Although the format of Showtime's remaining Super Six World Boxing Classic bouts remains in limbo due to the sudden withdrawal of super middleweight titlist Mikkel Kessler due to an eye injury on Aug. 25, there were two significant decisions made Monday as it relates to the stakes.
The WBC, which has supported the six-man tournament from the outset, announced that it has stripped the injured Kessler of his 168-pound belt and named him the organization's "champion emeritus." That means when Kessler, who is expected to be sidelined for about nine months, returns the WBC will allow him to immediately challenge for the title.
Further, the WBC said it voted unanimously to fill the vacancy with the winner of the bout between Andre Ward, who holds the WBA's title, and Andre Dirrell, who is the WBC's No. 1 contender.
The WBC also sanctioned the Oct. 2 Super Six bout between former titlist Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham as a final title eliminator, which means the winner of Ward-Dirrell will be mandated to face the Froch-Abraham winner next.
"The WBC accepted to support the Super Six Tournament organized by Showtime and five different promoters from around the world and have participated at all times to support its progress and its success," WBC president Jose Sulaiman said in a statement.
Kessler, who suffers from "a weakness of the superior oblique muscle of his left eye," according to eye specialist Dr. Gerhard Lang, was supposed to defend his belt against Allan Green in Group Stage 3 on Sept. 25 before dropping out of the tournament.
That has left Showtime trying to figure out how to proceed with the final stage of the round-robin portion of the tournament as it tries to set up the semifinals. Although it has not been formally announced, multiple promoters involved in the tournament told ESPN.com that Showtime probably will eliminate Group Stage 3 and have Ward-Dirrell and Froch-Abraham serve as the semifinals, a scenario that matches the plan laid out by the WBC. Those four fighters are also the four highest seeds remaining in the tournament.
If Green, who replaced Jermain Taylor after his departure following Group Stage 1, is dropped, promoter Lou DiBella said he expects Showtime to give Green another bout to fulfill its obligation to him.
The big question remaining is when and where will Ward-Dirrell take place? The 2004 U.S. Olympic teammates and friends are scheduled to fight Sept. 25, according to Showtime. However, that is not going to happen. There is no site, no tickets on sale, no undercard in the works and there has yet to be a news conference or any semblance of a promotion. Neither fighter is in heavy training either, which is extraordinarily unusual for a significant fight slated to take place in less than three weeks.
Dirrell acknowledged the fight would be moved, answering a question about the date of the fight on his Twitter page Saturday.
"Just postponed as I know, not off," Dirrell said about the fight.
Showtime is pressing for the fight to be scheduled immediately. It served Dan Goossen, Ward's promoter, and Gary Shaw, Dirrell's promoter, with a legal letter late last week demanding to know where the fight would take place. If the fight isn't scheduled, Showtime said it would sue the promoters, who entered into the tournament more than a year ago.
"I don't know, but as far as I know the fight will go off," Shaw told ESPN.com. "I don't know what date. And I do know that Goossen and me have been put on notice [by Showtime] that the fight has to go or we would be in breach."
Although Shaw is Dirrell's promoter, he does not call the shots. Adviser Al Haymon does, which Shaw acknowledged. Shaw said he has not negotiated a site with Goossen.
"I'm out to of the loop to be truthful," he said.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com; follow him on Twitter @danrafaelespn.