Thursday, July 16, 2009

:boxing: Boxing Bits ::07.16.09:: Of The Departed and The Young...

Before posting HardDoor's third anniversary post, I would be remiss in acknowledging two tragic passings that by now many have already known. The first of those being Alexis Arguello, one of boxing's greatest fighters and champions, who committed suicide on July 1. Despite his accomplishments, and classics bouts against Aaron Pryor and Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini, Arguello had a history of drug problems and suicidal tendencies. He recently won the mayoral seat in his hometown of Managua, Nicaragua. His apparent suicide might have been foul play according to some, who have linking it to rival political forces.

The second untimely death occur over the weekend, when Arturo Gatti was found dead in his hotel room in Brazil. His wife, whom he recently married and was on a honeymoon with, was charged with murder, and their young son is in the custody of her family, who reside in the country. There were reportedly a number of issues between the two which may have played a hand in Gatti's death, which was believed to have been caused when he was strangled with a bloody purse strap in his sleep, following an earlier drunken altercation (fuller details here). Gatti was best known for his numerous "blood & guts" fights, the most famous of which being his trilogy against "Irish" Micky Ward.

In a two week-plus span which saw the deaths of so many of the famed: Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, Michael Jackson, Billy Mays, Steve McNair; it is an absolute shame to have to see the names of two great boxers also join that list so unexpectedly, and under such circumstances. Condolences to both Alexis Arguello's and Arturo Gatti's respective families.


To switch gears towards something a little more uplifting, Showtime announced that are organizing a round-robin tournament in the super middleweight division. The "Super Six World Boxing Classic"--consisting of WBC Super Middleweight Champion Carl Froch, WBA Champion Mikkel Kessler, IBF Middleweight Champion Arthur Abraham (moving up), former champion Jermain Taylor, and prospects Andre Ward and Andre Dirrel--will start this year and will the participants fight each other over the next two years. In the first round, each must take on three different fighters within 12 months. The second round will consist of the four highest point-getters (#1 vs. #4, #2 vs. #3), with the two finalists meeting in the finals in 2011. Each fight will be 12 rounds, with 2 pts awarded per win (+1 per (T)KO), 1 pt. per draw, and 0 pts. per loss (tie-breaking elements will be used when necessary).

This is arguably the biggest boxing tournament since the middleweight division's single-elimination unification contest at the turn of the decade, featuring the likes of Bernard Hopkins (final's winner), Felix Trinidad (runner-up), Keith Holmes (lost to Hopkins in 1st Rd), and William Joppy (lost to Trinidad in 1st Rd). As good as that turned out to be, the "Super Six" tourney perhaps tops it on sheer name volume and talent alone. There is a great mix of established champions, gifted fighters, hungry youngsters, tough men, and unproven, untested pugilists. There is also a certain, auspicious air of unpredictablity (which, let's face it, wasn't quite there in the middleweight one) and nearly everyone has a solid chance to win the whole thing. The system also is set up so that by the finals, the two remaining combatants will have possibly fought everyone else, except for each other yet. And, ideally, the winner could very well be named the undisputed best, having claimed victory over every opponent in the tournament.

It will be quite the event, one that deserves more attention in the sports media than others (like...Floyd Mayweather, Jr.?). Personally, I have Abraham as the favorite, with either Froch or Kessler (on technical fighting only) in close second. I'd say Taylor, but his chin says second round only, whereas Ward and, more notably, Direll get exposed in the first and never make it out. The fact that all of these boxers are in a tournament should have all of them fighting just a little harder and better than in under normal conditions. Dates and locations are yet-to-be-determined, but the first batch of the three-part first round was put together very well, showcasing many of the positives divulged before (not to mention it's a great way to kick things off with a bang):

[Using the same format as in Boxing Bits, with short thoughts about the match-ups.]

NOTE [07.27.09]: Dates and locations now added.

:Sat.10.17.09: [C] WBC Champion Froch vs. Direll (--The Engimatic Threats) [England]
:Sat.11.21.09: [C] WBA Champion Kessler vs. Ward (--The Promising, but Uncertain, Contenders) [United States]
:Sat.10.17.09: Taylor vs. Abraham (--The Big Main Eventers) [Germany]

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