for a semi-final place would make a mockery of the earlier stages of the tournament.
But that isn’t the only problem plaguing the Super Six, with tickets still having not yet gone on sale for either Andre Dirrell vs. Andre Ward or Carl Froch vs. Arthur Abraham. This is despite both being due to take place in around a month’s time. Worse there is some doubt about whether Dirrell-Ward will actually go ahead, with neither fighter willing to travel to the other’s hometown. Ward has argued for the fight to take place in Vegas, but it’s difficult to see Ward-Dirrell doing well there without strong support on the undercard. Froch and Abraham do at least have an agreed location for their fight but as glamorous as Monaco is, it’s far away from either fighter’s passionate home support.
Amid all these arguments and squabbles, the momentum that the Super Six had last year has been lost. Both remaining fights are excellent, with Dirrell vs. Ward seeing two old friends and former Olympic teammates squaring off while Froch vs. Abraham pits two of boxing’s most exciting all-action brawlers against each other. These should be huge matches in the boxing calendar but to fulfill their potential they need to be for high stakes, properly promoted to fight fans and take place in a genuine boxing hotbed.
The only logical way for Showtime to proceed is to cancel the final round of the group stage and move forward with Ward vs. Dirrell and Abraham vs. Froch as the semi-finals. To help recapture the attention of the boxing world and escape the protracted and tiresome arguments about who should have home advantage, these semi-finals should take place from the same neutral venue on the same night. Such a double-header would stand a much better chance of performing well in a major market such as Las Vegas or New York than either fight could by itself. Using these fights as the semi-finals would not only help keep the tournament on schedule but would ensure that the final would be an American-European affair, so giving fans on either side of the Atlantic a fighter to root for.
If the Super Six is going to recover from its recent stumbles, then Showtime needs to recognized that continuing with the group stage is a waste of everyone’s time and that they need to put on a high-profile event to relaunch the tournament. If they fail to take the necessary action then at best the Super Six will limp to an unsatisfyingily anticlimactic conclusion and at worst the whole tournament could collapse.
Tags: Allan Green, Andre Dirrell, Andre Ward, Arthur Abraham, Boxing, Carl Froch, Jermain Taylor, Mikkel Kessler, Showtime, Super Six World Boxing Classic