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The Curse of the Super Six

Photo © Jon Swenson
Photo © Jon Swenson


What circulated around the Worldwide Web on Thursday was made official on Andre Ward’s official Twitter account (@andreward) that night regarding the WBA super middleweight champion’s bout versus Carl Froch in the finals of Showtime’s “Super Six” tournament:
 
"Bad News: I sustained a cut in sparring a few hours ago...flew to LA to see the Doc. I got 7 stitches. I will let you know the new date soon" 
 
Y’ know, there have been some notable curses in sports, from the “Curse of the Bambino” (which the Boston Red Sox expunged in 2004), the “Curse of the Billy Goat” (now perhaps the “Curse of Steve Bartman” for long-suffering Chicago Cubs loyalists), the “Electronic Arts Curse” (which seems to hit every NFL who gets the honor of being its gaming cover boy for the season…be very careful, Peyton Hillis) and being a top pick of the Clippers (which has no moniker other than simply being called a “Clipper”). No curse is as alive and well as the one afflicting this super middleweight scrum, which has seen its share of snafus since its inception in 2009.

From the withdrawals of Jermain Taylor, Mikkel Kessler and most suspiciously, Andre Dirrell, this tourney has seen more than its share of bad luck. It almost seems appropriate that this last bout be delayed from its original date of October 29th.
 
Showtime’s Ken Hershman, who came up with the revolutionary modified round-robin, told Maxboxing he had an ominous feeling on Thursday. "I sort of had a suspicion when I got this call from my secretary that it was urgent, could Dan Goossen (Ward’s promoter) talk to me? And once you’re in the promotion part of the fight, you’re talking about marketing and P.R. - there are no emergencies. The only real urgent calls you get are these. I sort of steeled myself for the inevitable, that there was some kind of injury. It’s part of the sport. You go with it and you gotta deal with it and you can’t get yourself into too big of a frenzy of it."
 
For those conspiracy theorists out there, “Fight Camp 360” cameras were present as Ward suffered his injury (For more on this situation, here’s Gabe Montoya’s story on the cut suffered by Ward:maxboxing.com/ward-suffers-a-mystery).
 
Moving forward, Showtime now looks to reschedule this event, which was to take place originally at the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
 
"We’re looking at options. We’re looking at things towards the end of the year and trying to squeeze things in," said Hershman. "There’s not a lot of good options. As you saw from the dust-up connected to December 3rd (http://ringtv.craveonline.com/blog/169288-arum-vows-retaliation-against-golden-boy-showtime-)- which in my mind is a fairly non-event to such a huge conflict with Top Rank- you can see how challenged the dates are because we didn’t set out to counterprogram anyone. It’s not our intent. Now we’re even more against it because we have yet another big, important fight to slot in somewhere."
 
Looking ahead, Showtime has its “Championship Boxing” telecasts scheduled for November 5th (Lucian Bute vs. Glen Johnson and Robert Stieglitz vs. Mikkel Kessler) and December 3rd (Abner Mares vs. Joseph Agbeko II). Meanwhile, HBO/HBO PPV has shows scheduled for every week in November and December 3rd and the 10th. OK, you figure that November 12th has to be ruled out since that’s Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez III, right?  "I’m not telling you anything. We’re not ruling out anything," said Hershman, laughing at the thought.
 
But the process of rescheduling postponed bouts means making sure a lot of separate pieces come together. Hershman explains, "In an injury situation like this, you gotta first assess the nature of the injury, the degree of impairment, when training can resume and then, sort of back into the date that you can first start looking for an opportunity to slot the fight. Then you have another guy on the end of it, right? So you gotta talk to him, then you have to try and find a venue and a date on the network. So it’s all of those moving parts that have to come together and as you sort of near the end of the calendar year, you have to budget issues to take into consideration too. Because if you move this fight into next year, it sounds like a simple thing, you’re moving a big license fee into next year- which may impair the other things that you were doing for next year, so it’s already budgeted for next year. It’s taken into account and it’s the end of the year. There’s not a lot to replace it. We don’t necessarily give that up."
 
Just looking ahead, the only week where this fight will not conflict with an HBO telecast is December 17th, which is a week or so before Christmas, the very same weekend last year when Showtime broadcast the first go-round between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal. Hershman admitted that he hoped for Ward-Froch to be stay in the same location, the Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
 
The latest delay to the “Super Six” will bring about the chorus of skeptics who portend this format, while great in theory, isn’t so good in reality. That critique seems to be a tad unfair because regardless of the hiccups, the “Super Six” has brought us some good fights (Kessler-Froch, for instance), boxers who have been exposed (Arthur Abraham) and ascended to potential stardom (Ward and Froch) and a very good finals match-up. Perhaps you don’t need a tournament bracket to achieve this in the future but in regard to the 168-pound division, it provided a framework for all this to take place since 2009.
 
"As I’ve said, if you take the tournament layer off of the “Super Six,” you just got lots of great fights and great in and out of the ring drama," said the “Czar” of Showtime’s boxing franchise. "And yeah, there’re injuries but injuries happen everywhere, happen in every sport, happen in every walk of life for people. So it’s just something you contend with. But this tournament, as I’ve said, it’s had its moments, had its ups and downs but there was no shortage of drama- and why wouldn’t you want drama? It’s exciting. It’s interesting, challenging. It’s difficult. That’s what it is.
 
"And again, whoever comes out at the end of this [will be a star]- whenever the end is- it’ll just be a few more months."
 
