When Showtime unveiled their innovative new product, the expectation level of boxing fans had already reached impossible heights. Pinning arguably the six best super middleweights on the planet against each other in a round robin format was something unprecedented in the new era, and Ken Hershman was under pressure to deliver success from the get go.
In the minds of the public, everything was going to pan out perfectly, with the six combatants competing in evenly matched bouts with no controversy in sight. What unravelled over the course of twelve months was a rollercoaster ride like no other.
From Lucian Bute’s out-of-tournament success to the appointment of Laurence Cole as the referee for Dirrell-Abraham, every negative point surrounding the unique tournament was being blown out of proportion by the media, decreasing the tournament’s stock. Viewing figures were down, and fan interest was at its lowest point as the tournament politics kept turning fans away.
Then, in a matter of a month, the Super 6 Boxing Classic loses two potential semi-finalists in Andre Dirrell and Mikkel Kessler. Dirrell has pulled out today with an undisclosed injury (some report it as a neurological problem), but it’s been no secret that Dirrell did not want to fight Andre Ward. Both are close friends and weren’t so keen on the idea of having to engage in a twelve-round contest, whatever the money that was on offer. Dirrell is the third fighter from the original line-up to have pulled out, joining the aforementioned Kessler and former middleweight champion, Jermain Taylor, as casualties.
There’s no point for Showtime to deny it, the tournament is going nowhere. Of course, they’ll keep the tournament going until its completion in the Summer of 2011, but from my standpoint and many others that share my view, it’s utterly pointless. Half the field has pulled out and there is one clear front-runner and house favourite on show. We have a fight between Allan Green, who struggled to make the 168-pound limit in his non-event against Ward, and another replacement in Glen Johnson, an old fighter that hasn’t made the weight for a decade, for what exactly? Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham’s back-and-forth venue debacle has forced it to end up in the stupidest location possible, Helsinki, Finland. The biggest dilemma of all is who’s going to replace Dirrell? There’s nobody, bar Lucian Bute, that makes an intriguing fight against Ward, and we all know that Bute is getting paid double with HBO.
Dirrell’s withdrawal makes the Super Six meaningless. Taylor’s departure was a moot point, Kessler’s eye injury was a hammer blow, but Dirrel’s ‘injury’ has officially killed it. Every ounce of momentum the tournament had built up is now lost. Praise to Ken Hershman for his ambitious idea, but it didn’t get the chance to get going, and it’s time to move on to a fresh start with the bantamweights in December.