Cable network Showtime has sent notification to the promoters of Andre Dirrell and Andre Ward that they have until early October to get in the ring for their Super Six semi-final match.
The deadline was sent through formal letters that threatened legal action for breach of contract if the two friends do not meet by next month. The fight was originally scheduled to take place on September 25, but neither man has begun training camps, held a press conference, or confirmed a venue.
Ward is promoted by Dan Goossen, and Gary Shaw is retained by Andre Dirrell. Despite speculation for the stalled match being the close friendship of the two, their promoters revealed a contract impasse on the purse split has been the reason for the delay.
With the withdrawal of Mikkel Kessler, Dirrell-Ward would not only be for Ward’s WBA title, but a chance to unify with the WBC champion in the tournament finals against the winner of Froch-Abraham. Ward is the only fighter to remain undefeated in the tournament with decision wins over Mikkel Kessler and Allan Green. Dirrell lost a close split decision to Carl Froch in his first bout, and won a controversial disqualification over Arthur Abraham in his second fight.
Before the beginning of the Super Six, Showtime had each competitor sign exclusive contracts to compete against each other for tournament’s 2009-2011 timeframe. A breach of contract by Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell would open the fighters up to a costly lawsuit.
At press time, neither fighter has commented on Showtime’s demand.
Bravo, Showtime! In a year that’s given more headlines to contract disputes than superfights actually happening, it’s a ray of hope to see a big network finally saying enough is enough.
Before it seemed as if the networks didn’t realize the power they had. Fighters need TV. Showtime and HBO go into their pockets to buy fights and promote, so it’s only right that they purchase the best possible matchups. It benefits everyone. Competitive matchups make fighters better, gives more exciting contests to the fans, and draws in more viewers. And of course it helps raise the profile of the sport. HBO seems to have put their foot down about Andre Berto as well, who’s career hasn’t progressed much in the last few years due to his competition level.
What I also like about Showtime’s move is that they’re not getting involved in the actual contract issues. They’re simply stating “you guys need to work this out or this will be the consequence.” HBO may want to consider a similar move in regards to the next Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiations instead of trying to play mediator as HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg attempted to do over the summer.
I expect Gary Shaw and Dan Goossen to work out the contract kinks very quickly and get their fighters in the ring by mid-October.