After a lull caused by numerous cancellations, the sport of boxing gets back underway this weekend with a major card headlined by the bantamweight title bout between Joseph Agbeko and Vic Darchinyan. No hate whatsoever to the UFC PPV, but the two bouts scheduled for Showtime this Saturday look to be significantly more competitive than anything on the much ballyhooed UFC 100. Its the tip of the iceberg for Showtime, who are already planning the rest of 2009 and much of 2010 out as well. Just a few weeks away on August 1st, Timothy Bradley and Nate Campbell headline a two fight card. However, most intruiging is what will officially be announced Monday.
A super middleweight tournament on Showtime is not a new idea: They ran an 8 man single elimination tournament earlier in the decade on Shobox. The end result was a draw between two uninspiring talents. In order to try and prevent a repeat, Showtime is instead going round robin style this time, and the names and stakes are higher. Participants are Arthur Abraham, Mikael Kessler, Andre Ward, Jermain Taylor, Carl Froch, and Andre Dirrell. The long and short of the end result of this tournament is that the winner will be, almost without question, the best super middleweight fighter in the world. It will kick off from two locations in October, with Abraham tasked to fight Jermain Taylor, and Froch given the job of facing Andre Dirrell. After the round robin series is done, semis and finals will follow to determine a winner.
The mere fact that the tournament is happening shows a multitude of things have happened in the last few months. The collapsing economy has killed TV deals in multiple nations, forcing fighters to look harder for pay days. Additionally, major networks are looking less at the alphabet soup belts as being valued for drawing potential. Combine those two things with a general feel in the boxing industry that the often PPV heavy system of the last 5-6 years was not working and the apparently wish for Bob Arum to keep Kelly Pavlik from any mildly capable fighters, and the tournament became the only clear option for its participants.
Other news and notes:
-Andre Berto/Shane Mosley is rumored to be on for 11/14. Interesting, as that's the same date as Pacquiao/Cotto. Now, its possible they'd stack the card, but pretty hard to believe.
-Mayweather/Marquez sold somewhere between $5 and 6 million dollars of tickets prior to cancellation, so says promoters.
-Top Rank's deal with Azteca America has ended up like their's with Versus. After promising bigger fights, those fights are now on PPV under the Latin Fury branding. Meanwhile, crap ends up getting shoveled to free TV.
-Teddy Atlas is returning to training. He'll be taking over Alexander Povetkin's training for a fight later this year with Wladimir Klitschko.
-Speaking of Klitschkos: Vitali will face David Haye on 9/12, supposedly.