Round 2 to start with Abraham-Dirrell

Dates have been set for the second batch of bouts in the Super Six World Boxing Classic, promoter Gary Shaw told ESPN.com on Friday.

Shaw is one of the five promoters with fighters involved in Showtime's revolutionary modified round-robin tournament featuring six elite super middleweights.

Andre Dirrell (18-1, 13 KOs), who is promoted by Shaw, will face tournament leader Arthur Abraham (31-0, 25 KOs) of Germany in the pre-determined opener of Group Stage 2 on March 6 at the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif.

The other two bouts of Group Stage 2 will take place on April 17. Showtime will air a doubleheader on that date, opening with taped coverage of Carl Froch's title defense against former titlist Mikkel Kessler (42-2, 32 KOs) from a site to be determined in Europe -- either Froch's home country of England or Kessler's native Denmark.

Then the action will shift to the United States for live coverage of titleholder Andre Ward's first defense against Jermain Taylor, or another opponent should Taylor drop out of the tournament, as some expect he will do.

Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KOs), the former undisputed middleweight champ, has lost four of his last five fights and has been brutally knocked out in three of the losses, including back-to-back 12th-round knockouts to Abraham Oct. 17 in Group Stage 1 and Froch (26-0, 20 KOs) in April.

Ward (21-0, 13 KOs), who thrashed Kessler for a lopsided unanimous 11-round technical decision in an upset on Nov. 21 to win a title, likely will have his April bout in his hometown of Oakland, Calif, site of his victory against Kessler.

Abraham leads the tournament with three points -- two for the win against Taylor and an extra point for the knockout. Ward and Froch, who outpointed Dirrell on Oct. 17 in Group Stage 1, each have two points. Kessler, Taylor and Dirrell have no points.

The four fighters with the most points after Group Stage 3 will advance to the semifinals.

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.