Showtime’s Super Six stumbled back onto center stage with the first of its semi-finals as Andre Ward of California defending against Germany’s Armenian hero Arthur Abraham. It was another smooth performance from Ward who overwhelming outpointed the former IBF middleweight champion, working well from behind the jab to keep the big swinging brawler at bay. Ward was fully deserving of the lopsided scores given to him by all three judges, with Inside Fights scoring it 118-110 in his favor.
The fight however came across as being flat. Indeed it seemingly played second fiddle on Saturday night to Showtime’s airing of Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley. It didn’t help matters that Arthur Abraham had in his last two outings in the Super Six was clearly defeated by Andre Dirrell and Carl Froch. With his previous outings shows a lack of ringmanship and the failure of his power to translate at a higher weight, the onetime King Arthur had no business being in a world title match.
And that is perhaps the big story that has been missed about the Super Six semi-finals, that embarrassingly for a tournament designed to ensure the biggest matches in the division happened, both Ward and WBC Champion Carl Froch have been given opponents of dubious relevance at 168Ibs. If he wasn’t locked into the tournament one would have to think that after the Froch defeat Abraham would have given up the experiment of trying to prove himself a world class Super Middleweight by either moving back down to his old 160Ibs stomping grounds or returning to the German circuit. Likewise while Glen Johnson’s career resurrection may offer the potential of a crowd pleasing comeback for the popular veteran one cannot ignore the fact that before replacing Mikkel Kessler the ‘Road Warrior’ hadn’t fought at the weight in over ten years.
And it’s not like there aren’t genuinely big matches to make at the Super Middleweight Division. Carl Froch and Andre Ward stand alone as the genuinely world class fighters left in the tournament and a match between the two would an intriguing test for both men. Ward would be well place to test the same flaws in Froch’s game that his former training partner Andre Dirrell exposed when challenging the WBC Champion in the first round of the tournament. Froch meanwhile has the size, power and unorthodox style to put Ward under pressure and potentially bully the Olympian should Ward crack. The tournament format stopped Showtime from getting to the point and booking the match that we all want to see now.
From the start it was claimed that the Super Six would conclusively determine who the best Super Middleweight in the world was. The prospect of it finally reaching a climax should not blind us to the fact that whoever wins this ‘boxing classic’ will have proven nothing of the sort. The final will of course crown a new Unified Champion, but the WBC half of that pair of belts will have a heavy asterisk next to it due to the reemergence of former champion Mikkel Kessler after a year away from the ring due to problems with his eyes. Likewise Andre Dirrell is currently preparing to make a comeback after his controversial exit from the competition due to apparent neurological problems. And then there’s the IBF Champion Lucian Bute who having stayed absent from the competition entirely has built a strong claim to be regarded as the top fighter in the division after seven defenses of his world title. Both Kessler and Bute will fight in Europe against lesser competition this summer, with rumors swirling that Showtime will look to book them against each other this winter.
The fact is that the prestige of the Super Six has been damaged by the withdrawal of Mikkel Kessler, Andre Dirrell and the absence of Lucian Bute. Ward has booked his place in the tournament finals, but he is certainly more than one victory away from proving himself the best Super Middleweight in the world.