Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Froch and Ward This Weekend, Lucian Bute Gets The Call

The Super Six World Boxing Classic or “Super Flop” presented by Showtime as some have said. The almost two year journey, that will determine the unofficial best fighter at 168 heads to the final two Saturday evening at Board walk Hall in Atlantic City. Showtime, because of luck does get a good final with Carl Froch and Andre Ward.

Ward and Froch fight to unify their WBA and WBC Super Middleweight titles. It was not supposed to work out that way, but Froch did what he had to do, and along the way, so did Ward. So we have a good final, and the last mega fight of 2011, one that is being classified as a potential fight of the year.

Six different promoters got involved in this venture with Showtime. Seven of the supposed elite from the division were either in or out. Injuries and eliminations were a theme from the beginning. The first two fights of the Classic took place October 17, 2009, at two different venues. Arthur Abraham got a 12th round TKO over Jermaine Taylor, at the 02 Arena in Berlin Germany.

And on the same night, from the Trent FM Arena, in Nottingham England, Froch defended his World Boxing Council title against Andre Dirrell by split decision. Little did we know then because Abraham and Dirrrell, the two potential favorites would not be the last two men standing.

“This tournament has been a whole different level for boxing,” commented Dan Goosen, the promoter of Ward. “One that can’t be accomplished that often because I don’t believe it’s an easy task to get six of the best fighters in any one division to pre-agree to fight one another in a continual tournament, win, lose or draw.”

Of course, executives at Showtime were thrilled to hear that comment at the final press conference in New York City Tuesday afternoon. Ken Hirschman, who put this concept together as head of Showtime Boxing, was not there. Come January 9th, he begins his reign as boxing czar at HBO sports.

And for Ward and Froch, this fight is a culmination of desire and now with more significance. They take the spotlight as a major fight to end the year. There is mutual respect with the two. And they agree, Lucian Bute, who opted for other opportunities, will have to get by the winner in order to say he is the best at 168.

Bute, not to take anything away from his respectability, may have missed his opportunity by taking his name off the original Super Six. At no juncture did he consider entering the tournament, and when injuries saw the veteran Glen Johnson enter the fold, only to lose in one of the semifinals bouts to Froch, well, Bute was fighting elsewhere.

“Lucian Bute isn’t even in the discussion,” said Froch. “I know he’s the IBF champion but two names on his record are Brian Magee and Gen Johnson, that’s it. He lost to a guy named Librado Andrade. He actually got KO’d. The referee picked him up off the floor, washed his windshield 40 seconds later and the bell was rung and he won on points.“

Froch added, “But in my opinion he was knocked out. Lucian Bute needs to fight some of the top level people before he can call himself the best or one of the top three in the world.” That is exactly why this tournament may have never been taken seriously.

Though the winner gets two belts in the division, and takes home a Silver Cup, perhaps the so called best super middleweight, that being Bute, is not being taken seriously Had he been there, it may have been more interesting because all three titles at 168 would be contested, and there would be the unusual unified champion in boxing.

To which Ward said, “Lucian Bute needs to fight the winner of this fight to be the best. That’s just the bottom line. No disrespect to Lucien Bute but he’s fought B- and C level competition. But it’s like he’s preserving himself, just trying to wait for the winner of this tournament while Carl and I have been putting in a lot of hard work.“

Putting this in perspective, as Ward says, “He (Lucien) has to come to us. We won’t have to go to him.”

And, maybe that was the strategy of Bute. The eventual plan put in indirect words from Goosen and Eddie Hearn, promoter of Froch, is for Bute to fight the winner. “You dream of fights like this,” says Hearn who has superior fighters in London. “Eliminate the politics and just let the best fight the best every time.”

And so we have a final, again with plenty of implications. Can Ward and Froch put on a clean show that could be considered a fight of the year candidate? “I will be trying to hit Andre Ward in the face,” said Froch. His target, maybe the injured right or left eye of Ward that Froch admits, he did not know “where his cut was,” which forced a postponement and delay of the fight.

“People only give the warrior tag if you get cut every other fight or you’re in a fight of the year candidate every other fight,” says Ward. “But I’m a warrior and I’m coming to win something and take something.”

For Showtime it is something that will hopefully take them into the next year with optimism. And for the skeptics of this tournament concept to say, it was a worthwhile two year journey.

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