As we head into the month of December, the SHOWTIME network will be airing the finals of the two tournaments they have been working on. On December 3rd, Abner Mares takes on Joseph Agbeko in the finals of the Bantamweight Tournament and on the 17th Carl Froch battles Andre Ward in the Middleweight Finals. On the bright side, both are pretty damned good fights, but bad luck and bad management have left both finals with almost ZERO momentum.
The Middleweight tournament, dubbed the Super 6, was launched in October of 2009. It had a field of 6 of the top fighters in the World, and was launched to much fanfare. After a series of drop outs and replacements, the tournament has extended itself well beyond the time frame expected and lost a lot of it’s steam. Finalist Ward has expressed that the delays have made him a bit mentally weary, that he really wants to get it over with. Perhaps the only positive spin that can be put on this is that two of the original entrants are in the finals.
In December of 2010, SHOWTIME launched the Bantamweight tournament. With the Super 6 firmly stalled at that time, the Bantamweight tournament was limited to a single elimination 4 man tourney, rather than employ the complicated point system of the Super 6. Agbeko suffered a back injury leading into the finals that caused a postponement, but still it should not take a year to finish a four man tournament!
And here is the sad part about how boxing is promoted in the 21st century. There are no promoters out there planning any tournaments. Yes, keeping them together is hard, but the entire format seems to have been scrapped by the industry, and that is a shame.
Both the four and the six man tournaments are compelling in their continuity, if executed correctly. Tournaments require structure – a venue and date must be set in advance from beginning to end, and alternate fighters, alternate fights and replacement procedures must be set in advance so that should they be called upon, they do not alter the schedule in anyway. It is a matter of planning and logistics, but this seemed to have escaped the folks at SHOWTIME.
So for Boxing fans, this coming month brings us two really good fights as the finals of tournaments that at times have been painful to watch. But neither the fighters, the fans or the format should be punished for the shortcomings in the planning and organization. I’m calling for more of this type of format in boxing, especially to develop contenders, let’s not give up on a good idea because it isn’t easy to plan. The sport deserves better!