Congratulations to Andre Dirrell (19-1, 13 KO’s), who fought without fear and put together the most impressive performance of his career in his fight against the favorite to win it all in “King” Arthur Abraham (31-1, 25 KO’s) in the second leg of Showtime’s Super Six Super Middleweight Tournament.
I had Dirrell pegged as the weakest among the six contestants of this tournament because of his lack of experience against quality opponents and because of the way he ran, slipped and complained to the ref in his first bout against Carl Froch. But Saturday night in Detroit , Andre Dirrell manned up and showed his best and I stand happily corrected in my assessment of his qualifications for even being in this tournament.
This fight was a mismatch from the opening bell as Dirrell drew from the well of his natural talents, where he converted his ability to runinto shifting direction and constantly making Abraham miss. Dirrell used his speed advantage to constantly pepper Abraham with jabs, hooks and combinations. He was calm, cool and efficient. By the time Abraham started to make it a fight, Dirrell had raked up the points and was riding high on confidence.
Anyone who follows Abraham knows he is a slow starter and tends to lose the first few rounds. While he’s not a good starter, he’s a great finisher. His style is to let his opponents wear themselves out trying to break through his peek-a-boo style guard and then take them into the late rounds and finish them. Abraham’s not all that fast, nor is he a crafty boxer per se but he’s tough as nails and has big time KO power in either hand. He can take all his opponents can dish out and then find a way to score a knockout late.
After being dominated for three rounds, Abraham landed a big right in the fourth but Dirrell countered with an even cleaner straight left that saw Abraham fall backwards to the canvas. It was the first time he’d been knocked down in his pro career. Dirrell fought fearlessly and proved to have the superior boxing skills and athleticism to out box, break down and frustrate Arthur Abraham.
I had Dirrell winning eight rounds in a row when in the ninth, Abraham started getting closer and landing more than just a few. Dirrell tasted his power but showed a solid chin and discipline. That was a very close round and appeared to be the turner of the tide. In the tenth round, Abraham was landing better shots and finally caught Dirrell with a right that sent him down. Referee Lawrence Cole ruled it a slip, saying their feet got tangled but the instant replay showed that Cole was wrong and that it was a legit knockdown. Boxing really needs to use Instant Replay for these situations.
The tide looked to be turning from that point and Abraham opened the eleventh round in seek and destroy mode. He aggressively pressed Dirrell towards the ropes and on the way there, Dirrell slipped and for just an instant, real life looked like slow motion as Dirrell was getting in position to rise from the canvas, Abraham looked at him, saw him starting to get up from the canvas and then threw a right hand that landed to the face of Dirrell, who looked to take the illegal punch okay but then suddenly, fell back to the canvas, eyes closed and while he was down, his legs looked to shake in a strange way.
The referee disqualified Arthur Abraham on the spot. Dirrell was down for a while and when he came to, he was crying and talking like he’d lost the fighteven though the ref told him his opponent had been disqualified. Dirrell remained in a dazed state as he got up and the ring filled with people telling him he was the winner. His brother stood behind him saying that yes, he won but they didn’t want to win like this.
While its true that only the most crooked judges in Texas or Germany might’ve had Abraham ahead, the assumption that Dirrell was going to win is invalid, since Abraham has a history of winning fights at the end via knockout. It was Abraham’s blatant foul alone that sealed his fate Saturday night. During the post fight interview, Abraham said that Dirrell is a great actor and implied that Dirrell was pretending to be knocked out. That’s a pretty dumb thing to say considering that Abraham was the one who caused the fight to end on a foul. Whether Dirrell was knocked out or not is irrelevant since the result would be the same for Abraham; a loss by DQ.
But all is not lost. The contestants in the Super Six must all face each other twice before the points are tallied up and a winner is named. Suddenly, Dirrell looks like one of the most dangerous guys in the tournament. Allan Green, who came in as a replacement for Jermain Taylor is set to fight Andre Ward next and Kessler’s set to fight Froch. This Super Six Tournament would’ve been better if Lucian Bute was included, since without him, the winner will only still be just another “titlist” and not the Champion of the 168 pound division.
But for a sport that has nearly no legit structure, the Super Six Tournament may be the only thing keeping me interested in boxing these days. After Floyd found a way to not fight Pacman and Pacman refused to succumb to Floyd’s new testing rulesI’m just disgusted with the way boxing is run. What’s so cool about a sport where the athletes get to cherry pick their opponents? I didn’t watch Pacman vs. Clottey because I didn’t care and already knew Pacman would win. Clottey fought like he was there to collect a big payday and didn’t even try to win. For that you paid 60 bucks? Where’s the drama in boxing when you nearly always know whose going to win? Boxing will get better when we fans stop supporting bullshit Pay Per Views that enrich frauds who don’t want to fight the best fighters.
Kudos to Showtime for giving us the Super Six Tournament, where there’s no ducking top fighters and everyone has to fight each other twice. After watching Dirrell vs. Abraham, it’s clear that these types of tournaments are the best thing to bring boxing back to the lofty status it once enjoyed. What are the other divisions waiting for to start their own tournaments?.