Is The Super-middleweight Tournament The Best Thing To Happen To Boxing In A Long Time?

By Boxing News - 07/07/2009 - Comments

dirrel4456By Adam Laiolo: Our star is on the wane, whether we like it or not. Our sport is in grave danger of disappearing into obscurity. With UK firm Setanta going into administration, ESPN Wednesday Night Fights being pulled and rumors of HBO having trouble paying out for the biggest fights, boxing needs an injection of adrenaline. Cutting through all the politics between rival promotion companies, more belts than you can shake a stick at and whole divisions in a complete mess, something has got to give.

Too many fights and deals are broken down because of bad blood, lack of interest or just plain egotism. There is no guarantee of a light at the end of a tunnel, with UFC and the likes steamrollering ahead into a new generation of combat sport with ruthlessness and efficiency boxing has to change.

These issues aren’t going to be addressed in one simple tournament, but a step in the right direction is what it almost certainly is. Whilst still in the works, Showtime and the brains behind the operation Sauerland Promotions based in Europe have come up with a master plan. The contest, scheduled over 18 months to 2 years, will start with a randomly drawn group stage then the top two from each group go on to make up the knockout stages comprising of semi finals and a final.

It is unknown yet what, if any, titles are on the line. But I do believe in the coming weeks The Ring magazine belt will be at stake considering this tournament matches their criteria for winning the belt. The smart thing to do would be the put all the belts of the competitors on the line so for arguments sake, we’ll assume the fighters rumored to take part are the fighters confirmed.

That would mean Carl Froch’s WBC strap and Mikkel Kessler’s WBA title are up for grabs and presumably The Ring magazine belt, which would give us an undisputed super-middleweight champion. That’s what we need this tournament to be all about, finding the best super-middleweight.

To have this tournament, find a winner and for him not to be a legitimate champion of at least an alphabet title, would render this whole thing pretty meaningless. It’s to give us clarity, belts don’t always provide this, but for arguments sake, if Arthur Abraham won and he walked away being No. 1 in the division yet Froch and Kessler still had their belts, it would have achieved nothing. For the winner to walk away him knowing and more importantly the world knowing that he is the best and he has a few belts to prove it.

This has to give us the one champion; otherwise it’s just a money spinner. Early signs suggest Showtime and Sauerland Promotions have the interests of the sport at heart in this one, coupled with monumental money fights.

The early absence of Lucian Bute and Nicolay Balzsay with their respective IBF and WBO belts is a disappointment, then we truly would have the lineup we deserve, but as we know nothing is ever perfect. But the line-up is strong, to include Ward and Dirrell is a good move, they may lack to experience of more seasoned fighters like Kessler and Abraham but they’re hungry and desperate to make a mark.

This has a very international feel to it, which sometimes gets lost in translation when American, Mexican, British or Eastern European fighters come together in Las Vegas or Germany or the UK etc in mega fights. We forget this is a global sport and now we could have a global tournament with culture-defined fighters facing off. And the best part is there is no running anymore for fighters.

It provides them to opportunity to fight fighters they wouldn’t normally be able to strike a deal with or get in the ring; it misses out the long drawn out negotiations we are so accustomed to. Everyone signs up, gets paid what they’re paid and you get drawn who you get, no complaints. At the moment it’s more than a pipedream yet less than a certainty, but it’s in the works and we should all be looking forward to it because ultimately, this will benefit the fans.

If Showtime & Co pulls this off, you can bet your bottom dollar, pound or euro that Golden Boy will launch into a mega tournament at welterweight or at some other more star studded weight than super-middleweight. This may not provide the star attraction at the moment, with few, if any, household names in the super-middleweight division but it’s a step in the right direction and could be a stepping stone to something bigger. We are not going to solve the problems in boxing with one tournament, but we can go a long way to fixing a broken division.

This is what boxing needs, a way of the best fighting the best without the politics. Giving the fans, who keep the sport alive, something back? Not being spoon fed useless defenses or match-ups for $50 or £20 a time and getting nothing in return. This isn’t a Prize-fighter or Contender series type competition; this is a world championship tournament to give us an undisputed champion. It might be just the shot in the arm boxing needs.

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