Britains WBA Super Middlweight champion Carl Froch as signed up with Showtime to fight in an all star boxing unification tournament. Since the tv program The Contender and Barry Hearns Prize fighter tournaments here in the UK, that saw Martin Rogan win the Heavyweight version, boxing tournaments and reality tv have started to become a popular fixture. This tournament though has the added differance that all the participents here are world class, world champions or former world champions.
American Tv Network chanel Showtime, announced its Super Six World Boxing Classic at a press conference at Madison Square Garden yesterday.
Six of the world’s best super middleweights, WBC champ Carl Froch, WBA champ Mikkel Kessler and. Arthur Abraham, Andre Dirrell, Jermain Taylor and Andre Ward round out the rest of the field.
The first three bouts, called the Group Stage 1, featrues Froch vs. Dirrell, Taylor against Abraham and Kessler against Ward. The tournament begins in October and runs through November 2011. Dates and venues will be announced in the coming weeks.
Senior vice president and general manager of SHOWTIME sports Ken Hershman explained how difficult it was to get everyone on the same page.
“It was quite complicated. We needed to this quickly and quietly,” Hershman said. “We started with the European pieces first, Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham.”
“After we finished up the American side, we went to work on the structure,” Hershman added. “It took two and a half months from start to finish.”
A tournament of this size had its skeptics. One question was how would the sanctioning bodies would react. Gary Shaw, who promotes Dirrell, read an email he received from the WBC, which gave the tournament its blessing.
Lou DiBella, who promotes Taylor, said he was impressed with the way Hershman and SHOWTIME went about planning the tournament.
“As a former TV executive,” said DiBella, who worked for HBO for 11 years. “The sports needs a jolt of adrenaline.”
DiBella said there “no issues” after first talking to Hershman about it. “When Ken explained the concept to me, I said ‘I’m in’,” said DiBella.
The tournament works on a point system. A fighter gets two points for a win, one point for a draw and zero points for a loss. After the three Group Stages are completed, the top four point scorers advance to the semifinal.
Each fighter is guaranteed three fights with the winner and runner-up getting five fights.
Taylor believes this tournament will be a defining moment for him. “I was sitting at home wondering who is next,” said Taylor. “This is it [for me]. It’s a blessing.”
For Dirrell, the least experienced fighter of the group, its a chance for him to put his name among the sport’s elite. “It’s my time. Everything’s falling into place,” said Dirrell. “This could help me become the greatest that ever lived.”
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