Ken Hershman and SHOWTIME have managed to do the most unusual thing in boxing. They’ve done the right thing.
The right thing happens in boxing outside the ring about as often as Haley’s Comet passes by your window. These guys do the right thing about as regularly as Bernie Madoff invested his client’s money.
So when it was announced this week that Allan Green had been chosen to replace Jermain Taylor in SHOWTIME’s brilliant Super 6 Super Middleweight tournament the news was welcomed by any true fan of the sport not because Green was the only possible choice but because the plan all along had been for Green to serve as first alternate and the folks running the show actually did what they said they’d do.
After Taylor was knocked cold by Arthur Abraham, his fourth defeat in his last five fights and the third by knockout, speculation was that Taylor would remove himself from further participation. Although he seemed to balk at that initially, ultimately Taylor listened to his family and advisors and pulled out of the tournament. That’s when things began to go awry as they often do in this sport.
By the time Taylor pulled out, Green (29-1, 20 KO) was set to fight Sakio Bika, the former Contender participant, and there had already been calls from promoter Dan Goossen that Green should have to fight Edison Miranda in a box-off. At that rate, Green would have had to win a tournament to get into a tournament.
But the Bika fight went away as it should have (probably in exchange for a paycheck) and Green was added to the mix without having to even nod in Miranda’s direction and rightfully so, taking over Taylor’s scheduled April 17 fight against Andre Ward. Although one could make a strong case for the inclusion of the one major super middleweight champion not in the tournament, Lucien Bute, the fact of the matter is there have been three European fighters and three Americans involved from the start. When Taylor pulled out it opened an American slot and the guy who had been unofficially promised it actually got it.
More importantly, he should be in it. Green is a fearsome power puncher who will be competitive against Ward and any of the other combatants. He didn’t deserve to be made the victim of the usual boxing poli-tricks, as Lennox Lewis used to put it, of being forced to fight in some sort of half-assed boxoff that would have only served to muddy the waters.
Instead, for once, common sense prevailed. One American fighter was out. He was replaced by a guy who clearly is the next best American super middleweight fighting today. Bravo!
This made so much sense it’s shocking that boxing actually embraced it but it did and give Hershman the credit because, in the end, it’s SHOWTIME’s show and they can do what they will or may with it. What they did, one way or another, was replace a guy who probably never should have been in the tournament in the first place except for his name value with a guy who could very easily knock out Ward or any of the four other competitors, a fact that adds some spice to the entire affair.
Because of the fact Green will inherit Taylor’s empty scorecard he is at an obvious disadvantage but a knockout win, which is his specialty, immediately nets him three points. Do that twice and he’s as likely to reach the semi-finals as anyone.
More importantly, if Green wants to move on to the Final Four fights he will be forced to go for the knockout against Ward in his first fight and against Mikkel Kessler in his second. If nothing else the pointless position he inherits from Taylor should add some fire to a guy who normally comes to the arena with the intention of leaving someone unconscious anyway.
So, in the end, boxing got it right this time and deserves credit for it. It is a small step back from the abyss after the debacle of the failed Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao negotiations but we’ll take it in the hope Ken Hershman’s decision will open up a few more eyes to the way boxing should be run.