Martinez said Saturday that he wants to fight three more times before hanging up the gloves for good. Sadly, it's highly unlikely he'll attract Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather into the ring -- the risk/reward just doesn't make sense for either of them. But other attractive options exist, among them Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, Antonio Margarito and a rubber match with Paul Williams. He could also go about trying to unify the fractured middleweight championship, taking aim at Dmitry Pirog, Felix Sturm and Sebastian Sylvester -- not exactly box-office draws but fights HBO might pony up for.
Ward has proven to be the class of the Super Six and shouldn't have any trouble with Bika, a good puncher with a solid chin who doesn't have the skills to match Ward in the ring. Fighting in front of his home crowd in Oakland should be a boost to Ward, too; I expect an easy decision win.
Part of me hopes Abraham and Froch fight in front of 75 people in Helsinki; the way those two complained about the venue for this fight was evidence that neither one is a true champion. That said, I like Abraham's power in this one. King Arthur has a history of starting slow and he could be in trouble if Froch wins the early rounds and just tries to survive the later ones. But I've always believed Froch to be vastly overrated and I think Abraham stops him in the later rounds.
As far as Ward-Bika, Oakland should be treated to an impressive win by its hometown hero. Ward has evolved into a top-flight fighter, and while Bika is tough and skilled enough to make it a show, I don¹t expect much more.
Abraham has promised to send Froch into retirement and he could just make good on that pledge. Both men are coming off frustrating losses and will be eager to re-establish themselves as marketable forces. Both are also tough guys who can and will throw big punches. In the end, though, Abraham brings more to the table. Look for Froch, who sagged at times against Kessler, to fade in the middle rounds as Abraham continues to pour it on.
Ward, the WBA super middleweight champion who's been a staple in the Top 10 of SI.com's pound-for-pound ratings for months, should have an easy time against Bika, an awkward pressure fighter (and former
With Abraham and Froch, you've got two accomplished fighters each coming off losses. Froch's reach and workrate should give Abraham trouble, but I like King Arthur -- a notoriously slow starter -- to pick it up in the middle rounds and close the show with a late stoppage.
I like this tournament a lot more than the Super Six. If we learned anything from Showtime's first tournament it's that the round-robin format just doesn't work. Quick, single-elimination tournaments are the way to go and this bantamweight tourney will provide two exciting, meaningful shows for the network to air over the next few months..
When packaged like this, tournaments have the potential to ramp up the excitement and focus in any division. Good for Showtime for making it happen.
I'll pick Perez and Mares to advance to the final in the Dec. 11 semifinal doubleheader with Perez bringing home the championship in the spring.
That said, the success or failure of the World Series will not hinge upon drawing viewers in the U.S., but in Europe and, especially, in Asia. With corporate sponsorship following there, the Series could thrive. What I wish, though, is that some of the money finds its way back to the U.S. amateur program, which remains so sadly diminished from what it once was.