Honestly? This is the most exciting story in boxing this year. It really is.
More details are coming out about Showtime's jaw-dropping super middleweight tournament, and it all amps me up because it makes it seem more realistic. The American cable network isn't going to be alone in trying to finance or produce this monstrosity, which is estimated at a total cost of $50,000,000. Also on board are SKY Sports (UK), ARD (Germany) and Viasat (Denmark), among others.
The first fight of the tournament is tentatively scheduled to take place on October 10 in Germany, with Arthur Abraham meeting Jermain Taylor, who was specifically noted as a questionable pick by the camp of unbeaten 168-pound titlist Lucian Bute, universally considered one of the world's two best at 168 pounds. Bute is not part of the tournament, perhaps because a Canadian network couldn't pony up the money to get him involved as "their" representative. But that is utter speculation on my part.
Bute's team has their points, obviously. Lucian really should be there. There are other guys you can talk about who also aren't included -- Sakio Bika springs to mind immediately -- and then you can start questioning Taylor, who has lost three of four fights, and the Andres (Ward and Dirrell), who just don't have deep resumes. Rick Reeno of BoxingScene.com (which has been the home for news on this tournament) was told by two reliable sources that Bute was offered a chance to be in the tournament and declined. Bute's team says they were never given an offer, and that they plan to go ahead with a rematch against Librado Andrade. They also sound pissed that Jean Pascal, who just won a 175-pound title, wasn't invited, either.
The money is being mapped out. If the idea is good to go, there will be a press conference on July 13 at Madison Square Garden, with further press stops in London, Copenhagen and Berlin. The fact that their target press conference date is so close makes me quite hopeful.
Boy, if this gets done, this is a huge step for boxing promotion. A round robin tournament, scored by result (KO win is +3, decision win is +2, loss is 0, I'm assuming a draw would be +1 for each man), with legitimate, top fighters involved. There are a million things that could go wrong (and I won't be surprised if all of them happen), but right now I can't help but just get caught up in it.