Ward eases past Abraham at Super Six
Showtime’s Super Six stumbled back onto center stage with the first of its semifinals on Saturday night.
Andre Ward of California defended successfully against Germany’s Armenian hero Arthur Abraham. It was another smooth performance from Ward, who overwhelmingly outpointed the former IBF middleweight champion, working well from behind the jab to keep the big swinging brawler at bay. Ward was fully deserving of the lopsided scoreline given to him by all three judges, with Inside Fights scoring it 118-110 in his favor.
The fight, however, came across as being flat. Indeed, it seemingly played second fiddle on Saturday night to Showtime’s airing of Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley. It didn’t help matters that Abrahams was clearly defeated by Andre Dirrell and Carl Froch had in his last two Super Six outings. With his previous outings showing a lack of ringsmanship and the failure of his power to translate at a higher weight, the onetime King Arthur had no business fighting in a world title match.
And that is perhaps the big story that has been missed about the Super Six semifinals. Embarrassingly, for a tournament designed to ensure the biggest matches in the division happened, both Ward and WBC Champion Froch have been given opponents of dubious relevance at 168 pounds. If he wasn’t locked into the tournament, one would have to think that after the Froch defeat, Abraham would have given up the experiment of trying to prove himself a world class super middleweight. He should have either moved back down to his old 160-pound stomping grounds or returned to the German circuit.
Likewise, while Glen Johnson’s career resurrection may offer the potential of a crowd-pleasing comeback for the popular veteran, one cannot ignore the fact that before replacing Mikkel Kessler, the "Road Warrior" hadn’t fought at the weight in over 10 years.
It’s not as if there aren’t genuinely big matches to make at the Super Middleweight Division. Carl Froch and Andre Ward stand alone as the genuinely world-class fighters left in the tournament, and a match between the two would an intriguing test for both men. Ward would be well placed to test the same flaws in Froch’s game that his former training partner Andre Dirrell exposed when challenging the WBC Champion in the first round of the tournament.
Froch, meanwhile, has the size, power and unorthodox style to put Ward under pressure and potentially bully the Olympian should Ward crack. The tournament format stopped Showtime from getting to the point and booking the match that we all want to see now.
From the start, it was claimed that the Super Six would conclusively determine the best super middleweight in the world. The prospect of finally reaching a climax should not blind us to the fact that whoever wins this "boxing classic" will have proven nothing of the sort.
The final will of course crown a new Unified Champion, but the WBC half of that pair of belts will have a heavy asterisk next to it because of the reemergence of former champion Mikkel Kessler — eye problems kept him away from the ring for a year. Likewise, Dirrell is currently preparing to make a comeback after his controversial exit from the competition due to apparent neurological problems. And then there’s the IBF Champion Lucian Bute who having stayed absent from the competition entirely has built a strong claim to be regarded as the top fighter in the division after seven defenses of his world title. Both Kessler and Bute will fight in Europe against lesser competition this summer, with rumors swirling that Showtime will look to book them against each other this winter.
The fact is that the prestige of the Super Six has been damaged by the withdrawal of Kessler, Dirrell and the absence of Lucian Bute. Ward has booked his place in the tournament finals, but he is certainly more than one victory away from proving himself the best super middleweight in the world.