The Super Six World Boxing Classic is finally here, and it's a damn good time to be a boxing fan. If you're like me, one of the things you always hope for is to see top fighters facing each other, and this tournament ensures that we'll be watching exactly that in the super middleweight division for the next year and a half or so.
The first two fights have some intriguing subplots. Arthur Abraham and Jermain Taylor were both champions at 160 pounds, and while Taylor has two fights under his belt at 168 (going 1-1), Abraham is making his first serious foray into the division.
He's physically the smallest man in the tourney, and that could turn out to be an important fact, because he's a serious threat to win the whole thing if he can translate his style to the higher weight class. Abraham is efficient and accurate, content to wait for the right time to let loose even if that takes a few rounds.
Taylor is the only man in the field for whom the event is something of a final stab at regaining elite status. His days as the undisputed middleweight champion seem far behind him now, and he heads in off of three losses in his last four fights.
If Taylor can use what looks like a significant reach advantage and keep Abraham at bay with his jab, he has a definite chance to make his statement. He's capable of some very smart boxing - it's easy to forget that he did some good things in his first loss to Kelly Pavlik and would have beaten Carl Froch is he could have held on for another 14 seconds - but he has to be able to put it togehter for 12 rounds, and his track record on that score is not good.
I think this fight will be closer than some will suspect based on each man's recent performances, as Taylor uses what he's learned fighting some truly top-notch competition to make it very competitive. Ultimately, I just believe that Abraham will show his true quality over 12 rounds, and with the home fans urging him on, King Arthur will earn a narrow but unanimous decision.
The other fight on the tournament's first night sees WBC super middleweight titleholder Carl Froch put his gold on the line against undefeated but relatively untested American Andre Dirrell. It shapes up as the champ's power and toughness against the challenger's flashy quickness in front of Froch's literal hometown fans in Nottingham, England.
It's really hard to know exactly what we've got in Dirrell, who is two years older than fellow participant Andre Ward but has been in even lighter to this point. It's no mystery that he has a solid amateur background as a former Olympic bronze medalist, has speed in both his hands and his feet and he can switch from his normal southpaw stance to an orthodox look any time and be comfortable either way.
The unknown is how he'll handle taking shots from a puncher like Froch, who proved he can bring the thunder even after going 12 rounds with his dramatic victory over Taylor earlier this year. We should know early on if he has an answer for the movement and hand speed of Dirrell, and if he does, it could be a long, painful night for the American.
This is the rare fight where no outcome would surprise me. There's a lot to like about Froch's experience and power (plus the friendly crowd and, perhaps, judges), but it's possible Dirrell's athleticism will trump those factors.
I'm going to go with my gut over my head for this pick. While acknowledging Froch could catch his foe with a fight-ending shot, I think Saturday will be a coming out party in the form of Dirrell winning by decision, which may be closer on the cards than it appears on television.
I like Abraham to wear Taylor down late and win by KO.
I will take Froch to wear Dirrell down late and win by decision.
Posted by The Franchise