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Now in its second year, Showtime's 'Super Six' boxing tournament enters semifinals

Showtime's 'Super Six' boxing tournament has dragged on since October 2009 because of injuries, withdrawals and controversy. A semifinal between Andre Ward and Arthur Abraham is set for Saturday.

May 13, 2011|By Lance Pugmire
  • WBC super-middleweight champion Andre Ward and former middleweight champion Arthur Abraham pose during a news conference to promote their fight on Saturday at Home Depot Center.
WBC super-middleweight champion Andre Ward and former middleweight champion… (Kevork Djansezian / Bongarts…)

Put six teams in any kind of round-robin tournament, and a champion will probably be declared inside a month.

Showtime's "Super Six" super-middleweight boxing tournament began in October 2009, and Saturday marks just the beginning of the semifinal round with unbeaten Andre Ward of Oakland meeting Germany's Arthur Abraham at Home Depot Center in Carson.

The tournament, beset by injuries, withdrawals and controversy, is scheduled to conclude sometime in the fall — two years after its start — with a title-unifying bout at either Staples Center, Madison Square Garden or MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

England's Carl Froch will fight veteran U.S. challenger Glen Johnson in the other semifinal June 4 in Atlantic City.

The delays, on the heels of last month's injury postponement by bantamweight Joseph Agbeko in Showtime's other tournament, have reinforced the argument against staging multi-fighter contests.

"I love tournaments but not the 'Super Six' concept. It draws things out too long and brings back losers," said veteran fight promoter Bob Arum, who does not have a fighter in this tournament. "If you start with four or eight guys, and it's lose and go home, that would work. This tournament has become so confusing. Modeling it after the World Cup doesn't fit. This makes no sense."

Showtime Sports executive Ken Hershman answers that although there is peril in hosting a tournament in a dangerous combat sport, there's also value in pitting the best in the world in a division against each other — which the "Super Six" is still capable of accomplishing.

"I'm not troubled by the time it's taken," Hershman said. "That was the whole intent of this … that we'd have extended time where there'd be nonstop talk about this tournament."

Much of the talk has been negative, given the injury withdrawals by first-round knockout victim Jermain Taylor (retirement) and preliminary round losers Andre Dirrell (neurological condition) and Mikkel Kessler (eye).

Substitute fighter Johnson qualified for the semifinals with only one fight, knocking out another replacement, Allan Green, after Ward dominated Green in a June 2010 unanimous decision.

Showtime officials defend the attention that has been brought to a previously obscure division, and because they are on the brink of an entertaining Ward-Froch unifier that may have been difficult to arrange otherwise.

Ward (23-0, 13 knockouts) has especially benefited from the exposure. Before "Super Six" he'd been limited to fights in sites such as Lemoore, Cabazon and Temecula.

Ward weighed in at the super-middleweight limit 168 pounds Friday, while Abraham weighed in at 167.

The California State Athletic Commission announced one U.S. judge (California's James Jen-Kin), one German judge (Ingo Barrabas) and Stanley Christodoulou (South Africa) as officials for the Ward-Abraham bout. The referee will be Puerto Rico's Luis Pabon.

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