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Kessler withdraws from Super Six

25
Aug

An eye injury has forced super middleweight titleholder Mikkel Kessler to withdraw from the Showtime network's Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament.

Kessler, the favorite to win the unique 168-pound tournament when it was announced, was 1-1 in the Super Six. The Danish star lost a one-sided 11-round technical decision to Andre Ward last October and an entertaining 12-round decision over Carl Froch in April in bouts that saw him lose and regain alphabet versions of the 168-pound title.

Kessler (43-2, 32 knockouts), who was scheduled to defend his title against Allan Green on September 25 in Denmark in a Group Stage 3 bout of the tournament, expressed his disappointment in having to withdraw in a statement released by Showtime on Wednesday.

“This is the most disappointing moment of my boxing career,” Kessler said. “After defeating Carl
Froch, I was on the way to win the tournament, so pulling out now really hurts. The eye problem has
bothered me since the beginning of the Super Six in my preparation for the bout against Andre Ward. It also bothered me in the fights against Ward and Froch, and in my training for the fight against Green it has become unbearable.

“I have consulted leading experts in Denmark and Germany and they have advised me to take a break from boxing so that the problem can heal. I have been assured that it will heal completely and that I will be back in the ring next year. As a fair
sportsman, I do not want to delay the Super Six, which is still the best thing that has happened to
boxing for a long time. I wish my fellow contestants the best of luck – may the best man win. I will be
there to fight the winner in 2011.”

Ken Hershman, the executive vice president for Showtime and the mastermind behind the Super Six, says the tournament will go on.

“I commend Mikkel Kessler for his decision,” said Hershman. “He has made a wise choice in light of
his doctors’ recommendations and he is showing tremendous respect for his fellow competitors and
for the tournament format itself.

“We will publicly address how this turn of events affects the tournament in the coming days. I assure you we will make the best of this scenario. In fact, I have been aware of Mikkel’s situation for a few days and I have a vision for how we can proceed that will enhance the excitement of the tournament. First, I must have some internal discussions but mark my words, the drama of the Super Six will be unrelenting and we will crown a champion in the early part of 2011.”

Hershman and the promoters involved in the Super Six — Dan Goossen, Gary Shaw, Lou DiBella, Mick Hennessey, and Kalle Sauerland, who represents Kessler and Arthur Abraham — have to decide if they want to try to find a replacement for Kessler or simply proceed to the semifinals, which is basically a four-man single elimination tournament.

Therein lies the network's dilemma. There doesn't appear to be a worthy available replacement for Kessler and to go directly to the semifinals — which pits the highest point holders against each other, in this case Abraham vs. Froch and Ward vs. Andre Dirrell — Green, who was a replacement for Jermain Taylor and currently has zero points in the tournament, would have to be kicked out of the Super Six.

Perhaps a deal can be reached with Green and his promoter, DiBella, as the semifinal bouts are the fights that fans want to see.

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