Tournament more like Super Five than Six

June, 23, 2010
6/23/10
11:38
AM ET
Your weekly random thoughts ...

• So maybe Showtime should have called it the Super Five World Boxing Classic instead of the Super Six, because that sixth spot is a disaster.

Jermain Taylor, who didn't belong in the field in the first place but made it in on the strength of having the biggest name, got pulverized by Arthur Abraham in their opening bout in the fall. Following the brutal 12th-round knockout loss, Taylor, who suffered a brain bleed as a result, wisely withdrew from the super middleweight tournament.

He was replaced by Allan Green, who had never scored a major victory in his career before coming in as an alternate. Green was even worse than Taylor, fighting like a rank amateur and getting embarrassed in a shutout decision to Andre Ward on Saturday. So while Ward is 2-0 in the tournament with two dominant victories, and Abraham, Andre Dirrell, Mikkel Kessler and Carl Froch are 1-1, all having had good moments and some bad, the two guys out of the six-hole have been a complete mess.

What the poor performances from Taylor and Green have shown me is that as great as the Super Six has been overall -- and make no mistake, I am a major fan of it -- Showtime's Ken Hershman, the tournament mastermind (for which he does deserve props) was shortsighted in not initially inviting Lucian Bute to join. Bute is clearly one of the top 168-pounders in the world -- I rank him No. 2 behind Ward -- has an enormous fan base in Montreal and isn't afraid to face real competition. It struck me as odd from day one that Bute, who was available, wasn't invited to join, especially since Showtime had televised his two bouts previous to the start of the tournament.

After being left out, Bute found a nice home on HBO, which has shown his last two bouts (impressive knockouts against Librado Andrade and Edison Miranda) and has contractual rights going forward.

So while I am looking forward to Group Stage 3 of the Super Six in the fall, and the semifinals and final, which should be completed by the late spring or early summer next year, the reality is that whomever wins it all will still have one more bout to win before he can truly be crowned super middleweight king. That will be against Bute, as long as he keeps winning.

• They're not talking about it publicly, and there's always a chance it won't happen, but Top Rank and HBO PPV are looking at Dec. 4 as the date for a possible Antonio Margarito-Miguel Cotto rematch. Margarito, of course, still needs to be licensed in the United States. And, of course, if Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. doesn't happen, all bets are off because Margarito and Cotto could become opponents for Pacquiao's November fight.

• As an utter non-soccer fan, I'm thinkin' I'd rather watch old John Ruiz fights than World Cup games. While discussing our mutual dislike of soccer with Max Kellerman of CNN and HBO, we joked about the Ruiz scenario. Then I suggested I'd rather watch Chris Byrd's waltz with DeVarryl Williamson instead of soccer. Maybe even Michael Moorer's all-time stinker with Vaughn Bean. Then Kellerman jokingly (I think) said that watching soccer made him pine for Henry Akinwande fights. That's where I drew the line. I would, in fact, rather watch soccer than Akinwande fights.

• It's unfortunate, but it looks like the only way Celestino Caballero is going to get a fight is if he walks into a bar and hits on another guy's date. Won't anyone fight this guy?

• While I would love to see featherweight titlist Juan Manuel Lopez face Caballero or Yuriorkis Gamboa, I also really like the idea of him facing Rafael Marquez in September on Showtime. If Lopez takes care of business July 10 against Bernabe Concepcion and then beats Marquez, it will make Lopez a much bigger star and make fights with Caballero and Gamboa that much more lucrative. And if Marquez, a veteran in the twilight of a tremendous career, defeats the young gun, it would make Marquez a lock Hall of Famer for anybody who still has a doubt.

