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Boxing Perspective: The Super Six Tournament

Recently, it was announced by Showtime that they were putting a super six tournament together, comprising of the six top super middleweights, bar one, a certain Lucian Bute, to face off against each other in order to ascertain the new king of the division.

As the WBC and WBA titles are on the line, this looks set to be a very exciting event indeed. As most, including myself, were relatively confused as to how this would take place, allow me to simplify…

The tournament participants are, in alphabetical order, as follows:

Arthur Abraham, Berlin, Germany: 30-0 (24), IBF Middleweight Champion
Andre Dirrell, Flint, MI: 18-0 (13), 2004 Olympic Medallist
Carl Froch, Nottingham, England: 25-0 (20), WBC Super Middle Champion
Mikkel Kessler, Copenhagen, Denmark: 41-1 (31), WBA Super Middle Champion
Jermain Taylor, Little Rock, AR: 28-3-1 (17), former Unified Middleweight Champion
Andre Ward, Oakland, CA: 19-0 (12), 2004 Olympic Gold Medallist

Each boxer will fight three bouts against different opponents in a round-robin, points based competition. Points will be awarded after each bout.

Scoring is as follows:
2 points for a win, with a 1 point stoppage bonus
1 point for a draw
0 points for a loss

The top four point scorers in the initial phase will compete in the semi finals with the bottom two participants eliminated.

The point leader at this stage will be pitted against against the last place fighter and the second place fighter will face the third in single elimination bouts. The winners of these two bouts will fight in the final round of competition.

Group Stage i matchups:
Carl Froch vs. Andre Dirrell for WBC World Championship
Jermain Taylor vs. Arthur Abraham
Mikkell Kessler vs. Andre Ward for WBA World Championship

Obviously, Mikkel Kessler is the tournament favourite. The WBA champion has 41 wins, 31 of those wins coming by way of KO, and has lost only to Joe Calzaghe in 2007.

The title of underdog has to go to Jermain Taylor as he has lost three of his 32 fights, albeit to Carl Froch in April of this year and twice to Kelly Pavlik, he also has a draw against Winky Wright on his record from 17th June, 2006.

Focusing on the Group Stage matches, Jermain Taylor has a relatively hard start against hard hitting “King” Arthur Abraham, in that Abraham is undefeated, with 30 fights, 24 KO’s, and has faced good competition on the way up such as, Edison Miranda twice, and Elvin Ayala, for which he travelled to the states.

Namely, the first fight with Miranda is the key here as Abraham had a broken jaw in two places from the 4th round on and continued through the fight to take the decision. Taylor in his most recent performance un-loaded all he had on a near defenceless Carl Froch, putting him down in the 3rd round and in all honesty was boxing beautifully, until somewhere around the 9th.

At that point Taylor started tarted un-ravelling, just as he had done in the seventh against Pavlik, and that could be put down to the cracking shots Pavlik was throwing his way, or because Taylor gassed out.

Either way, the same thing happened against Froch, and Abraham has as good a chin as Froch. Although this is not at middleweight, where Abraham has been residing, and Abraham could struggle coming up.

Overall, I think Abraham will stop Taylor late in the fight after Taylor has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at him.

Kessler vs. Ward is a very interesting matchup especially with Kessler’s WBA title up for grabs. As already covered, Kessler going into this as the favourite and former Gold medal winner Ward is looking like he has a bit of a mountain to climb.

Ward is superbly gifted in hand-speed, agility, movement and he can bang a bit too, but Kessler has fought good opposition in Anthony Mundine, Markus Beyer and Librado Andrade.

Kessler has good KO power is technically gifted and has a good chin but in his sole loss to Calzaghe, which I might add was a good battle, he lost from round 5-6 onwards as slowly but surely Calzaghe upped the work-rate, put on the pressure and got the decision, laying a blue-print that stated quite simply…take this man out of his comfort zone, he really doesn’t like it.

But the fact that Calzaghe made it possible doesn’t mean that anyone in the tournament can do the same thing. By the same token, Ward could use his speed to fluster Kessler, and outwork him.

This brings us neatly onto our third match-up; Carl Froch vs. Andre Dirrell. Froch’s WBC belt is on the line here while Dirrell is another former Olympian, having won the Bronze medal as a middleweight in the 2004 summer Olympics.

Dirrell was a standout amateur and won the National Amateur Championship in 2003. He has great hand-speed and is very well schooled, but has not exactly had any tough tests yet.
This of course does not rule him out of the competition; it just looks more one-sided on paper.

Dirrell has had 18 fights, won all of them, 13 by KO, and is a flashy counterpuncher who can switch-hit to a certain degree.

Froch has had 25 fights, with 20 of them not going the distance. He also turns up with a wealth of amateur experience including two ABA middleweight titles and a bronze medal at the 2001 World Amateur Boxing Championships.

