By Jake Donovan

When its idea was first introduced, many were optimistic about the Super Six World Boxing Classic, but realistically expected the tournament to suffer a hiccup or two along the way.

Hope for the best, expect for the worst. It’s the safest way to make it through life, so long as you have a firm grasp on just how bad the worst may be.

These days, the best we’re left to hope for is the latest revised scheduled for Stage Two to not suffer any more setbacks. The worst… well, let’s face it, how much worse can things get?

While it’s not quite at Contender status (which would truly be the worst any series can get), it’s become clear at this point that the Super Six is no longer the priority the sport once hailed it when officially announced last summer.

There was a great amount of buzz surrounding the first wave of matches, with Showtime airing a split-site doubleheader. The first bout aired via tape-delay, but most in the media did their best to refrain from posting spoilers in their greatest efforts to help maximize viewership.

No sooner than Carl Froch’s hand was raised in a close, disputed victory in his backyard over Andre Dirrell, were boxing fans immediately abuzz in the aftermath. For good reason, too; no other boxing event was scheduled for the evening, nor was anything significant scheduled for another two weeks.

As such, the tournament boxing’s answer to Octoberfest, dominating the headlines throughout the month. And while boxing enjoyed several big events in November, Andre Ward’s surprising domination of Mikkel Kessler was enough to keep the series in the news for the rest of the year, both from the post-fight buzz and Ward making his way to the honorable mention section for Fighter of the Year among many publications (including this one).

Then came 2010, which hasn’t been kind at all to the Super Six.

First came the early exit of Jermain Taylor, who decided after the Stage One knockout loss to Arthur Abraham that he would take a much needed break from the sport while mulling over his future.

The news of Taylor stepping aside was hardly worrisome. For starters, a contingency plan was already in place – Allan Green was the de facto alternate all along, but was still prepared to fight for the right to officially step in for a Stage Two showdown with Andre Ward.

In order to make it from here to there, Green was asked to face former title challenger Sakio Bika, in a bout that would’ve aired earlier this month.

Green was willing, but Bika never put pen to paper. The official excuse was a hang-up with visa issues, but his handlers never seemed interested in the idea of such a fight anyway.

In with a whimper, though Green promises plenty of bang will follow. All he needed, now, was a time and place to prove himself.

The time and place part hasn’t been so easy to nail down for any of the Stage Two bouts.

Ward and Green were supposed to fight on April 17, serving as the live portion of Showtime’s scheduled bi-continental doubleheader, with same-day tape-delayed coverage of Carl Froch’s title defense against Mikkel Kessler serving as the opening bout.

That was before Showtime was forced to deal with another set of issues – namely, HBO’s increasing jealousy over the rave reviews that have surrounded the tournament.

When the year began, HBO only had two scheduled dates through the end of February. One of the events (Shane Mosley-Andre Berto) wound up getting canceled, leaving the self-proclaimed Network of Champions with only a single Boxing After Dark show on its schedule between New Year’s and the end of the Winter Olympics.

Their next broadcast comes on March 6, a date that wasn’t filled by the network until after it was announced that Arthur Abraham would face Andre Dirrell to officially kick off Stage Two of the tournament.

A conflict no longer exists now that the Abraham-Dirrell bout has been pushed back three weeks, due to Dirrell suffering a back injury during training camp. Only now, it conflicts with HBO’s other scheduled Boxing After Dark show for the month, slated for March 27.

The change in dates comes on the heels of Showtime also electing to move back one week its aforementioned originally scheduled doubleheader. A variety of reasons were offered to explain the move, though the unofficial yet popular belief is that the network blinked once HBO finalized its own split-site doubleheader for the same evening. 

HBO’s plan all along was to counter the Super Six with a bout featuring Lucian Bute, arguably the best super middleweight to not be involved in Showtime’s tournament. The best opponent they could drum up was Colombian retread Edison Miranda. Hardly a concern for Showtime, who had by far the better show of the evening.

That was before a deal was finalized to have Kelly Pavlik defend his lineal middleweight championship against Sergio Martinez.

More so than the two shows going head-to-head surfaced a different kind of conflict: one where two Super Six promoters (Lou DiBella and Dan Goossen) had a fighter appearing on each telecast.

Showtime announced soon thereafter that their doubleheader would be pushed back one week to April 24 – yet another date where the network finds itself going head to head with HBO, and another date where a promoter has horses in both races.

HBO put the finishing touches on a heavyweight clash between Chris Arreola and Tomasz Adamek. Arreola is promoted by Dan Goossen, who originally scheduled both this bout and Ward’s title defense against Allan Green with the hopes of attending both shows, while fully prepared to have to miss out on Miranda’s crack at Bute’s alphabet title.

Skipping out on Bute-Miranda wouldn’t have been difficult, since that card would fall under a different promotional banner. A true conflict of interest resides in the fact that not only is he a major stakeholder for both shows on April 24, but that both fights will presumably take place in California (though no official site has yet been named for Ward-Green).

Now also forced to choose between his own fighters is Gary Shaw, though certainly not by his own doing. The Abraham-Dirrell bout being pushed back to March 27 puts the New Jersey-based promoter in a bind, since a deal was finalized earlier last week for Ali Funeka, who signed with Shaw last year, to face Joan Guzman on HBO in a rematch to their controversial first fight last November.

Funeka’s third straight attempt at a lightweight title comes on a show promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, whereas Shaw serves as the lead promoter for Abraham-Dirrell, wherever the show may land.

The decision isn’t a particularly tough one to make, but it shouldn’t have to be a choice at all.

The Super Six World Boxing Classic was supposed to change the way things are done in a sport that can never seem to take a step forward without taking another step back. Its announcement and outline had the boxing world abuzz, with the series serving as a centerpiece in the display of everything good that the sport had to offer.

There’s still plenty of time for the Super Six to regain its swagger – but not before those involved return to treating the series like the priority it deserves to be. 

Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of and an award-winning member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact Jake at