So what do several of the world’s best super middleweights think of the up-and-coming crop of fighters in boxing’s best and deepest division?
“The future of the super middleweight division is very bright, especially here in the U.S.,” said Andre Dirrell, who trails Arthur Abraham in the Super Six World Boxing Classic standings with two points. “European fighters have controlled the division recently, but all that has changed with what has happened in the Super Six.
“There are a lot of young, talented American fighters coming up the ranks who can make some noise in the division.”
Those talented 168-pound fighters will be on display come Friday night as unbeaten Marcus “Too Much” Johnson (18-0, 14 KOs) battles Derek “The Black Lion” Edwards (25-0, 13 KOs) in a 10-round main event live on ShoBox: The New Generation on Showtime at11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast.
The exciting tripleheader being billed “The Next Generation of Super Middleweights” will take place at the UIC Pavilion in Chicago with Don “Da Bomb” George (19-0-1, 17 KOs) facing Osumanu Adama (14-1, 10 KOs) in a 10-round co-feature tilt and Edwin “La Bomba” Rodriguez (14-0, 10 KOs) tangling with Kevin Engel (17-2, 14 KOs) in an eight-round affair to open the telecast.
Back in November of 2009, Johnson made his Showtime ShoBox: The New Generation debut on the Allan Green-Tarvis Simms undercard in Newkirk , Okla. , remaining undefeated with a unanimous decision over Victor Villereal.
Fast forward six months and now Green finds himself as one of the elite fighters in the Showtime Super Six World Boxing Classic and will meet Andre Ward June 19 in a Group Stage 2 matchup.
Green said he went back to watch Johnson on tape and was impressed with what he saw. “I think he’s a good fighter,” said Green. “The Super Six is all about proclaiming who is the best super middleweight on the planet and it looks like these guys are getting a chance to make a name for themselves on Showtime.”
Johnson is a former U.S. National Amateur champion who lost to Ward by decision in the finals of the 2004 Olympic Trials. He was also a gold medalist at the 2003 U.S. Under 19 National Championships at 178 pounds and won the National Silver Gold Gloves title at 165 pounds in 2001.
“Marcus is definitely a fighter to look out for in the future,” Ward said. “Anyone with that type of amateur background is on the right track toward a professional world title. I look forward to great things from him in the future."
Both Johnson and Edwards are impressed with what they’ve seen from the American fighters, Ward and Dirrell, in the Super Six Tournament.
“Andre Ward is one of the smartest people in the ring,” said Johnson. “He taught me a lot. I have so much respect for Andre. He made me change my style. I’ve been really impressed with both Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell. I think Ward is going to win the tournament hands down.”
Said Edwards: “Andre Ward has been the most impressive. I had the opportunity to be in Andre Ward’s camp but it didn’t work out because we might meet each other [in the ring] some day.”
Presented by DiBella Entertainment, Warriors Boxing and Chicago’s 8 Count Productions, advance tickets for “The Next Generation of Super Middleweights” starting at $31 can be purchased through Ticketmaster (www.ticketmaster.com), by phone (800) 745-3000 and the 8 Count Productions Office, (312-226-5800). Doors will open at 7 p.m. with the first bell at 7:30 p.m.
Nick Charles will call the action from ringside with Steve Farhood and Antonio Tarver serving as expert analysts. The executive producer of ShoBox is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.