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Ward super in tourney spotlight

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Short shots about the world of professional boxing:

Allan Green was worse than awful in losing his Super Six World Boxing Classic debut on Saturday in Oakland, Calif., against Andre Ward. By about the fourth round, Green's primary concern seemed not to be winning the fight, but rather reaching the finish line on his feet.

After all the pre-fight smack talk he did, it was a pitiful effort when it mattered. But Green's performance shouldn't obscure Ward's brilliance. Ward won all 12 rounds on all three judges' cards and in his two tournament fights, he's won 59 of the 66 scored rounds.

The next step in Ward's progression will be to show his power more than he has and to win on the road. Ward has fought both of his Super Six fights in Oakland, his hometown, but his Sept. 25 match against Andre Dirrell will be elsewhere, perhaps in Las Vegas. The guy is a superstar in the making, but he's not going to get there until he begins stopping quality boxers.

I suspect it's not long before we'll see that.

Green's pitiful effort came in place of Jermain Taylor, who withdrew from the competition after getting dominated by Arthur Abraham and eventually knocked out. Fighters are given two points for a win and a point for a draw, with a single bonus point for a win by knockout or technical knockout. The four men with the most points after the third round will advance to the single-elimination semifinals.

This exposes one of the flaws of the Super Six scoring system. The Green/Taylor spot is 0-2 in the competition with zero points and has never been in either fight. Yet, if Green knocks out Kessler in his next bout, there's a chance he'll advance to the semifinals.

After the second stage, Ward is 2-0 and has four points. Abraham, Kessler, Dirrell and Carl Froch are 1-1 and have two points. Green has zero.

In the third round, Dirrell fights Ward, Froch fights Abraham and Kessler fights Green. If Ward and Abraham wins and Green knocks out Kessler, Green would advance. I like the idea of a tournament, but it works much better if it's an eight-man or four-man single elimination event.

I'm more than sick about Froch's whining about his loss to Kessler. Specifically, it's enough to make you want to vomit when Froch says he believes he would have won had the fight been in Nottingham, England, his hometown, instead of in Denmark, where Kessler is from.

I guess Dirrell could be whining about his fight with Froch, which was in Nottingham and which Froch won by a controversial split decision.

Man up, Carl, and quit the complaining. You'd get a lot more respect if you had a bit more of the warrior mentality.

World Boxing Association heavyweight champion David Haye has been called out by James Toney. Toney, who fights Randy Couture in an Ultimate Fighting Championship match on Aug. 28 in Boston, has said he plans to knock out Couture and then to go after Haye.

But Haye, who is a big UFC fan and has trained in mixed martial arts, laughs off Toney's threats. He doesn't believe Toney's going to be able to fight him after he gets pummeled by Couture, though he has mad respect for Toney's boxing skill and record.

"James Toney is the purest of the pure at boxing," Haye said. "He is so brilliant at boxing and his skills are so ingrained in him that he's been an elite level fighter, in shape or not in shape, his skills alone put him on another level as a boxer.

Couture is a former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion who is a decorated wrestler. Haye believes Couture will take Toney down quickly and easily and pummel him on the ground.

"Six months of training isn't going to be enough," Haye said. "As a UFC fan, I know two or three years wouldn't be enough. How many times has Toney sprawled in his life? 500? How many leg kicks has he taken in his life? 300? How many Kimura attempts has he defended? 140? Even if he's done double that amount, he wouldn't have nearly the experience needed to win a UFC fight."

Haye said Toney would be best off if he lands his punches early, because if he's not finished after grappling with Couture on the ground, he's going to be surprised by how beaten up and heavy his arms feel.

"I know from training in MMA myself that the wrestling aspect ruins your punching power," Haye said. "After a minute of grappling, your arms, back and shoulders fill with blood and even if you then find space to throw punches, your power is suddenly crap.

"And I hit a lot harder and I'm so much faster than James, and I couldn't land a punch on fighters when all they wanted to do was take me down to the ground. James is a much more static fighter than I am, and is going to get thrown on his back immediately by Randy. I admire Toney's spirit and boxing skills. But he's delusional here."

Former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver, now 42, said he's not going to retire from boxing and plans to compete as a heavyweight. He said he wants to make a run for the heavyweight title.

In other news, Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said his team is going to make a run at the World Series.

And, oh yeah, there are little green men running around on Mars. Count on it.

In an interview with the Spanish-language television network Univision, Oscar De La Hoya said that negotiations for a fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. are close to being finalized.

Translations of the interview quoted De La Hoya as saying, "Obviously it has been a difficult negotiation, for many reasons. But now, we are very, very close in finalizing these contracts. It has been complicated, but both fighters realize that this fight needs to be made. It has to be made because the fans want this fight and it is the biggest fight in the world, for the boxing world. It's going to be a super big fight. I think we are really, really close in finalizing those contracts. I obviously cannot talk about the negotiations, but we are very close."

Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer, in an interview with AOL Fanhouse, said De La Hoya was misquoted.

However, numerous bilingual speakers watched the video and confirmed the accuracy of the English translation.

Schaefer was traveling to Mexico and couldn't be reached for comment. But it's clear that De La Hoya knows something and spoke when he shouldn't have. There is a gag order on promoters Bob Arum, Schaefer and Leonard Ellerbe, Pacquiao adviser Mike Koncz and Mayweather adviser Al Haymon (who has a permanent gag since he'll never speak to the media anyway).

I've long been a skeptic, but I finally believe the fight is going to happen.

It will be in November and in Las Vegas, I believe. The only question is whether it's sponsored by Wynn Resorts and held at the Thomas & Mack Center on the UNLV campus or whether it's sponsored by the MGM Resorts International (formerly known as MGM Mirage) and held at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

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