[FanPosted promoted by Brick. While this does present a good recap, there are some opinions involved, but it seems like this should be a great start to some discussions about what could happen from here on out in the tournament.]
Last night's fight between Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward concluded the first stage of the Super Six World Boxing Classic. Here is a quick rundown:
- Arthur Abraham: 3
- Carl Froch: 2
- Andre Ward: 2
- Mikkel Kessler: 0
- Andre Dirrell: 0
- Jermain Taylor: 0
In addition, we have a title change as Andre Ward won the WBA Super Middleweight title from Mikkel Kessler.
So far, so good. There have been great performances by Ward and Abaraham, and a healthy bit of boxing controversy surrounding the Froch-Dirrell fight and Jermain Taylor. But all three fights have been entertaining, hard fought, and close (even Taylor wasn't doing that bad). But what have we learned? And remember, lets keep this in the context of the tournament rules and standings. Abraham getting those 3 points were key against the weakest fighter in the draw. Kessler's loss also helps him immensely.
1. Arthur Abraham is now the favorite, Andre Dirrell has a very narrow path through. Part of it is the draw - Abraham won't have to fight Kessler or Ward, and instead got Taylor and then gets Dirrell next. Now Dirrell has the kind of athleticism that could give a plodding fighter like Abraham who doesn't transition from offense to defense very well. Dirrell showed how good he can be against Froch. But Dirrell had a hard time dealing with Carl Froch when he got nasty, when he turned the fight into a slugfest. Whether you think Dirrell won or lost, its clear that he wants to keep the fight outside and moving because once Froch made it about clutching and inside fighitng Dirrell had a hard time. Abraham is a destroyer, much moreso than Froch, and Dirrell will have a lot to deal with. I have a bad feeling that Dirrell might be the guy left out of the final four because he, by far, has the hardest draw of the six (Froch, Abraham, Ward). Kessler's lost hurts because he doesn't fight Kessler and won't get a chance to take control of his future and he doesn't fight Taylor to try and get the 2 or 3 points.
2. Andre Ward is the truth, but don't overlook Taylor. Jermain Taylor hung in there with Arthur Abraham, and was arguably winning the fight halfway through. Against Carl Froch last year, he would have won the fight if he hadn't gotten knocked out. This is not to say I am making excuses for Taylor - he gassed against Froch and couldn't handle Abraham's power. But for all the talk about Taylor quitting the tournament, Andre Ward's win is a gift for this veteran warrior from Arkansas. I can't imagine it has ever happened in boxing that a man coming off of two knockout losses did he get to fight for a part of a world championship. But that is the case here. Ward looked fantastic against Kessler, and will be the favorite against Taylor. But Ward doesn't have the power that Froch and Abraham have, and while he's fast Taylor won't have to worry about the raw power like he did before. Ward got away with a lot of reckless tendencies against a Kessler who clearly wasn't ready for Ward or his southpaw stance. Taylor is a crafty veteran who's fought the best, and just as people talked about his career being over, a title shot drops into his lap. Ward now has to deal with the pressure of defending his title under the bright lights of this tournament. But clearly of all the fighters, Ward has now leaped ahead to co-favorite with Abraham. He should get past Taylor, but he better not overlook him.
3. Carl Froch, everything to lose. Mikkel Kessler, everything to gain. Of all the fights going into this tournament, this is the one I've most been looking forward too, even though its not a a title unifier anymore. Both have a lot to prove. Froch won a dirty war against Dirrell, but still has to answer some questions. He's tough, but he was arguably losing to both Taylor and Dirrell and his hold on the title is not tight right now. Kessler is a better fighter than the fighter that fought Ward. But he needs to figure out how to keep the fight on the outside or how to fight on the inside because if he has problems with Ward's inside punches and clutching, Froch is a dog at that. Froch also has more power than Ward. But Kessler has time still . . . he gets Taylor in the last fight of stage one so he ends easier than the other fighters, and this fight will be in Copenhagen. For a title. It will be a chance at immediate redemption for the Viking Warrior. Froch relishes the bad guy role, but if he had problems with Dirrell, an on-his-game Kessler will be a lot to ask for. Froch needs to make this fight dirty, like he did against Dirrell, because I think Kessler is just a better fighter right now than Froch. If Froch loses, its bad for the tournament too because he gets Abraham in round 3.
Predictions come after the jump.
Here are my predictions right now:
- Andre Ward (4 points) d. Jermain Taylor by UD (0 points)
- Arthur Abraham (6 points) d. Andre Dirrell by TKO (0 points)
- Mikkel Kessler (2 points) d. Carl Froch by Split-Decision (2 points)
- Arthur Abraham (8 points) d. Carl Froch by split-decision (2 points)
- Mikkel Kessler (5 points) d. Jermain Taylor by KO (0 points)
- Andre Ward d (6) d. Andre Dirrell by split decision (0 points)
- Arthur Abraham vs. Carl Froch
- Mikkel Kessler vs. Andre Ward
Arthur Abraham vs. Andre Ward
WINNER: A star is born . . . .ANDRE WARD!
So now that I've made my picks, I'll have to revise them in three months because just watch Dirrell shock Abraham and Taylor shock Ward. Who knows . . .