The group stage concept is still alive for the Super Six World Boxing Classic, against most logic, and the meaningful fights with the four remaining originals of the tournament will be moving to November 27.
Last month, the tournament lost Mikkel Kessler to an eye injury, making him the second fighter to pull out. Jermain Taylor dropped out in January, and was replaced by Allan Green, who was virtually shut out by Andre Ward in his first tournament bout. Kessler and Green were to face one another on September 25 in Denmark, but when that was scrapped, everything else started falling like dominoes.
Ward and Andre Dirrell couldn't come to a venue agreement for their set September 25 date, either, so that was postponed. Then, Carl Froch pulled out of an October 2 date with Arthur Abraham, citing a back injury. That fight had been through plenty of wrangling and bickering already, as Froch refused to fight in Germany and Abraham wasn't about to fight in England, so they had to set a fight in Monaco.
Now, they'll be fighting in Helsinki, Finland, still a neutral ground that all but guarantees they don't make as much money live as they should have. Ward and Dirrell still have no venue for their fight, but legal action has been threatened to their promoters already, so I'm assuming Gary Shaw and Dan Goossen have started working something out. Ward's first two fights have been in Oakland, where he's building an audience. Dirrell fought at home in Detroit last time out against Abraham, which drew predictably miserable attendance in a tremendously poor city where boxing hasn't been a major ticket in years. Dirrell also has never built a fanbase in Michigan, having fought there very little as a professional.
One of the smaller Vegas casinos might have been a good idea, but HBO, Golden Boy and DiBella are in Vegas that night for the Marquez-Katsidis triple-header. There are some very neutral sites that could be considered. I still think New Jersey, with a dedicated fight audience in Atlantic City, could turn out well, and there's also Chicago, Texas, Memphis, and New Orleans is starting to enter a lot of fight discussions lately.
As for going head-to-head with HBO, it basically couldn't be avoided. The November/December schedule is absolutely packed:
- November 6, HBO: Judah v. Matthysse, Guerrero v. Escobedo
- November 6, SHO: Lopez v. Marquez
- November 13, HBO PPV: Pacquiao v. Margarito
- November 20, HBO: Martinez v. Williams II
- November 27, HBO: Marquez v. Katsidis, Berto v. TBA, Caballero v. Litzau
- December 4, Top Rank PPV: Chavez v. Gomez
- December 11, HBO: Khan v. Maidana
- December 11, SHO: Perez v. Agbeko II, Darchinyan v. Mares
- December 18, SHO PPV: Pascal v. Hopkins
Look, preferably, December 4 would have been their date. It's the only one even kind of "open," because the Chavez-Gomez show is not going to attract a buying audience of real significance. It's a niche show. That would have been the ideal date of what is available, but you have to consider that the venues would have had to work out and all the fighters and promoters would have had to agree, and, well, that can be a headache itself.
The earlier rumored idea seemed to be to get Green a date on Showtime outside of the tournament, but now apparently he's still "in the tournament" against a yet-to-be-named replacement. The four guys most likely to move forward are Ward, Dirrell, Froch and Abraham, anyway, but Green does have a shot. If Ward beats Dirrell and Green scores a knockout win against someone, Green will move on and Dirrell will shove off. It makes sense from Green's perspective to stay in and go for a knockout against a replacement opponent, because there's big money waiting in the semifinals and finals.