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Andre Ward & the Shocks and Surprises of the Super Six

By Gina L. Caliboso

It’s only January and I already feel like it’s a year to look forward to – sort of – in boxing, but first, some business still needs to be taken care of.

From 2010, the Showtime “Super 6” Super Middleweight Tournament still remains and with the semifinal rounds to take place, followed by, gulp – the final round, I wanted to give another recap about the tournament, but more so about how it’s really revealed the pleasant and unpleasant side of the mad and frustrating world of boxing.

First, I’ll start with the pleasant.

Out of the Super 6, I’d have to give the pleasant nod to the emergence of Andre “S.O.G.” Ward, 23-0, 13 KO’s. It has been an excellent opportunity for the young Oakland, California, fighter to become an even better boxer by fighting well with each fight. I predict he will win the tournament.

In his first fight against Mikkel “Viking Warrior” Kessler, 43-2, 32 KO’s, Ward successfully defeated him with an 11th round TD. Ward then followed up with a 12 round unanimous decision victory over replacement fighter Allan “Ghost Dog” Green, 29-3, 20 KO’s.

Finally, he fought, on a second viewing, what looked like a Muay Thai fight. There were headbutts and elbows being thrown in his bout against Sakio “Scorpio” Bika, 28-5, 19 KO’s. It was a physically challenging match for Ward, but he did win with a 12 round unanimous decision, however ugly. Ward now leads the tournament with 6 points. The young Ward will now face “King Arthur” Abraham, 31-2, 25 KO’s in one semifinal.

The second pleasant surprise was Andre “The Matrix” Dirrell, 19-1, 13 KO’s. In the first round against Carl “Cobra” Froch, 27-1, 20 KO’s, he went over to fight in Froch’s home territory in England. Although he lost the bout with a split decision, he did get a touch of international competition and learned about fighting decisions and getting a win. Dirrell was deducted a point in the 10th round for pulling on Froch, which I still don’t get because I call it “being in the clinch.” Also, he was winning over Abraham (which will be discussed later, of course).

Finally, as mentioned along with Ward, it’s wonderful to finally see Glen “Gentleman” Johnson, 51-14-2, 35 KO’s, re-emerge into the semifinal round against Froch. Johnson is a workhorse of a fighter, always engaging, always battling, but could never convince the judges. He defeated Green rather easily with an 8th round TKO. I like his chances against Froch and it will definitely be a battle. Both Johnson and Froch will have to establish authority in the fight early and I predict the fight will go 12 rounds in favor of Johnson.

The pleasant emergence of two fighters Ward and Dirrell coupled with the re-emergence of veteran fighter Johnson has re-vamped an interest in boxing. But now, on to the unpleasant surprises of the tournament, which also reveals some of the strangeness of how unpredictable boxing can be.

At the center of the unpleasant surprise lies Abraham. The brawling, unorthodox Armenian fighter was about to lose against Jermain Taylor, but slowly, “Bad Intentions” felt the fight slip away – as far as away and too close by any standard. In the 12th round, with a few seconds to close out a victory, Abraham scored a KO. With this loss, Taylor pulled out of the tournament.

In the second round of bouts, Abraham lost by DQ to Dirrell when he clearly hit him while he was on the canvas. I hate recalling this incident. Good call on the part of the ref, but Abraham looked surprised. Dirrell was not quite right after the bout. And to my surprise, an unfortunate surprise really, he pulled out of the tournament. Meanwhile, Green enters the tournament, but doesn’t put up much of a fight and loses to both Ward and Johnson.

To recap, Kessler and Froch go at it, and Kessler wins over Froch, but then pulls out of the tournament due to injury. Like I mentioned, this boxing tournament has been filled with the unpredictable.

When the tournament first started, I tuned in because I felt like the tournament was really about American fighters going up against European fighters. I hadn’t heard of Ward or Dirrell, but had known about Taylor. Then, as the first round started with such surprising results, I thought that the American fighters revealed a level of competition, intensity, depth, and even excitement about going against other European fighters. The points based, tournament elimination format revamped the notion that boxing can put fights together within a weight division with some rather high stakes.

As a boxing fan, I tuned in, cheered, and rooted for fighters I may have never known.

But as the Super 6 presses on, there is still one fighter that remains at the top with 4 competitors waiting to take him on. Canada’s Lucian “Le Tombeur” Bute, 27-0, 22 KO’s, is currently ranked #1 in the super middleweight division. Bute will have no shortage of fights in the near future.

However, I will argue that he needs to fight outside of Canada. It’s something that all boxers, all fighters, or at least all good fighters/boxers, need to do in order to put to rest any doubts that the judging in a hometown fight is, to say the very least, partial. Bute needs to fight in Vegas against Ward.

So there it is, a new look, or re-evaluation of the possibilities of the completion of the Super 6 tournament. As the tournament is now in its final stages, I can guarantee I’ll see it through to the end with Ward being the final winner. I can only hope there are no other surprises, because my goodness, what else can possibly happen? With the Super 6, and at this point, I’ll tune in, because I just don’t know either.

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