The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Super Middleweight Tournament Preview, Part 1

Part 1 today, part 2 tomorrow.

So there’s a Super Middleweight tourney happening: 6 contenders, round-robin at first, to determine the A#1nofoolingforrealdeal World Champion at the weight. You’ve got fighters from 4 countries and several different promoters, with varied recent fortunes, styles, experience and skill levels. I’m trying not to get too excited about this since the odds are extremely high that at some point this whole thing will explode and come to nothing, but since they’re at the signed-contracts-and-promotional-group-photos stage it’s probably time to buy it a little. A quick preview, fighter by fighter:

Announced fights/planned fights:

Froch vs. Dirrell
Taylor vs. Abraham
Kessler vs. Ward
Abraham vs. Dirrell
Froch vs. Kessler
Ward vs. Taylor
Ward vs. Dirrell
Froch vs. Abraham
Kessler vs. Taylor

Carl Froch:

Frok or Frotsh depending on who you ask is one of the two fighters alongside Taylor who I give a near-zero shot in this thing. He’s incredibly tough, he gives it his all, he has the confidence of an undefeated fighter; but his technique isn’t even for shit and he’s dial-up slow, an analog fighter in a digital division. Taylor outboxed him handily before disintegrating- what will Kessler, Abraham and Dirrell do to him? All three of those guys are faster and more technically advanced than Taylor and have the great jab that Froch couldn’t get around, none of them have Taylor’s habit of fading or average chin, all three can pick apart the Englishman and then cover up or move against his wind-up lumberpunch offense. Right now I think he loses three decisions, although it’s entirely possible that Abraham drills him with a perfectly timed counter for the KO. Froch is the kind of fighter who could easily be a champion at, say, Middleweight or Jr. Middle; at 168, he’s still a very good fighter, there’s just a few better ones who unfortunately are all in his way.

If he beats someone, it’s probably Kessler; the Dane is a very good offensive fighter, but he’s only occasionally fought opponents who really made him fight 12 hard ones and tried to hit him back with any success, and his record is mixed against that kind of pressure. One thing you can say about Froch is that he will make people actually beat him. I can see an unlikely scenario in which Kessler gets drawn into more of a slugfest than he really wants, gives up on his jab and ends up being outworked by a durable brawler when he fades late. If I really, really stretch my mind I can a scenario where Froch perhaps beats Abraham, just because his weird looping shots are actually a decent tool against the high guard defense and maybe Abraham will be hit with a shot he doesn’t expect from a bigger puncher than he’s used to… but honestly, at this point I’m just looking for nice things to say. Froch is kinda screwed.

Jermain Taylor:

I hate saying this because he seems like such a nice guy and has had a better career than is sometimes remembered, but Taylor comes into this to make up the numbers and add some name value, and maybe to cash out of boxing on his way to whatever’s next in his life. He’s lost 3 of his last 4, 2 by knockout, one of them to another participant in this tournament- and that’s the guy who’s given less of a shot than anyone else but Taylor in the thing by many people, including me. Taylor has to fight Abraham in his first fight who’s a horrid style matchup for him, Kessler who’s somewhat similar and equally bad, and Ward who’s quicker, younger, and better conditioned. Out of those three, I don’t see who Taylor beats- maybe if Kessler’s lack of activity rusts him up, maybe….but Taylor isn’t Kessler’s first fight, so… I dunno. I’m grasping at straws. I expect Taylor to get out-jabbed, out-lasted and caught with counters by both Abraham and Kessler and probably KO’d by the former, and Ward I expect to simply beat him to the punch all night and outwork him. Even more than Froch who might outlast and outwork someone, it’s hard to find a win for Taylor; his best asset right now is probably his jab and power, and Abraham and Kessler probably excel him in both of those categories or else neutralize them. Maybe he catches Ward- whose chin is not the best- with something unanticipated. Wouldn’t bet on it though. A Taylor who was really focused on his conditioning and had a great trainer and the ability to follow a smart gameplan could probably find a way to win with the tools he has, but the actual Jermain Taylor is in very tough in this one.

Taylor stands to make a good amount of money through this tourney; I hope he invests it wisely.

Andre Ward:

There are people out there- serious people who know the sport- picking Ward to win. I have to say, I can see it; he’s got the amateur pedigree, the speed, the power, the confidence, and a decent amount of pro experience against serious(ish) opposition like Edison Miranda and Rubin Williams. He’s probably in his athletic prime at 25, and he’s so goddamn quick that he might just blitz Kessler and Taylor and beat them to the punch over and over, wearing them out. At the very least he probably beats Tayor easy, unless he just walks into something flukey- Kessler might be trouble if he can’t get past the jab, but I don’t expect that to be the case (it doesn’t hurt that Ward faces Kessler in California). Dirrell…I’ll address that fight and him tomorrow. Ward can win this, but there’s three things that have to be overcome for him to do so: the reputation of his chin, an occasional tendency to get drawn into fights which don’t best utilize his abilities- stand-and-trade affairs where he can be caught and loses some of the advantage his size and quickness offer (oddly, he may have been fortunate to avoid Froch), and the fact that while he’s not a neophyte, he has the second-least serious experience of anyone in this and will have to learn on the go how to adapt what he does to a far superior class of opposition that he’s seen before at the pro level.

To be continued tomorrow, with the other 3 participants.

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July 28, 2009 - Posted by | Boxing | , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I agree that Taylor probably has no chance, but what a crazy career. He’s had two fights, that if they just slightly swung a different way, he’d probably be a Hall of Famer.

    If it were any other ref than Smoger (who is my favorite ref in boxing), Taylor probably has a TKO victory over Pavlik, with no one clamoring for a second fight.

    And if he just ran around in the 12th against Froch, he’d be considered a pimp. Instead, he looks like he’s on his last legs. Crazy how this fight game works.

    Comment by Tony M | July 28, 2009 | Reply

  2. It’s really true- such a small margin separating one career path from another. I hate to say it, but the guy’s professional tombstone is likely going to read in part: “with a bit more luck and a bit more roadwork…”, which is simultaneously true and unfair.

    Comment by theshipbesinking | July 28, 2009 | Reply


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