(Carl Froch, left; Mikkel Kessler, right. Credit: Tom Casino, Showtime)
Glancing around at what everyone’s written about last weekend’s fights, there are a couple trends. Some people, such as Cliff Rold of BoxingScene, have pointed out that the Super Six tournament finally delivered a great fight. True, and certainly welcome. Others, such as ESPN’s Dan Rafael, have pointed out that the cool thing about the tournament is that anything can happen at any time, and we learn so much about the fighters through this round-robin format. This, to me, is the real joy of the tournament. Not every fight is going to be like Mikkel Kessler-Carl Froch, but every one of them so far has had drama. And would anyone have predicted that the primary way Kessler would defeat Froch is out-hearting him, given that Froch is the man with the rep of having the most heart and Kessler showed a lack of it against Andre Ward?
The other major trend: “Bigger isn’t always better.” Tomasz Adamek was 30 pounds lighter than Chris Arreola Saturday, but with a good game plan, conditioning and technical skills, Adamek beat a serious heavyweight in Arreola — one week after the smaller Sergio Martinez took the middleweight championship from Kelly Pavlik. David P. Greisman worked that angle here for BoxingScene, and it’s also true. It requires little further elaboration.
Other thoughts from the weekend that was:
- Why Froch lost. Froch and his trainer have ideas about why the super middleweight lost his first fight, and I have an additional one or two. They think he didn’t press when he had Kessler hurt in the 5th, and it’s certainly the case that Froch had Kessler hurt a couple times but wasn’t able to capitalize. But Kessler was never really badly hurt, and he recovered quickly each time. Froch’s team pointed out as well that he almost pulled out of the fight with a perforated ear drum, which, OK, sounds a little excuse-y even if true. I think there’s a strong chance mentally he was out of things a bit, what with the recent announcement that his girlfriend was pregnant and the difficulty traveling to Denmark, the latter of which was related to Froch admitting he thought the fight might be canceled because of the Iceland volcano. But there’s something in particular I wanted to add: Nobody has ever really made Froch back up. He seemed uncomfortable with it. The more Kessler pressed, the less Froch got his own punches off. If someone else is going to beat Froch, I think Kessler gave a little hint of one way to do it.
- Fun is fun vs. the scrap heap. Hate Froch or not, it’s hard to deny that he’s one of the premier action fighters going these days, having been in at least three terrific bouts against Jean Pascal, Jermain Taylor and now Kessler. I don’t blame anyone for disliking Froch’s personality. But really, it’s still a mystery why Froch wouldn’t be getting more love (especially in his native England) for his in-ring performances. Likewise, despise Arreola’s blubber or no (and I do), but the man rightly can argue that the Adamek fight was good because Arreola made it that way. I want to see him again. The tendency to throw fighters on the scrap heap after losses is one I hope people dismiss in the case of these two men. You can question if you want whether Arreola’s all that good, given that his best win is arguably over Jameel McCline. You can question whether Froch is too limited. But I don’t think there’s any question whether they should be on TV again soon, because they’re really good fun. And even questioning whether someone is elite when he’s shown signs of it in the past is a dangerous idea, as we learned from Kessler’s revival over the weekend. (Froch has shown those signs, while Arreola has occasionally only shown whiffs of it.) [I think Pavlik is in one of those categories — a fun fighter who should be on television regardless and who’s shown signs of being elite for whom doubts are justified but for whom the scrap heap is a bit premature. Thomas Hauser has his usually excellent rundown from inside the fighter’s dressing room here.]
- Home turf in the Super Six. Froch was right about one thing: If this fight had been in Nottingham, he might have gotten the victory. So while his current histrionics about threatening to pull out of the tournament if his bout against Arthur Abraham is in Germany are probably going nowhere, the 5-0 record of Super Six fighters on their home turf is problematic. I don’t have a good solution other than encouraging the fights to be held on neutral turf, but then that also probably means smaller live gates. Or maybe one of these guys can find a way to win a fight on enemy turf, the way Adamek did over the weekend by beating Arreola in California.
- Adamek’s fun, Arreola’s conditioning. Adamek certainly has proven he’s a legit heavyweight, but I think he’s also proven he’s a better cruiserweight. He’s more fun at cruiser, and his power has a greater effect. No use crying over spilled milk, but it’s worth pointing out. Also, as good as Arreola’s post-fight interview was, Adamek’s “I am Highlander” celebration also deserves points for comedy. Another point: I’d noted that Arreola’s conditioning may have failed him late in the fight, and I still think it plausible. But it was also clear from his constant posturing that he was frustrated with Adamek’s movement. No dice on that one, Chris. Adamek fought the way he should’ve if he wanted to beat a bigger man, and he wasn’t going to be cajoled into more of a brawl under those circumstances, nor should he have been.
- My Adamek-Arreola scorecard. I know most people had Adamek winning, and I’ve taken a bit of fire for scoring it a draw, as did the judge who did the same. While I would have leaned toward giving Adamek the win over Arreola — I put it in the range of “Adamek-win-to-draw,” more than thinking Arreola should have won — I think the card is defensible. Fortunately, so did Ring’s Michael Rosenthal, who noted that Yahoo’s Kevin Iole also scored it a draw. The reason I think it was defensible is because while Adamek was getting more work done, his punches clearly were lighter, and Arreola had Adamek in trouble many times. Those fights are the ones that end up with the most wild divergence in scoring. For the record, I gave Arreola the 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 10th and 11th.
- Trainer love. It’s always difficult to know whether a fighter or his trainer is more deserving of credit for a win, but there are a few trainers of late who at least had some role: Ronnie Shields, stepping in as Adamek’s trainer and not missing a beat; Jimmy Montoya, stepping in as Kessler’s trainer, and evidently lighting a fire underneath him; and Gabriel Sarmiento, Martinez’ long-time trainer, consistently joining with Martinez on good game plans and good mid-fight adjustments.
- Up for Alfredo Angulo. The junior middleweight’s promoter, Gary Shaw, likes the idea of matching Angulo with Miguel Cotto or Antonio Margarito. Both are good fights, with the usual caveat that I don’t want to see Margarito fighting anyone because of his cheating. What’s interesting is that Angulo caught some hell from the crowd after his win this weekend, perhaps giving himself an image problem by pouting and not showing up for the weigh-in on time, costing him $15,000, although he said he had no weight problems. Mexican fans seem the be drawn to no-nonsense sluggers, so if Angulo wants to inherit their love, he’d be wise to learn from the jeers he got.
- Other results. Everyone who was supposed to win did. Rafael has the summary.