Saturday, January 23, 2010
Green takes Taylor's spot in Super Six
By Dan Rafael
Super middleweight Allan Green will replace Jermain Taylor in Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament, promoter Lou DiBella said.
Green had been preparing for a Feb. 5 fight against Sakio Bika, a former winner of "The Contender" reality show, which was supposed to be a box-off to determine who would replace Taylor, who withdrew from the tournament Jan. 12.
Green had accepted the fight, but it was never finalized after Bika, for undisclosed reasons, elected not to go through with it.
That paved the way for Green (29-1, 20 KOs), 30, to go directly into Group Stage 2 of the modified round-robin tournament that includes five other top super middleweights: titlists Andre Ward and Carl Froch, as well as former titleholder Mikkel Kessler, former middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham and 2004 U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell.
Green's first fight will be the one Taylor was scheduled for, a title shot against Ward (21-0, 13 KOs) on April 17, probably in Ward's hometown of Oakland, where he upset Kessler in the opening round of the tournament in November.
"It's a great opportunity for him to be in the Super Six," DiBella said. "He was ready and willing and able to do the fight with Bika. It didn't happen, and I think there are actually a lot of people breathing a sigh of relief -- Showtime and Ward's people -- because the turnaround from Feb. 5 to April 17 was very quick considering the nature of how Allan and Bika fight. The chances of them coming out of the fight without a scratch was unlikely, which would have messed up the April schedule."
Taylor, the former undisputed middleweight champion, withdrew after losing for the fourth time in his last five fights, including three by crushing knockout. In the opening round of the Super Six, Abraham knocked him out cold with six seconds left in the 12th round on Oct. 17 in Germany. Taylor was briefly hospitalized with a severe concussion and short-term memory loss.
Since then, there was heavy pressure from his family and handlers to withdraw from the tournament, including from DiBella, who resigned as his promoter over concerns for his health a few weeks before Taylor made his decision.
"It wasn't like it was planned for Allan to take over for Jermain," DiBella said. "Had we not had the tournament available for us, we were in consideration to fight [titleholder] Lucian Bute [in April]. Allan would have had other opportunities. That said, I think Allan is the right guy for the spot.
"An American had dropped out and Allan was the best American 168-pounder that wasn't already in the tournament."
Green's greatest asset is his punching power.
"He has the Mighty Thor tattooed on his arm because he's a big puncher and carries the hammer of Thor," DiBella said. "He's a big puncher and that's his great equalizer. Ward is a tremendously talented boxer but if you get hit flush by Green, you're going to have problems, and I think that will be a real issue for Andre. That will make it an interesting fight."
Win or lose, Green would move on Group Stage 3 and face Kessler later in the year. However, Green, of Tulsa, Okla., enters the tournament at a disadvantage because he takes over Taylor's point total, which is zero.
Fighters earn two points for a win, a third point if they win by knockout, one point for a draw and no points for a loss. The fighters with the top four point totals after three fights will advance to the semifinals.
"He has a disadvantage, but he has that great ability to get the three points in any fight as well as anyone in the tournament outside of Abraham," DiBella said. "He was prepared to fight his way into the tournament by fighting Bika and the cancellation of that fight gave him the opportunity to walk in. Now it's up to him to take advantage of that opportunity."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.