Friday, March 24, 2023  |


Super Six staying the course


Jermain Taylor (pictured) pulled out of the Super Six Boxing Classic after he was KO'd by Arthur Abraham in October. However, Ken Hershman of Showtime is pleased with replacement Allan Green. Photo / Emily Harney

Is one loss for a fighter the end of the world? The brains behind Showtime’s Super Six Boxing Classic believe not, and they’ve organized a competition that puts that position to the test, bringing a defeated fighter back immediately to face an opponent as dangerous as the one who just beat him.

Is one setback for a carefully constructed tournament the end of the world? Again, the brains behind Super Six believe not. Their attitude toward their product as a whole is the same as their attitude toward the fighters: If you happen upon a hitch, you regroup, adjust and come right back.

With one of the original six fighters having withdrawn from the tournament after Group Stage One and with two fights in Group Stage Two postponed because of injury, there’s a simmering feeling of dread among the boxing public. There’s a growing worry that the Super Six concept was too ambitious and depended too heavily upon keeping a large pool of athletes healthy for a lengthy period of time. Particularly with Andre Ward — who’s among the favorites to win the tourney at this point — having to postpone his fight with Allan Green last week because of recurring problems with his right knee, the instant reaction from many in the fight fraternity was that the Super Six steam train was coming off its tracks.

But instant reactions are usually emotion-based, and cooler minds at Showtime assure us no problem has arisen for which they were unprepared and the Super Six timeline remains almost unchanged.

Showtime boxing boss Ken Hershman understood the potential pitfalls of a tournament this complex and took every possible precaution while planning it out. He hasn’t been hit with a flush power punch yet, but he has taken several jabs of misfortune — Jermain Taylor pulling out after a knockout loss, Andre Dirrell suffering a back injury that delayed his fight with Arthur Abraham by three weeks and now Ward’s knee issues — and so far Hershman hasn’t blinked.

“We anticipated that there would be injuries or somebody having to back out,” Hershman said. “I think because we thought all that through and really had it well planned in terms of how to deal with it, that there have been relatively few real obstacles or detriments to the tournament and we’ve moved along quite smoothly. Allan Green came in as a replacement for Taylor. I think it was clear how that happened, that there was a provision in place to deal with that. We know that people get hurt in training camp, and we did get hit with two in a row, but I think our injuries have been relatively minor and relatively non-disruptive.

“In fact, the Dirrell-Abraham fight moves to a free preview weekend, which exposes Showtime and boxing and the tournament to that many more people, so it’s actually net-net a positive, and we move forward. The Andre Ward injury is something that we’re going to try to turn into a positive, in that it gives us more time to promote the fight.”

Obviously, if Ward needed to pull out of the tournament, that would be a bitter blow to the integrity of the competition, ensuring that there would be one of those pesky asterisks by the eventual winner’s name. But Hershman is confident that the Olympic gold medalist’s bout with Green will be rescheduled in a timely fashion, and Showtime is currently zeroing in on a June date. (“I don’t want to say exactly what date because I don’t want HBO to use it to program their schedule,” Hershman said with a wink.) And he insists the Super Six is still on track to end in mid-2011, no more than a month or two off of the originally planned pace.

One person who doesn’t share Hershman’s confidence is Allan Green — assuming, that is, that his public statements accurately reflect how he feels and aren’t just bluster for controversy’s sake.

“I honestly don’t think he will ever get in the ring with me,” Green said of Ward last week. “I don’t think this is a fight Andre Ward and his people ever wanted. ÔǪ If he were fighting Jermain Taylor, I’m sure he’d be good to go right now. ÔǪ If your knee keeps getting hurt, it could be something chronic and you’re probably not going to be ready in six weeks. If your knee is swollen, just take a cortisone shot, stop bitching and get your ass in the ring.”

Hershman strongly doubts that there’s truth to Green’s allegations, but he has no problem with Green making them.

