Showtime's Super Middleweight Tournament Made Official as World Boxing Classic

An announcement that many boxing fans were hoping for but not many thought would actually happen was made today in New York.

Somehow, some way, Showtime got six of the world's top super middleweights - overseen by five different promoters - to agree to take part in a round robin tournament, dubbed the World Boxing Classic, that will begin this October and run through the first part of 2011. As widely rumored ahead of time, the participants will be WBC titleholder Carl Froch, WBA titleholder Mikkel Kessler, former middleweight champs Jermain Taylor and Arthur Abraham and undefeated young Americans Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell.

According to today's press release, Froch and Kessler's belts will be on the line during their first tournament matches. It had previously been reported that any mandatory defenses dreamed up by the sport's sanctioning bodies would not interfere with the tournament, and Abraham has already relinquished his IBF middleweight belt in order to take part.

Each man is guaranteed three fights in the round robin portion, with two points given for a win (and a one-point bonus for a knockout), one for a draw and none for a loss. The boxers with the most points after three bouts will move on to the semifinals, with the winners facing each other to decide the whole thing.

Noticeably absent from the tournament field is IBF 168-pound titleholder Lucian Bute. Early reports had him turning down a spot in the tourney, but his representatives told ESPN's Dan Rafael last week that he was never invited.

Of the six men who will be competing, only two have faced each other before. That happened this past April, when Froch scored a memorable 12th-round KO of Taylor in a fight he was losing on two of the three official cards.

Though the complete schedule for the first round of the World Boxing Classic hasn't been made public yet, it's set to get underway on October 10 with a split-site doubleheader. Abraham will take on Taylor in Germany, while Froch will face Dirrell in the U.K.

Posted by The Franchise

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