Sharkie's Machine: Froch Beats Dirrell by Split Decision on First Night of Super Six Tournament

Andre DirrellPhoto by: Tom Casino / SHOWTME - By Frank Gonzalez Jr. - October 17, 2009 - The Super Six Super Middleweight Tournament! What a great thing to see that some promoters finally recognize the importance of doing something to make boxing more exciting in a true competition form, which is common place in most other sports. I hope this tournament inspires more divisions to do the same, maybe we’d end up with one real Champion in each division instead of the circus we have today with four or more “champions” in each division. Kudos to the promoters who made this happen.

This tournament is not perfect but it beats the hell out of no tournament. So far, with only the first two contests in the books, its going as any respectable handicapper would anticipate. Both titlists won their fights against the prospect and former middleweight titlist. The first two were good competitive fights and what more can you ask for? Well, it would’ve been better if Lucian Bute and Librado Andrade were involved. Bute is the IBF titlist and Andrade is a definite top ranked contender, who in reality won by TKO in the final seconds of his fight with Bute but the referee, Marlon Wright, purposely took too much time to issue a count when Bute went down with five seconds to go in the 12th round. Bute was in no condition to continue even after the ref gave him so much time to recover, ultimately allowing Bute to be “saved by the bell” instead of TKO’d. They’re fighting a rematch soon but that rematch should have been part of this tournament. Without Bute and Andrade in this tournament, regardless who wins this tournament, the winner will not have unified all four major titles.

Instead, we got three top guys in IBF titlist Arthur Abraham, the WBA’s Mikkel Kessler and the WBC’s Carl Froch against one former Middleweight champ in Jermain Taylor and two relatively undeserving prospects with powerful promoters in Andre Dirrell and Andre Ward.

Though Super Middleweight prospect Andre Dirrell (18-1, 13 KO’s) lost his O Saturday night in Nottingham, he showed this ‘critic’ that he definitely has heart and the skills to hang with the big boys. There were many annoying moments though, where Dirrell held continuously and complained to the ref or ‘slipped’ to the canvas, in order to force a reset. Dirrell had to be nervous, who wouldn’t be? This was the BIG stage in a foreign land against unbeaten WBC titlist Carl Froch (26-0, 20 KO’s), who prior to this fight, knocked out Jermaine Taylor in the closing moments of the final round of a fight Taylor appeared to be leading on points before being spilled.

It was interesting watching Dirrell operate in the first 12 round fight of his career. Early on Dirrell dealt with a lot of nervous energy, expressed by his talking while fighting and eventually building his confidence from the little successes he enjoyed once he got settled into the fight. For Dirrell’s utter lack of experience, he managed to be competitive for 12 rounds against a titlist caliber fighter.

Though Dirrell lost a Split Decision after 12 rounds, this fight did much to improve Dirrell’s credibility. He went the distance with little trouble and won a few rounds with his speed and ability to counter punch and run. He’s the opposite of what Carl Froch is. Froch comes to trade, slug it out, fight. Dirrell is about showing off his quickness and mobility as he out boxes his opponent. Win or lose, Dirrell’s participation is sure to elevate his career. This is his springboard, after this, it would be hard to go back to fighting overmatched opponents on ESPN.

This was an interesting clash of styles, as Froch, the slugger, kept his hands low and approached Dirrell like as if they were going to have a go at it in a Pub somewhere. For Froch, it’s about stand, deliver and take punches. Whoever’s left standing in the end is the winner. Though he tried, it was rare that Froch caught Dirrell with anything long lasting. While he didn’t have a stellar night, Froch was the aggressor all night as he pressed, chased and cut the ring off from Dirrell and landed the stronger punches.

Dirrell spent more energy but Froch was ultimately more effective, landing the harder shots and always forcing Dirrell backwards. Dirrell had a few good moments midway into the fight and surprisingly, in the late rounds, he threw some full extension punches that landed. Dirrell even appeared to stun Froch in the tenth round with a straight left that penetrated the guard. It was one of the cleanest punches in the whole fight. Froch didn’t stay stunned for long though and if Dirrell didn’t hold so often, he might’ve won that round because the ref took a point away from him for what had to be excessive holding.

For Froch’s part, he often managed to land something that forced Dirrell to clinch, run or slip. These two couldn’t be more different. Froch moved forward, Dirrell jumped in and out with his speedy jabs and little combinations. Dirrell got popped a few times and showed a good beard and ability to run. This would’ve been more entertaining if Dirrell didn’t hold so often. Froch also fouled often but mostly on account of how Dirrell would lean into a position where Froch’s punches were finding the back of Dirrell’s head. This was no great night for Froch either, as he never got the chance to do what he does best; stand and trade with Dirrell, a place where Froch’s style is best suited.

Froch did get to take Dirrell into the deep waters in the late rounds, expecting Dirrell to fade but that didn’t pan out as Froch had hoped because when Dirrell wasn’t holding, he showed good stamina, counter punching and slippery boxing skills.

Dirrell was aggressive in the 12th round and both rallied in spots but it was Froch that landed the more telling blows.

When the final bell rung, there was a feeling of mutual respect that seemed to neutralize the foul odor of all the disrespectful antics of Dirrell leading up to the fight. Both men respected each other after going 12 rounds. They sat together with arms locked while the announcer read the Judges scores.

It was announced a Split Decision. Two of the judges had it 115-112 for Froch and one had it 114-113 for Dirrell.

During the post fight interviews, Dirrell said he thought he’d out boxed Froch enough to win. He said he didn’t know why the ref took a point in the tenth round and he attributed Froch’s getting the win on having a hometown advantage.

Froch said he was surprised that it was a Split Decision, certain that he’d won the fight outright. He complained about Dirrell’s constant holding and running and said he looks forward to his next opponent, Mikkel Kessler, because Kessler is a “fighter” and will stand and trade with him, though he acknowledged that Kessler is primarily a boxer as opposed to a slugger. Froch admitted that he wasn’t 100% satisfied with his performance but said he’d beat Dirrell again if he has to. He credited Dirrell for being a good fighter with slippery skills but said he will never beat “The Cobra.”

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Article posted on 18.10.2009

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