23 September 2010
Boxing fans have to have a high disappointment threshold. That's because promising fights get called off all the time, and plenty of other ones that would make economic and athletic sense simply never get made for one reason or another.
But what about a fight that simply ceases to exist? The bout is supposed to happen, but it never gets a date or a venue. It hasn't been officially canceled either, but none of the principals will talk about it. Like the alternate worlds from Crisis on Infinite Earths, it just fades into nothingness.
Case in point: the Andre Ward-Andre Dirrell fight. For those of you just joining us, this match-up was supposed to be part of the third stage of the round robin portion of the Super Six World Boxing Classic.
The whole tournament is in jeopardy thanks to Mikkel Kessler withdrawing from the whole thing and Carl Froch begging off from fighting Arthur Abraham (at least for now) due to injury. Yet publicly, Showtime continued to promote Ward-Dirrell for the longest time like it was going to take place on September 25.
In reality, the people handling the two Andres never really agreed for them to meet. There was never a venue chosen or a contract signed, and without those two things, it's pretty hard to have a boxing match.
Supposedly, Showtime has threatened legal action against the promoters. But again, no one will really talk about it.
Steve Kim of MaxBoxing has a great piece up today speculating that part of the problem is that Ward and Dirrell are close friends, and he takes a look at other friends who have traded punches in the ring. Kim's conclusion is that like it or not, if you make friends in this line of work, you may find yourself throwing down with him at some point.
I'm sure the friendship is at least part of the sticking point, but my guess is that Ward and Dirrell may also be afflicted with what I affectionately call Chad Dawson Syndrome(though maybe this is less valid in the wake of Chad's lethargic loss to Jean Pascal). This occurs when boxers feel that they should be getting paid more than they're being offered, but their ability to put butts in the seats and attract viewers at home doesn't match up with their in-ring talent.
Sadly, this is something that seems to be pretty widespread for American boxers in the post-Roy Jones, post-Oscar De La Hoya and possibly post-Floyd Mayweather era. Ward and Dirrell have had trouble selling tickets even in their own backyards, much less in a neutral site like Las Vegas, so it's quite possible that even though they are two of the brightest young U.S. stars, what they want is more than what Showtime is willing to pay.
Whatever the reason, the fight is in a type of limbo that is strange even for the sport of boxing. Kim got as close to anyone I've seen at getting someone on the record to comment - in this case, Ward promoter Dan Goossen - but all he was really told was that the fight is "off limits." Kim's sources told him that it's possible the bout is closing in on a November 27 date (which would really, really load up that month in the sweet science), but as both K-9 and our own Uatu have said, we'll have to see it to believe it.
That is, if there was ever really a Ward-Dirrell fight in the works at all. Wink, wink.