Boxing

Super Six Report Cards & Group Stage 3 Previews

by Geoffrey Ciani Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic is arguably the best thing in boxing today. This unique and ambitious tournament has created an unprecedented aura of excitement surrounding the super middleweight division. After all, the 168 pound weight class has lived in relative obscurity during its rather brief existence. Its modern embodiment traces its roots back to March 1984 when Murray Sutherland defeated Ernie Singletary for the vacant IBF version of the title. Since its inception only Joe Calzaghe has ever officially been recognized by Ring Magazine as the super middleweight champion.

With its unique round-robin hybrid format, the Super Six has the division’s best consistently squaring off. Fighters involved in the tournament are receiving widespread interest from fans. In fact, they are drawing all types of attention they might not otherwise have received were it not for this tournament showcasing their talents under the spotlight. Even IBF champion Lucian Bute, who is not actually a participant, finds himself benefitting from the enthusiasm the Super Six brings to the division. In two rounds of action the tournament has produced six interesting match-ups that have included a major upset, a couple of razor thin decisions, a dramatic twelfth round knockout, a disqualification, and some good overall crowd-pleasing action.

Right now the current leader board looks like this:

1. 4 *Andre Ward (2-0)
2. 3 Arthur Abraham (1-1, 1 KO)
3. 2 Andre Dirrell (1-1)
3. 2 Carl Froch (1-1)
3. 2 Mikkel Kessler (1-1)
6. 0 Allan Green (0-1)
* - guaranteed a spot in the semi-finals

Now that group stage two is complete it is time to grade and evaluate each participant’s performance(s) thus far:


Arthur Abraham

Record: (31-1, 25 KOs)
Moniker: King Arthur
Group Stage 1 Result: W-KO12 Jermain Taylor
Group Stage 2 Result: L-DQ11 Andre Dirrell
Tournament Record: (1-1)(3 points, 2nd place)

Recap: Abraham was the overall leader at the conclusion of Group Stage 1. He scored a dramatic twelfth round knockout against Jemain Taylor and looked good throughout the fight. Even without the last minute heroics, Abraham appeared well on his victory and was comfortably ahead on all three scorecards. Abraham had some difficulties against Andre Dirrell in Group Stage 2, however. Dirrell outboxed him for most of the bout and even managed to score a knockdown against “King Arthur” in the fourth. Abraham came on strong in the tenth and hurt Dirrell. It appeared he might be able to pull off another dramatic late round knockout, but with about 1:52 left in the eleventh, Dirrell slipped to the canvas and Abraham unloaded on him with a vicious punch while he was down. This resulted in a disqualification loss for Abraham.

Overall Grade: B-

Group Stage 3 Preview: Abraham battles Carl Froch in Group Stage 3. The fight is scheduled to take place on October 2 at the Chapiteau de l’Espace Fontvieille in the capital city/state of Monaco. Mathematically speaking, this could be a make or break fight for Abraham so he needs to win in order to guarantee himself in the semi-finals. Abraham needs to get off to a faster start in this one otherwise he risks finding himself in a position where he might need another late round knockout to pull out a victory. Even with a loss, it is possible for Abraham to advance but he cannot afford to take that chance.


Andre Dirrell

Record: (19-1, 13 KOs)
Moniker: The Matrix
Group Stage 1 Result: L-SD Carl Froch
Group Stage 2 Result: W-DQ11 Arthur Abraham
Tournament Record: (1-1)(2 points, tied for 3rd place)

Recap: Dirrell may have had the toughest break in the tournament when he suffered a close split decision loss at the hands of Carl Froch in Group Stage 1. Despite losing, “The Matrix” made a good account of himself. He boxed well for the most part, but his reluctance to engage at times did not bode well with two of the three judges. He rebounded nicely in Group Stage 2 and thoroughly outboxed Arthur Abraham for the majority of their contest. Dirrell ultimately won the fight when Abraham was disqualified for striking him when he was down. It was a bittersweet victory for Dirrell, however, because he was denied the satisfaction of having his hand raised after the final bell.

Overall Grade: B

Group Stage 3 Preview: Dirrell is scheduled to face former Olympic teammate Andre Ward in Group Stage 3. This one is scheduled to take place on September 25 at a venue not yet determined. This is a tough draw for Dirrell. A victory should guarantee him a spot in the semi-finals. Style-wise, Dirrell probably poses the toughest challenge for Ward to date. Unfortunately for Dirrell, he is going up against a talented boxer with tremendous heart and desire who is also carrying a great deal of momentum into this contest. Dirrell needs to bring his A game and get off first with his punches. He also needs a solid plan B if getting off first does not do the trick.


Carl Froch

Record: (26-1, 20 KOs)
Moniker: The Cobra
Group Stage 1 Result: W-SD Andre Dirrell
Group Stage 2 Result: L-UD Mikkel Kessler
Tournament Record: (1-1)(2 points, tied for 3rd place)

Recap: Of all the fighters in the Super Six, none has had two closer contests than Carl Froch. In Group Stage 1 he was awarded a very close, somewhat controversial decision against Andre Dirrell. This was a fight many observers felt Dirrell deserved to win, but “The Cobra” ultimately willed his way to victory through sheer determination. Despite having some really rough spots during the fight, Froch performed well. He exuded an aura of great confidence and this was enough to sway two of the judges in his favor. Froch made another good account of himself in Group Stage 2 when he dropped a close decision against Kessler. Froch had his moments and performed admirably against Kessler. Victory seemed to be within his grasp, but he simply did not do enough during the second half of the contest to convince the judges that he was the better man.