• As I wrote last week, I love the idea of a junior welterweight tournament. It's a good division at the top with a number of quality fighters. But you really don't need a tournament to crown a No. 1 fighter in the division. All you need is Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander to fight each other, assuming each wins in summer HBO bouts already scheduled. Most folks rank them as the top two fighters in the division and between them they hold three of the major belts with Amir Khan, who has the other belt, not interested in facing them yet. They don't need Khan to make a big fight as long as they have each other and as long as they have HBO ready, willing and able to put up good money. If Alexander and Bradley fight late this year or early next year, the winner will without question be regarded as the No. 1 fighter at 140 pounds. Then the new king can look to big fights with Khan, Marcos Maidana, Zab Judah, Victor Ortiz and others.

• I'm looking forward to seeing junior featherweight titlist Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. back in action soon. He's an exciting young fighter who will eventually add even more depth to a very solid featherweight division when he inevitably moves up in weight.

• Paging Guillermo Jones.

• Following his recent debacle with Nikolai Valuev, I heard Don King just accepted $10 million for Felix Trinidad to have a rematch with Oscar De La Hoya.

• Now that the International Boxing Hall of Fame class of 2010 has been inducted, it's pretty easy to tab the two biggest names who will be eligible next year and surely voted in on the first ballot (at least they will be on my ballot): former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson and former junior welterweight champ Kostya Tszyu, both of whom had their last fights a week apart in June 2005. If both can hold off on what would be ill-advised comebacks for a little while longer, they're both slam dunks.

• Randall Bailey where are you? I'm in the mood for a pulverizing knockout.

• Put Ward's outstanding talent aside for a minute. Besides being a tremendous fighter and super middleweight titleholder, the man is also a class act. I thought it was a wonderful gesture that he came into the ring for his fight against Green on Saturday night with this message stitched into the back of his robe: "Nick Charles, Praying for You." Ward, of course, was sending out his message loud and clear to the beloved Showtime commentator battling cancer. It was a great thing for Ward to do and I know he spoke for many people in the boxing community and fans around the world.

• Annoying remark of the week: Showtime's Gus Johnson referring multiple times to broadcast partner Antonio Tarver as "champ" during the Ward-Green telecast. Tarver has not held a title for a couple of years. This is professional television, not a fan club meeting.

• Speaking of Tarver, it didn't come as much of a surprise when he announced he would return as a heavyweight. While I wish him luck, it's hard to believe he'll do anything except serve as a good name for some other heavyweight to beat. Tarver is 41, hasn't fought in more than a year and was outclassed in back-to-back losses to Chad Dawson. If he can't beat Dawson, or even be competitive, how is he going to deal with a top heavyweight? Tarver called out Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko and David Haye. All three would blow him away. In the movie "Rocky Balboa," Tarver played heavyweight champ Mason "The Line" Dixon. In real life, Tarver would be in for a much ruder awakening.

• We're not even halfway through the year and already there are two candidates for worst challengers of 2010, fighters who got huge opportunities in major championship fights and didn't do a thing in being wiped out in decision losses. And the nominees are: Green, for talking a big game and doing zilch against Ward, and Joshua Clottey, who probably threw fewer punches in 12 rounds against Pacquiao than Pacquiao throws in the dressing room warming up for a fight.

• Happy birthday, Shelly Finkel, the newly minted Hall of Fame manager who turns 66 on Sunday.

• DVD pick of the week: This one isn't for the squeamish, but I received a DVD recently of one of the bloodiest fight I have ever seen. It was June 10, 1978, in Oklahoma City, where renowned bleeder Sean O'Grady, three years before winning a lightweight title, faced Japan's Shig Fukuyama in a junior lightweight slugfest that turned into a gory horror movie. Fukuyama cut O'Grady over the right eye in the first round and over the left eye in the second round. O'Grady's face poured blood, covering him and eventually his opponent. In any other venue in the world, the fight surely would have been stopped. But not in Oklahoma City, O'Grady's hometown. In the fifth round, O'Grady badly cut Fukuyama and dropped him. Moments later, with Fukuyama bleeding (but not as badly as O'Grady), the referee stopped the fight, giving O'Grady a gruesome victory and me a sick feeling.

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