On a domestic level, Froch retired veteran ex-world champion Robin Reid in the fifth, had a few more not so big names on the list, and moved onto his first world title fight against Jean Pascal.

If you have not seen the Pascal fight then it is well worth watching, as it is a hard fought, drawn out battle with both men hurting each other several times throughout, but neither refusing to back down. It was a war.

Froch came through that and just squeezed the decision. When he fought Jermain Taylor for his first defence of the WBC title back in April of this year, he travelled across the pond to fight, and it seemed that nerves got to him a bit that night.

The first four rounds were terrible for Froch, as he just looked like he couldn’t get going. He was stiff, frozen like a rabbit in headlights, until Taylor’s superb boxing left Froch sat on his bum in the middle of the third round looking as if he had no idea what just hit him.

In all fairness, he had a completely hostile crowd around him that were all cheering on their home fighter and Froch, knowing that not one UK television broadcaster picked up the viewing rights, was really up against it that night but that seemed to fuel him on as he started to pick up the pace around the 10th round.

He was hitting Taylor with some good clean shots and that, as well as the previous 11 rounds of Taylor’s relentless attacking of Froch, got too much for the American and Froch stopped him in the twelfth with about 10 seconds to go.

Froch was behind on all judge’s scorecards with massive margins in Taylor’s favour. Froch recently commented on the announcement of the Super Six tournament at a press conference held by Showtime where all participants were present, speaking of his opponent, ‘I am not one for studying fighters, I have seen one round of his where I saw that Dirrell had hand-speed and could switch-hit, but he doesn’t have loads of power and hasn’t really been tested, lets see how he fares when I take him into the trenches.

‘It’s a really exciting competition as you have two world champions in myself and Kessler, a world champion in Abraham but he dominated at middleweight so we don’t know if he will be able to dominate at super middleweight.

‘Taylor, as we all know, is a excellent fighter, and the two unbeaten prospects, so it looks to be the most exciting tournament in years and great for boxing’.

Froch obviously fancies the job against Dirrell, and even went as far as to say, with confidence and conviction, that he will be the last man standing. Whether you agree or not you have to love his confidence.

Froch will be the favorite and Dirrell, as he is not as talented as Taylor or Pascal, could struggle but there is no way I would rule him out, as a lot of writers and fans are. Should he win, Froch could be fighting Kessler next, which is an entirely different story altogether.

Kessler, who will have to get past Andre Ward, is defensively excellent, and a brilliant counterpuncher with a granite chin. I can’t see Froch stopping Kessler, but then I can’t see Kessler stopping Froch.

The blueprint to defeat Kessler has been laid by Calzaghe and if Froch could increase the pressure and the volume thrown, he could make it an uncomfortable night for Kessler. Of course, saying these things is a great deal easier than actually doing it, and Kessler won’t exactly just let Froch take him out of his rhythm.

Froch vs Abraham would be a barn-storm of a fight, both having a lot of power and neither being defensive wizards. If it happens, this one could be very exciting, as Abraham does have a defence of sorts, he smothers his head and tucks up for a ot of the early rounds whilst figuring out his opponents. When he thinks he has their number, he opens up and usually finishes the job in spectacular fashion. The KO reel of Abraham is good to watch, he flattens people.

Froch has flattened his fair share of opponents as well, but it’s too far off to call the victor really, it will be good to see how they get on in their first and second stages.

But with Dirrell coming up first, Froch will have a hard night’s work ahead, as will Dirrell. Froch has a very awkward style with an almost nonchalant defence and keeps his hands relatively low, using his shoulders to bounce the punches off or catch them with his glove.

Of course, this lack-lustre defence was totally exposed against Taylor, but it was Froch’s iron will, determination and heart that secured him the win. He can also hit hard, he has KO power and because of his awkward style, is able to throw shots from the outside without leaving himself dangerously open for a counter.

Hopefully, the occasion will not get to him this time around as it did against Taylor, as Froch has now been in front of a huge hostile home crowd, been out-boxed and put on his arse, but staging that kind of dramatic performance in his first fight in the states has to act as a huge confidence boost.

Some prospects in the states and the UK would barely experience all of that in 25-30 fights, with the learning curve being that padded, gradual and slo. Dirrell has never fought anyone like Froch and although Dirrell could dominate the early rounds with flashes of brilliance, at the end of the day Froch will either stop him very late or take a close unanimous decision with Froch’s heart overpowering Dirrell’s skill.

Either way, boxing fans are all in for a treat.

Froch could make a serious impact on the tournament and could make it to the later stages with some good points behind him. And, he certainly could win Super Six.

Whether he will or not is a different story.

About Nick Chamberlain

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