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Home Boxing Super Middleweight…Super Six…Super-Sick.
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Super Middleweight…Super Six…Super-Sick.

super_six_worldboxingSaturday may be the October 17 but the emphasis is clearly on two numbers: 168 and six.

The Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament (broadcast on Showtime, 8 PM ET/PT, 7 PM central) kicks off with an excellent two-city, doubleheader featuring former IBF middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham vs. former Undisputed Middleweight Champion Jermain Taylor (from the 02 World Arena in Berlin, Germany) and WBC titleholder Carl Froch vs. Andre Dirrell (from the Trent FM Arena in Nottingham, England).

To say that this tournament poses great risk to its participants is obvious since over half the fighters (Abraham, Froch, Dirrell and Andre Ward) competing are undefeated. The same percentage is represented in THE RING magazine ratings (Froch, Taylor, Ward and WBA titlist Mikkel Kessler) with Abraham and Dirrell currently unranked. By the end of it all, odds are solidly in favor of a World Super Middleweight Champion being crowned after the final bout.

Tournaments like this seldom come along due, mainly, to promotional territorialism. The last significant tournament dedicated to a specific division took place back in 2001 when Don King put together his World Middleweight Championship tourney that not only had a peachy-keen trophy in the likeness of Sugar Ray Robinson on the line, but the Undisputed Middleweight Championship as well. However, only four fighters took part on King’s tournament: then-WBC titlist Keith Holmes, then WBA middleweight titleholder William Joppy, then-IBF middleweight titlist Bernard Hopkins and fresh middleweight entrant, then-reigning WBA super welterweight titleholder Felix Trinidad. The entire tournament spanned five months (from April to September) and featured Hopkins defeating Holmes for the WBC title via unanimous decision in the first bout, Trinidad stopping Joppy in five for the WBA strap and, finally, Hopkins securing the Undisputed Championship over Trinidad by 12th round stoppage. Hopkins went on to successfully defend his championship six more times before losing a disputed split decision to Taylor in July of 2005.

Conspicuously absent in the planning of the tournament is IBF titlist Lucian Bute. The Montreal-based Romanian already has a defense of his belt scheduled for November 28 in a rematch against Librado Andrade but Bute’s absence isn’t terribly glaring. Whoever wins the Super Six World Classic could really cap things off nicely by defending against Bute; should the latter successfully defend his belt against Andrade. The same is easily applicable if Andrade beats Bute. In a sense, NOT participating in the tournament has its benefits.

However, the focus on Saturday night remains on our four starting players. I’m genuinely excited to see how Abraham-Taylor pans out. As a reigning middleweight titlist, Abraham had long been under the radar; making ten defenses of his IBF belt while being shined by the likes of Taylor and three-time titleholder Felix Sturm. Now, at 168, Abraham and Taylor are on somewhat similar ground, with Abraham securing one win amid his middleweight title reign; a June 2008 rematch against Edison Miranda (TKO 5). Since losing the Middleweight Championship to Kelly Pavlik in September of 2007, Taylor has gone 1-3 in super middleweight outings; losing by 12th round TKO to Froch in April.

Against Miranda in the rematch, Abraham gauged “Pantera” as the Colombian pressed the attack, suckering himself by falling into the Armenian’s trap. In the third round, Abraham opened Miranda’s guard with hard rights, making way for crippling lefts and setting up Miranda for the fall in the fourth. By far, a much more calculated, stronger showing by Abraham will rear its studious head once more on Saturday night.

Taylor, on the other hand, seemed more comfortable six pounds north of his championship weight (considered a catchweight for both fighters although Taylor hadn’t begun establishing himself at super middle just yet) but still came up short in a competitive unanimous decision loss in a February 2008 rematch to Pavlik.

Nine months later, Taylor would pitch a near shut-out against former Olympic teammate and ex-IBF super middleweight titleholder Jeff Lacy. To be fair, however, since his demoralizing loss to former THE RING magazine World Super Middleweight Champion (and later World Light Heavyweight Champion) Joe Calzaghe in March of 2006, Lacy was no longer his ferocious, old self; chalking up two majority decision wins out of three wins up to the Taylor fight.

Taylor, 28-3-1 (17), would face fellow Super Six participant Froch in April; a WBC title shot he earned in beating Lacy. Lacy looked strong early on, even dropping the Englishman in the third round. However, by the 12th round, Taylor had tired considerably and, although ahead on two judges’ scorecards, was floored by a hard Froch right hand. Smelling blood in the water, “The Cobra” went in for the kill and with 14 seconds remaining, forced referee Michael Ortega to pull the plug.

It’s by no accident that I’m predicting Abraham as a 10th round TKO winner over the former Undisputed Middleweight Champion. Abraham, 30-0 (24), has one hell of a chin and Taylor can only get caught up in his own expenditure of energy as he had done against Froch. Should “Bad Intentions” become economical with his offense, the story might differ, but the excitement of youth still sticks to Taylor like glue.

Speaking of Froch, expect a wild crowd in attendance at the Trent FM Arena in the WBC titlist’s home base of Nottinghamshire. The pressure to deliver in his first hometown defense may be staggering but the pressure will be greater on his also-undefeated opponent Andre Dirrell. Dirrell, an Olympic bronze medal winner at middleweight (165 pounds), has the pure fundamentals to achieve greatness but has less experience against opponents like Froch.

However, if Dirrell, 18-0 (13), can find the holes Taylor did in his outing against Froch –and he might just do so, “The Matrix” can make for a very even fight. To rely on his movement and superb conditioning truly would be a boon to the younger fighter. Once he confuses and laces Froch, 25-0 (20), there’s no reason Dirrell can’t win this fight…and the WBC belt in one fell swoop. Barring any homecooking, that’s where I’m going: Dirrell by unanimous decision over Froch in a performance that’ll not only open the eyes of the rest of the Super Six’s participants but fans of the super middleweight division and boxing in general.

Anything that can open the eyes of any of Our Sport’s most jaded fans is a good thing, whether it comes by a stunning performance by a young gun, an experienced titlist or ex-titlist or the success of a well-bandied premium network’s attempt to overhaul boxing. It’s a perfect pitch and equally perfect plan. The numbers speak for themselves. If you don’t believe it or you don’t think this is the right assembly of players for the Super Six World Boxing Classic and its downright entertaining potential, just look at the combined records for clarity: 163-4-1.

That’s right. They add up to 168. And that’s just super-sick.

Associate Editor Coyote Duran doesn’t typically do things in sixes. For instance, take White Castle. It’s gonna be seven cheeseburgers (with hot sauce) or nothin’, Howlers. If you’d like to know what steam-grilled burgers can do to the digestive tract of a guy named after a scavenging canid, please e-mail Coyote at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can also track Coyote at www.myspace.com/coyote_duran and www.facebook.com/CoyoteDuran or pile on some teeny, reconstituted onions at www.convictedartist.com/coyote_duran.html.


But he doesn’t “Tweet.” Sorry.

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