-The Best Idea for the Super Six is to Skip the Third Stage and Start the Semifinals-
There can be little question that Mikkel Kessler has withdrawn from the Super Six Boxing Tournament due to legitimate health concerns. No one would ever accuse “The Viking Warrior” of ducking an opponent, and he was heavily favored to win his upcoming bout with Allan Green and secure a semi-finals slot in the tournament. With his departure, the question on the lips of boxing fans everywhere is “what now?”
Jermain Taylor bowed out after his first fight in the group stage, early enough that his replacement by Allan Green made some sense. Kessler must be replaced for the last fight of the group stage, which is not quite the same thing. Green had two fights in which to prove himself, but Kessler’s replacement inherits a middle-ranking spot in the tournament and has only one fight to make a statement, and that is against the weakest link in the form of Green. It raises the very real issue of whether Kessler should be replaced at all.
Another problem is who can replace Kessler. Green was slated to square off with Sakio Bika to earn his slot, making Bika a natural choice. Given that Bika was just disqualified in his bout against the questionable Jean Paul Mendy, he is not exactly a good choice to replace the highly touted Kessler. In fact, there are only two fighters that could generate the buzz necessary to adequately replace the great Dane: Lucian Bute and Jean Pascal.
Bute, the only 168 lbs. champion to not participate in the tournament, is most unlikely to step into Kessler’s shoes. Bute priced himself out of the tournament in the first place, so why would he want to enter it now for the same amount of money, a mid-ranking slot and just as much risk? Pascal is a hot commodity after dethroning 175 lbs. king Chad Dawson, and is really a super middleweight rather than a light heavyweight. Entering the Super Six would make him more money than anything else he has on offer right now, but he has a legal obstacle in the form of a contracted rematch with Dawson. So who else is there? The ever-flexible Paul Williams?
The Best Choice
The problem facing the tournament is clearly bigger than merely replacing Mikkel Kessler. The real issue is that the entire Super Six Tournament is taking far too long. Attrition has already removed two of the original six from the mix, and Carl Froch was very close to dropping out of the tournament rather than face Arthur Abraham. The tournament is in danger of collapsing under its own weight, and needs to get moving if it is to continue to a decisive conclusion.
The best choice at this point is to advance directly to the Semi-Finals stage with the two fights that are already scheduled and not in danger: Andre Ward vs. Andre Dirrell and Carl Froch vs. Arthur Abraham. These are the four that have been with the tournament from the beginning, and all four deserve a slot in the semi-finals more than any replacement for Kessler.
No new addition to the tournament could honestly claim to have earned a slot in the semi-finals on the basis of one fight, so skip the formalities and get on with it. Appease Lou DiBella with a World Cup- or Olympics-style “loser’s bracket” of some sort that Green can participate in, or guarantee Green a shot at the ultimate winner. Sauerland still has Abraham in the mix, and therefore does not suffer much from losing Kessler. Keep the existing fights for the sake of simplicity, and stage the final bout later this year. Moving forward now, and not replacing Mikkel Kessler, is the fairest and most practical option for saving the Super Six Tournament.