by Simon Garner
On the 5th February this year, the man considered the king at 168lb, Joe Calzaghe retired from boxing. In doing so, he left somewhat of a void in the super middleweight division. What we’ve been left with, is a number of good fighters with varying degrees of experience, but no one who stands out.
The best case that’s been made for the throne came back in April when Carl Froch dramatically stopped Jermain Taylor in the final round of the WBC title bout. A fight which Taylor largely dominated until the later rounds only for him to tire and for Nottingham based fighter to take advantage.
The likes of Andre Ward and his namesake, Andre Dirrell have both fought since the retirement of Calzaghe but neither has stamped a big impression on the boxing world. The same can be said for Mikkel Kessler, the current WBA champion, a man who fought well against Calzaghe back in 2007, but has only entered the ring to face the likes of Dimitri Sartison and Danilo Haussler in recent times.
The other big name left in the division is ‘King’ Arthur Abraham, who despite his regal title has yet to make significant inroads in the division, with his only win coming last year in a rematch against Edison Miranda. A man who was also recently defeated by Andre Ward
Therefore, due to the confusion in the division, a plan was devised by Ken Hershman, the head honcho of boxing at Showtime to make all of the aforementioned combatants fight it out to find out who is the best in the divison.
The concept devised is an ingenious and unique one, never tried to such an extent before in boxing: a modified round-robin tournament to create an undisputed divisional leader. The winner of each bout will receive three points for a KO victory and two points for a decision. One point will be awarded for a draw. The preliminary rounds will begin in October and each participant will engage in three initial bouts. From this, the top four highest points scorers will advance to the semi-finals in January 2011. The winners will then fight in the final in May/June 2011.
This tournament is similar to others of yesteryear that sought to establish lineage in a crowded divison. The most recent example of this came in a smaller game back in 2001 when the top middleweights fought to establish a champion. First, the Executioner, Bernard Hopkins outpointed Keith Holmes. Then Felix Trinidad knocked out William Joppy. And finally, Hopkins shocked the world by putting on a boxing masterclass and finally stopped the seemingly unbeatable Tito to become the first undisputed champion at 160 since Marvin Hagler.
In contrast the super-middleweight division hasn’t been without a leader for nearly as long. However, by bringing together the top fighters at the weight, all under different promoters, is something that should be applauded. The “Super Six” tournament will turn heads and as Lou DiBella put it recently, it will provided an “international jolt of adrenaline for boxing”
In Part 2, I will consider all the participants, their strengths, their weaknesses and their chances of victory. Finally, I will then state who I think will be crowned as champion in 2011.