Now that the Super Six World Boxing Classic is in the past, let's take a look at the eight competitors, what we've learned about them in the last two years, and where they go from here.
What We Learned: We learned that Ward (25-0, 13 KO) is the best super middleweight in the world, a two-body titleholder and the legit champion of the world, as he pretty much plowed through his four tournament fights against Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch. His greatest test over the time came in a non-tournament bout he didn't have to take -- but did -- against high-risk, low-reward Sakio Bika in November 2010. Though Ward may never become the superstar that the tournament would like to have produced, he's a name fighter and regarded as one of the best boxers in the world.
Where He Goes Now: Wherever he wants, basically. If Ward wants to fight Lucian Bute, the best super middleweight who was not part of the tournament, he can, but that doesn't appear to be in his plans. Ward intends to take a break, so we'll have to see where he goes next. It's possible he could rematch Mikkel Kessler in the summer if Kessler defeats Robert Stieglitz for the WBO belt on April 14.
What We Learned: Froch (28-2, 20 KO) has been doubted pretty much every step of the way in his career. Even when he was dominating on the domestic level in the UK, he was knocked as being too slow to ever become an elite fighter, and his boasts were largely laughed off, as were his dramatic challenges to Joe Calzaghe, then king of the super middleweights. But while Froch is indeed slow, he makes up for it with pure balls and grit, and advanced all the way to the finals after a shaky start in the first stage against Andre Dirrell, in which he received a hometown win many felt he hadn't truly earned.
Where He Goes Now: It looks like Froch will be the man to face Lucian Bute instead of Ward, and if that doesn't actually happen, he'll probably do something else significant. Of the lot, I think he may be closest to moving up in weight if he doesn't fight Bute, or rematch Kessler. He could mix in well at 175 and give one of the top names there someone relevant and legitimate to fight.
What We Learned: Abraham (32-3, 26 KO) is too short for the super middleweight division and isn't very good when matched against truly live bodies. He hates body shots to the point he believes anything below his sternum is a low blow. He's incredibly passive against real foes; he became a punching bag against Froch and Ward in his last two fights.
Where He Goes Now: Abraham is fighting on January 14 against 24-year-old Pablo Farias (19-1, 11 KO) of Argentina, the sort of guy he fluffed up his record against for years. He says he's going back to middleweight and that he plans to win a world title, and he's certainly got a power promoter to help him do that, and then to help him defend easy at home for as long as he wants.
What We Learned: Kessler (44-2, 33 KO) fought just twice in the tournament before bowing out for an eye surgery, and has since come back with a win over Mehdi Bouadla and now has his sights on Robert Stieglitz's WBO belt, a fight that was supposed to happen in late 2011 but now is set for April 14 in Denmark. His two bouts came against Ward and Froch, and he went 1-1, losing badly to Ward in a stage one shocker that put everyone on notice and let them know Ward was a force, and then nipping past Froch in what was by the best fight of the tournament, and frankly the only fight in the tournament that was better than decent.
Where He Goes Now: As said, he's facing Stieglitz next, after which he could set up a rematch with either Froch, who will look to gain a belt again, or Ward, who could try to unify all four titles for whatever reason, if the sanctioning bodies let him. Or Mikkel could pick up a belt and stay in Denmark for the rest of his career, fighting low-risk WBO-approved "contenders" and cashing checks.
What We Learned: Dirrell (20-1, 14 KO) dropped out of the tournament after two fights, too, but he didn't have anything documented wrong with him like Kessler, who had eye surgery, or Taylor, who stayed in a hospital after his loss to Arthur Abraham with a serious concussion and a brain bleed. Dirrell had "head problems" after getting clocked by Abraham in March 2010, and then bailed before fighting Andre Ward -- that is to say, bailed instead of fighting Andre Ward, as "before fighting" Ward would imply that the fight was ever going to happen, and it was common knowledge that it was not. But from a boxing perspective, look, Dirrell is very talented. His fight against Froch was butt ugly, but I scored it wide for Dirrell, with the asterisk of having had to score it for one of them in every miserable round. And he was doing very well against Abraham before the whole late hit DQ mess, and getting hit late in itself was not Andre Dirrell's fault, but Abraham's, and Abraham deserves the blame for that.
Where He Goes Now: Dirrell recently returned with an easy mismatch win over 37-year-old club fighter Darryl Cunningham on a not-so-special ShoBox, and says he's gunning for the big dogs at 168. We'll see. When Andre Dirrell is dialed in and ready to fight, he can do some special things. He will never be at a pure talent disadvantage in the ring.
What We Learned: Taylor (29-4-1, 18 KO) had lost three of four entering the tournament and looking back, really probably shouldn't have been entered in as one of the elite super middleweights, but they needed three Americans and the former middleweight champ was about as good as it got. He lasted just one fight in the tournament, brutally knocked out by Abraham in Germany in the first bout of the whole shebang, and withdrew.
Where He Goes Now: Like Dirrell, Taylor just came back on that dreadful ShoBox, beating overmatched but game Jessie Nicklow. It told us little about where the 33-year-old fighter is, but he's back at 160, back with original trainer Pat Burns, back with DiBella, and back in the game. Nobody seems in any rush to send him in against a top fighter, so he'll have his chances to get himself in true shape to make a run if he can do so.
What We Learned: Johnson (51-16-2, 35 KO) was the replacement for Mikkel Kessler in the tournament, and knocked out Allan Green -- well, kind of, he knocked Green down and then Green hung out on the mat complaining instead of getting up. Johnson then lost a competitive fight with Froch in the semifinals. I guess the only thing we really learned about Johnson in the Super Six is that he could make 168 pounds again.
Where He Goes Now: He lost badly to Lucian Bute in one of the worst fights of 2011 on November 5, not even trying to win, losing every round, and then whining again that he'd been robbed by the judges. At this point, Johnson is an above average fighter who doesn't beat the top guys he fights, but does beat the guys he faces between them. If he retired tomorrow, it will have been a good career, but who knows where Glen goes? He could go back to 175, stay at 168, go to cruiserweight maybe -- you never know with Johnson.
What We Learned: Allan Green (31-3, 21 KO) is not a top fighter. He replaced Taylor in the tournament for one reason: He's promoted by DiBella and was easy to slot into the whole thing. Green was pretty well-known as "the alternate" should anyone pull out, and anyone did. But his fights against Andre Ward, in which he was bullied and made to look positively feeble, and Glen Johnson, in which he was conked on the head and stopped in eight, proved that he's at least a level below the top guys.
Where He Goes Now: Oklahoma. Canada. Sideways.