SCHEDULE
 
Here’s a look at the November and December schedules for HBO and Showtime:
 
November 5th: Bute vs. Johnson, Stieglitz vs. Kessler (Showtime)/Alfredo Angulo vs. James Kirkland (HBO)
 
November 12th: Pacquiao vs. Marquez III (HBO PPV)
 
November 19th: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Peter Manfredo (HBO)
 
November 26th: Adrien Broner vs. TBA
 
December 3rd: Miguel Cotto vs. Antonio Margarito II (HBO PPV)/Abner Mares vs. Joseph Agbeko II (Showtime)
 
December 10th: Amir Khan vs. Lamont Peterson (HBO)
 
As referenced in Satterfield’s story, Bob Arum was none too happy about what he believes is blatant counterprogramming by both Showtime (who he was rather cozy with in the first half of 2011) and his archrivals at Golden Boy Promotions. What really bothers Top Rank is not only did they move their card with Nonito Donaire from November 5th to October 22nd ( which will be on HBO) to accommodate Showtime, they say that their past agreements with the network forbade them from counterprogramming and that Showtime themselves didn’t adhere to such stipulations.
 
When asked about Arum’s statements, Hershman stated, "I was surprised. I was very surprised. I didn’t think it was appropriate. It is what it is."
 
That said, WBA lightweight champion Brandon Rios will no longer be on Showtime on December 10th and instead will be moved to the Cotto-Margarito II undercard at the Madison Square Garden in New York the previous week.
 
As for the seemingly thawing “Cold War” between Top Rank and Golden Boy…well, with Golden Boy leaning on AEG to get the Nonito Donaire-Omar Narvaez fight out of the Home Depot Center in Carson and now this, I wouldn’t expect talks between the two regarding Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Saul Alvarez- or other potentially great fights- to go very far.
 
The more things change, the more they stay the same...
 
WOO-HOO
 
One of the reasons why adding Rios to the December 3rd show is integral is that the WBA bantamweight bout between “Runnin’” Rico Ramos and Guillermo Rigondeaux will no longer be a part of that card (http://www.boxingscene.com/arum-on-ramos-rigondeaux-mishap-brandon-rios---44170)
 
A few thoughts:
 
- Did anyone really think that an Al Haymon fighter was going to appear on a Top Rank show?
 
- This is interesting…so Dan Goossen really thought that Ramos was to receive $225,000 for himself? OK, maybe he did but based on that number, for Ramos to receive that kind of money now, a purse bid of right around $500,000 will have to be put in for that to occur. Now, would anyone in his right mind put anywhere near that type of money up for that track meet?
 
- Yeah, I know, Ramos-Rigondeaux is one of those “skillful” and “important” fights some folks yearn for but the 98 percent that watch this sport are the winners here. Now, in place of Ramos-Rigondeaux, we get a fan-friendly fighter who is must-see TV every time he laces them up. The only downside is - and this was mentioned to me on Twitter- fans inside the Garden lost their piss/food/smoke break with the loss of Ramos-Rigondeaux.
 
Still, this here is a win-win situation for everybody involved- except Goossen, who may now have to put up his own money for a fight there may not be much demand for. You can call this addition by subtraction (and then addition by addition).
 
FIRE SALE
 
While Lou DiBella keeps telling everyone that his show on Saturday featuring middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and Darren “Come on down!” Barker is doing well at the box-office, you have to wonder just how well. On Friday, it was announced by DBE that anyone with a proof of purchase of tickets for the cancelled fight on October 29th (which DBE had nothing to do with) will receive a 30-percent discount for this weekend’s card, in addition to a discount for firefighters and policemen.
 
I wouldn’t say they couldn’t give Martinez-Barker tickets away but they sure are going through some unusual measures to get people to buy them. For Barker, maybe at 30 percent off, the price is right (Yeah, horrible pun. I couldn’t resist) but in addition to being a fight that is thought to be obviously lopsided (Barker is a steep, steep underdog), Martinez, for all his talents, is nowhere near a draw. And his representatives still haven’t figured out that fighting twice a year on HBO isn’t the way to build a star or enough of a cache to lure the likes of Miguel Cotto into the ring.
 
It’s interesting but I keep hearing how Martinez is “important” (another Harry Hardcore catch phrase) for HBO and how he needs to be showcased. Well, if he’s so “important,” why doesn’t anyone except a very vocal minority (that to their credit make up the crowds that come to his events in half-filled ballrooms) seem to give a damn about him?
 
Meanwhile, Martinez’s promoter seems to be pontificating on every subject (from mandated blood tests for Victor Ortiz should he rematch Andre Berto to his predictions on a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight). Maybe he should focus more on his clients’ activities and this upcoming promotion.
 
FINAL FLURRIES
 
Jorge Arce, ol’ man (bloody) river just keeps flowing, doesn’t he?...By the way, if DiBella is an agent of change, is random Olympic-style testing for Martinez-Barker available?...Maybe it’s just me but I thought  the bout between Vicente Escobedo was a lot closer than the scorecards had it (for Escobedo). @InSwiderBox tweeted that Escobedo-Juarez wasn’t so much a crossroads match but a cul-de-sac bout...I though the post-fight “24/7” for Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz was excellent. I hope HBO does more of these in the future for their big pay-per-view bouts...Speaking of which, some of the stuff said by Ortiz in the aftermath, well, leaves me scratching my head a bit...Ortiz and Oscar De La Hoya will be having a conference call with reporters this week to talk about the fight. Uh, isn’t this about a week late?...Call Life Alert; the Red Sox have fallen and they can’t get up!...Once again, the September Heisman Trophy goes to Denard Robinson of Meatchicken...Based on strength of schedule, LSU is my top team... Is Clemson this year’s Auburn? Tajh Boyd is for real and Sammy Watkins is a freshman star...Folks, I told you months ago; the Buffalo Bills are a team to contend with in 2011 and I think the Detroit Lions are for real...I can be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing.


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