MONACOORHELSINKIOR BUST - Justa few weeks back,the Super Six tournament wasin danger of becominga well intentioned disaster zone. Nowtheres light at the end of the tournament tunnel. What a difference a day and a few Glen Johnson hooks make. Johnsonprovided jump start revitalization with a knockout the tourney wassorely inneed of after recent repeated disappointments and cancellations.Now, with some class acts returning to the square stage this weekend, Showtime andoptimistic fans may get a well deservedrumbling reward.
After each initial Super Six entrantposed for the introductoryphoto ops it didnt take long forpromotional interests to clog things up. Simple math mashing provided adiscouraging indication of just how hungry, dedicated or fan friendlythe participants and their patrons really were.
Between inevitableunforeseen injuries and questionable posturing it almost looked like pulling the plug would be a merciful andlogical, if unsatisfying, conclusion.
Showtime may have had too much good faith in the beginning. That doesnt mean it wont be rewarded. It looks quite possible that the tournament will heat up again like a Finnish sauna amidst a frozen landscape.
Theres more good news. Unless somebody slides into the skids on Helsinki ice, it looks like Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch are actually going to fight for the WBC belt.With that meeting theSuper Sixhas an engagement that should be a candidate for Fight of the Year.
Theres even icing on the conking cake as tourney leader Andre Ward meets Sakio Bika in aWBAtitle fight.Bika will have to up his game to make his fight as competitive as thingson the Baltic coast look to get.
Meanwhile, the debate about whether or not Johnson is equal to Andre Dirrell or MikkelKessler became mootastheyended up with problems beyond their control and were forced to withdraw. Johnson was a positive replacement, quite possibly a gain.
Ward, through charismatic class and clean personality, had emerged as the sentimental favorite and gold standard. That hasnt changed.
In Johnsons case a combination of ernest work ethic and history of classwhile performing at an elite levelmeans itsquitepossible Johnson enjoyedeven more of a fan base than any of the originalSuper Six already.Immediate feedback seemed heavily favorable toward his performance, and he tied Abraham for points.
Johnson and Ward have nailed down a spot but who they face in the next bracketis interesting and probablynot easy to call.
Ill plead completeignorance, even insanity,regarding thelikelihoods and logics of leather when it comes to Showtimes super-middleweight extravaganza. The two guys I picked prior to the brackets openings (Kessler and Jermain Taylor)were both gone before the second stage.
The Super Six was supposed to eliminate anyquestionsbut for a while it looked like the high road of hopemight get flooded by the sewer of reality. Then along came Johnson and suddenly things were back on track.
As always, odds are it wont stay that way.
From now on, contrary to what its looked like so far,promoters should show extragood faith and give some concessions for thebenefit of the game. Ifanyone wantsto call themselves super,they should act like it. That way, as intended, the tourneys seeding will eventually determine the proper champion.
Best against the best. Last man standing. Whoever survives the Super six gauntlethas an undisputable, legitimate claim to 168 pound honors.
As they say after learning the ropes: knot.
Declaring a champion in 2011doesnt have to mean the end of the line for the 168 pound tournament jousting.
Lucian Butes signing with Showtime could be seen as both a conclusive effort to include all of the very best 168 pounders in the current landscape, and it serves asinsurance fora virtual monopoly on the division no matter what happens in the tourney. Bute has foughtjust as much as any one in the tourneysince the Super Six kicked off.
Sergio Martinez earned something to say if he decides to move up. Maybe he and Bute could fight to see who gets the Super Six winner, though its been highly mumbled that Kessler has that shot guaranteed upon his return.
If Kessler returns, that is.
It seems the nature of the 168 pound tournament beast holds as many questions as answers.
So, now for this weekends picks. One isseemingly obvious, one is likethe old two-headed coin flip trick, but whose head gets spun?
Ward should pitch a shutout against Bika, who could claim the upset of the year with a surprise.
Froch TKO 9 Abraham.It seems Froch was very wise to postpone meeting Abraham for almost eight weeks. Whether or not Frochs back injury was a justifiable reason, the vibe has shifted toward him. Unless Abraham shows he can adapt histechnique to more boxing and less slugging, hes going to go from one of the favorites to must win circumstances.
Whoever comes out aheadin Helsinki and Oakland Saturday night, theSuper Six looks likea winningcircumstance once again.
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