Pictures of the press conference, media tour and photoshoot for Showtime’s forthcoming Super-Middleweight tournament left me aghast. Six headline fighters, in their respective primes from multiple promotional houses, numerous countries and varied sanctioning bodies coming together for a single organised format, spread out across two years. Its logical, coherent, understandable and exciting – in fact, it just isn’t boxing. Without wishing to become too lavish in my appreciation ahead of the first bell, it is the most welcome development I can remember. And the first pictures are already getting fans talking.
Most notable in the first promotional snaps of the three most prominent fighters int he group, Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham was the size disparity between current Middleweight belt holder Abraham and his two 168 pound contemporaries Kessler and Froch. Though perspective and angles play their part, it clearly indicates Froch and Kessler are naturally the bigger men and they already appeared to carry a focus and intensity Abraham was struggling to summon. Of course, the stare down pictured is entirely for the purpose of promotion but Kessler v Froch will happen at the turn of the year and the bristling confidence of Froch will have demanded he tried to assert a degree of authority over proceedings.
Kessler of course, though a rugged, fearless fighter struggles to keep a straight face in these types of scenario, famously breaking into a laugh with Joe Calzaghe when asked to do the press conference nose to nose. The tournament reflects a degree of necessity in these economically gloomy months and equally demonstrates the loss of notable television coverage back home for Froch, but any focus on those more negative prompts is to overlook the huge determination all parties have shown to set-up such a notable sequence of fights.
Froch, Taylor, Abraham, Kessler, Dirrel and Ward have side-stepped the sanctioning bodies, deferred a fear of travelling, opted for riskier, competitive fights and negotiated their way into the most compelling series boxing has ever compiled. It leaves the likes of Lucian Bute on the periphery, and potential Super-Middleweight Kelly Pavlik too, but it doesn’t feature a single grey hair, a single ‘patsy’ and crucially, if promoted correctly, could establish one or more of the contenders as a cross over star. The format has huge potential.