Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Super Six: Logical (and lucrative) for WBC
By Dan Rafael
In May, I wrote that hell may have frozen over because I agreed with the WBC on something. In that instance, I sided with the banditos for stripping junior middleweight titleholder Vernon Forrest of their title because of his blatant ducking of interim titleholder and mandatory challenger Sergio Martinez, who clearly deserved to fight for the full-fledged title.
Now, to my shock, I find myself agreeing with the WBC for the second time in three months. Crazy, huh?
In this case, I was delighted to hear from WBC president Jose Sulaiman that his organization was going to stay out of the way when it came to Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic, the super middleweight tournament that was officially unveiled this week.
"The WBC extends its full official authorization to the tournament and will absolutely cooperate and actively participate in any matter that may need our collaboration," Sulaiman said.
In the tournament, six of the top 168-pounders will meet in a series of fights in a round-robin over the 18 months beginning in the fall, with the top four advancing to the semifinals on a points system.
The exciting event includes WBC titleholder Carl Froch (hence Sulaiman's interest), WBA titleholder Mikkel Kessler, former undisputed middleweight champ Jermain Taylor, Arthur Abraham (who gave up a middleweight belt last week to join the party) and 2004 U.S. Olympic medal winners and rising contenders Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell.
Part of the deal the fighters and promoters agreed to with Showtime contained very specific language that explicitly says the tournament bouts take precedence over a mandatory defense, although Kessler will be permitted to make his overdue mandatory against the extremely undeserving Gusmyl Perdomo, probably in early September.
Although the tournament would have gone forward even without Sulaiman's blessing, it made sense for him to back the event, so I'm not going to make the WBC out to be a bunch of saints. But at least it got on board without any issues.
Froch holds the organization's title, while Ward, Froch and Taylor are its top 3 ranked contenders. Although Kessler holds a belt from a different organization, he has a relationship with the WBC because he used to hold one of its belts.
"I am personally very proud to see that under the leadership of Showtime, some of the most important promoters of the world will work together in what promises to be a very interesting series of fights involving the best fighters in the division," Sulaiman said. "The WBC has been very closely associated with most of them, and we are certain that the ultimate winner will be a hero to the world.
"To my dear promoters and friends, Gary Shaw, Lou DiBella, Mick Hennessy, Dan Goossen and Wilfried Sauerland, and to the managers of all the fighters, please accept my congratulations for making this happen. Boxing needs to stand up and make great events like this, which can only be accomplished with unity, reciprocity and hard work."
Although I generally disagree with Sulaiman on whether grass is green or the sky is blue, it's hard to disagree with that sentiment, even though the reasons for the WBC's decision probably have much more to do with business and the sanction fees that will roll in than anything more pure.