“He should speak his mind if that’s what he believes,” Hershman said. “We’ve already been enjoying Allan’s participation and we think it was the right move, because he’s a very tough competitor, a big puncher and a great talker. We have a great mix of personalities, and his adds a unique component to the tournament.”

You can’t talk about a great mix of personalities in the Super Six without discussing the promoters. The American trio of Dan Goossen, Gary Shaw and Lou DiBella have stolen the show on the Super Six documentary series Fight Camp 360, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the conflict between the three of them (as well as the European promoters) ratcheted up a few notches if another fight or fighter falls out, not to mention what might happen when we reach the single-elimination portion of the tournament and the pressure increases.

Thus far, though, Hershman said, they’ve all been cooperative with regard to finding peaceful resolution to the challenges Showtime has faced.

“All of them have their own business to run and their own issues to campaign for, and there are times that they need to be cooperative and times that they need to sort of dig in and protect their interests,” Hershman said. “At the same time, I think they all enjoy being part of something bigger than just an individual fight. Maybe there are some things that you wouldn’t normally give up in the short term that you do for the benefit of the tournament in the long term because you know that it’s going to benefit your fighter and you as a businessperson.”

In the longest of long terms, the Super Six is about not only crowning a winner, but also changing the boxing business model somewhat. It’s an experiment into whether a tournament that’s part round-robin, part single-elimination, featuring six elite fighters, spread across a dozen matches, can be successful. And part of that experiment involves erasing the increasingly prevalent and often bad-for-business notion that perfect records are everything and losses are crippling.

“That’s certainly been an objective of ours for a long time, to change that mentality,” Hershman said. “I think this tournament will go a long way to prove to the fighters and the managers and the promoters that one loss doesn’t have to change anything. There will be people on the losing end here, we know that. When you have a tournament of six, it’s got to get down to two, and then down to one. The proof will be in the public perception after it’s over and how the public receives the guys who don’t make it to the finals.”

Right now, a large segment of the public just wants to see all of the fights come off and the best fighters make it to the end. Despite some hiccups between Stage One and Stage Two, Showtime has every intention of seeing that plan through.

Some circumstances are beyond anyone’s control. But if you don’t panic and, to borrow a boxing clich├®, roll with the punches, you stand a much better chance of finishing on your feet.


I’m certainly not going to get behind HBO exec Ross Greenburg’s stated opinion that American fans can’t differentiate between the two Klitschkos, but I do agree with what he was saying about Vitali’s comeback killing Wladimir’s momentum. Both Klitschkos gain respect (if not necessarily adoration) with each fight, but Wladimir’s claim to being a dominant heavyweight champion and some sort of successor to Joe Louis or even Lennox Lewis is hurt by the fact that there’s a second dominant heavyweight titleholder out there over whom he’ll never prove superiority. ÔǪ

Speaking of the Klitschkos, it’s no secret that many fans and insiders are rooting (somewhat futilely) to see one or both brothers get upended. Have times changed so much in the last 100 years that the boxing world is now seeking a great black hope? ÔǪ

And the Least Surprising Surrender Award goes to ÔǪ Carl Drumond! During the ring announcer’s introductions before his fight Saturday against Odlanier Solis, Drumond already had a look on his face that suggested he’d given up and was debating internally how many rounds he should go. ÔǪ

I’m not calling him my son, my love child, my adopted baby, my little brother or anything like that, but featherweight Jorge Diaz, who won a close eight-round decision over fellow unbeaten Alejandro Lopez on Saturday night, looks like a fun TV fighter worth keeping an eye on. And, frankly, Lopez might have a decent future too. ÔǪ

If anyone has Friday Night Fights ring announcer Tracy Thomas’ email address, please pass along this note: When reading a majority decision, you read the even scorecard first, then the other two, then the name of the winner. How is it that year after year, ring announcers keep finding ways to make such an easy task look difficult? ÔǪ

So Erik Morales wants Manny Pacquiao again, huh? In a related story, Kathleen Turner wants to play a romantic lead opposite Zac Efron this summer. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

Eric Raskin can be reached at [email protected] You can read his articles each month in THE RING magazine.