Overall Grade: B

Group Stage 3 Preview: Froch takes on Arthur Abraham in Group Stage 3 on October 2. A victory should land him a spot in the semi-finals so this is a very important fight for Froch. He needs to forget about the fight with Kessler and just focus on boxing. Andre Dirrell already proved that Abraham can be outboxed and outworked. Froch is not as slick or athletic as Dirrell, but he is crafty in his own right and has the ability to work behind his jab. If he can keep Abraham at the end of his punches and tighten his defense whenever Arthur comes out of his turtle shell, he stands a good chance in this one.


Allan Green

Record: (29-2, 20 KOs)
Moniker: Sweetness
Group Stage 1 Result: N/A
Group Stage 2 Result: L-UD Andre Ward
Tournament Record: (0-1)(0 points, 6th place)

Recap: Green entered the tournament in Group Stage 2 as a replacement for Jermain Taylor. He was pitted against Andre Ward who was coming off of an upset victory against then tournament favorite Mikkel Kessler. “Sweetness” lost a lopsided unanimous decision and his efforts were underwhelming to say the least. It is difficult to tell whether this was because of Green’s lack of desire or Ward’s abundance of skills and talent. Either way, Green did not look impressive and needs to find a way to turn things around.

Overall Grade: D

Group Stage 3 Preview: Green is slated to face Mikkel Kessler in Group Stage 3 on September 25 at a site to be determined. Many observers anticipated that Green would come storming into the tournament with a nothing to lose attitude in his fight against Ward. This did not happen. He is going to need that mindset, however, if he expects to be successful against Kessler. Green needs to dig deep and put forth a more spirited performance.


Mikkel Kessler

Record: (43-2, 32 KOs)
Moniker: The Viking Warrior
Group Stage 1 Result: L-TD11 Andre Ward
Group Stage 2 Result: W-UD Carl Froch
Tournament Record: (1-1)(2 points, tied for 3rd place)

Recap: Kessler had a rough outing in Group Stage 1 against Andre Ward. Kessler entered the tournament as the odds-on favorite to win the whole thing. Ward was viewed as someone who was too inexperienced for the likes of Kessler. During the fight, however, it was “The Viking Warrior” who appeared inexperienced while Ward looked like the seasoned veteran. Kessler suffered the type of prolonged one-sided beating that would have broken the will of lesser men. He managed to bounce back nicely, however, in a grueling encounter with Carl Froch in Group Stage 2. Kessler was just a little fresher and a little sharper going down the stretch enabling him to secure the win.

Overall Grade: B-

Group Stage 3 Preview: Kessler will face Allan Green in Group Stage 3 on September 25. He appears to have regained his confidence and has established a bit of momentum going into this one. Kessler needs to stay focused. He cannot afford to make the mistake of overlooking Green just because he is coming off of a lackluster performance. If Kessler is locked in on the task at hand he stands a good chance at scoring a victory and securing himself a spot in the semi-finals.


Jermain Taylor

Record: (28-4-1, 17 KOs)
Moniker: Bad Intentions
Group Stage 1 Result: L-KO12 Arthur Abraham
Group Stage 2 Result: N/A
Tournament Record: (0-1)(0 points, no longer in the tournament)

Recap: Taylor suffered a savage twelfth round knockout loss at the hands of Carl Froch six months before he battled Arthur Abraham in Group Stage 1. When he faced Abraham it was like déjà vu all over again. “Bad Intentions” made a decent account of himself for the most part, but it almost seemed as if he was determined not to run out of steam like he did when he got stopped by Froch. Taylor paced himself better but in doing so he was unable to win enough rounds. Abraham was winning the fight anyway, but the stoppage victory landed him an extra point on the scorecards. After suffering back-to-back brutal twelfth round knockouts, Taylor made a wise and admirable decision when he pulled out of the tournament.

Overall Grade: C-

Group Stage 3 Preview: N/A


Andre Ward

Record: (22-0, 13 KOs)
Moniker: S.O.G.
Group Stage 1 Result: W-TD11 Mikkel Kessler
Group Stage 2 Result: W-UD Allan Green
Tournament Record: (2-0)(4 points, 1st place)

Recap: Going into Group Stage 1 it appeared that Ward got the toughest first round draw when he was pitted against tournament favorite Mikkel Kessler. There was a significant vocal minority who gave Ward a chance, but few expected the type of performance Ward displayed. The manner of his victory was in fact somewhat shocking. He thoroughly dominated and outclassed Kessler. He carried this momentum into Group Stage 2 by scoring a dominant lopsided decision against the overmatched Allan Green. “S.O.G.” is the only fighter in the tournament who remains undefeated. Furthermore, he is the only boxer with two tournament victories, neither of which was even remotely competitive. Ward is also the only fighter already guaranteed a spot in the semi-finals and he is clearly the man to beat at this juncture.

Overall Grade: A-

Group Stage 3 Preview: Ward is going to fight against his friend and former Olympic teammate Andre Dirrell in Group Stage 3. Stylistically, Dirrell has the type of speed, athleticism, and boxing ability that could pose some problems for Ward. In order to beat Dirrell, Ward needs to fight intelligently and exhibit the same type of versatility and adaptability he has shown thus far. For the first time in the tournament, Ward is going up against someone who might be physically more gifted than him. In order to offset that, he will need to rely on his superior boxing IQ.

***

For more information about On the Ropes Boxing Radio please visit our website:
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To contact Geoffrey Ciani:
ciani@eastsideboxing.com

To read more by Ciani please visit The Mushroom Mag:
http://www.eatthemushroom.com/mag

Article posted on 22.07.2010



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