Seriously Though, Dirrell Deserved It More Than Froch

Andre DirrellPhoto credit: Sumio Yamada – By Stuart Cornwell: When all was said and done, Carl “The Cobra” Froch had successfully defended his WBC super-middleweight title with a split decision over American Andre “The Matrix” Dirrell in his hometown of Nottingham, England. With Dirrell being deducted a point for pulling or holding or other such messiness in the 10th round, the final scores were 115-112, 115-112 for Froch, and 114-113 Dirrell.

Yet while I don’t think Andre Dirrell was the victim of a outrageous robbery bad by the historical standards us boxing fans are uncomfortably accustomed to, I do believe he suffered from an unfair and ultimately inexcusable “hometown decision”.

There are a lot of people (Carl Froch foremost among them) saying Dirrell did not deserve the decision because he spent too much of the fight running, holding and complaining to the referee. On the face of it that sounds like a reasonable assertion. The inclusion of such tactics is usually enough to prevent a challenger producing a championship-winning performance. But when the challenger is facing a champion whose defence of his title consists of hitting thin air and blocking punches with his face, then it is fair to say he is doing enough. Apart from a wrestling throw that put Dirrell on his back in the 5th round, and some scathing comments against Dirrell’s “negativity” in the post-fight interview, I witnessed almost nothing resembling an effective attack from Froch all night. An occasional punch landed, some rough-house tactics and an intimidating presence may have been enough to throw the young upstart Dirrell into an overly negative mode from time to time, but not enough to claim 7 of the 12 rounds (as two of the three judges reckoned) against a fighter who landed the greater number of punches, landed the cleaner punches and actually avoided incoming punches.

For sure, Dirrell ran too much and complained too much to really impress us fans with his performance overall. But when he stopped running it was almost always him doing the scoring, not Froch - with Froch simply stopping blows with his head and trying desperately to land something solid of his own. The most promising thing about Dirrell was that he seemed to grow during the fight and showed flashes of heart and fire later on by getting the better of Froch in a few short exchanges. If Dirrell can double his confidence and learn to accept, without complaint, the rough stuff that should be expected from opponents at this level, he might prove to be a special fighter. Froch, on the other hand, looks to have improved none on the glaring weakness displayed in his previous two title fights - namely, his almost non-existent defence.

Froch claimed afterwards it was an easy comfortable night’s work for him, and that he was never hit with anything hurtful, and that he never got a real fight out of Dirrell - and maybe he’s right on all counts- but he fought the full 12 rounds without scoring the knockdowns or knockout such a tough-man style and attitude should require to have made him the winner last night. As a pure fighting man Carl Froch probably is superior to Andre Dirrell at this stage, but over 12 rounds of somewhat unsatisfactory boxing I swear he should have lost out to his slicker, quicker rival last night.

Carl Froch may have been the beneficiary of a hometown decision last night but his next fight in this Super Six series will be against Mikkel Kessler in the Dane’s own backyard. Before that we will see what happens when Kessler and Andre Ward square off next month, opening their own campaigns in the Super Six tournament. The benchmark for Kessler and Ward is certainly Arthur Abraham’s solid and dramatic performance against Jermain Taylor last night, and not Froch’s dubious win or Dirrell’s minimally-admirable performance in disputed defeat. I reserve judgment on Ward’s chances of beating Kessler because I simply don’t know enough about the young American at this stage to offer up any credible opinion. Still, I am quite confident that Kessler can beat Froch - and relatively easily - regardless of whether or not he’s upset next month by Ward. And Kessler wont be needing any hometown cooking to accomplish the task. Froch simply gets hit too much.

Dirrell’s next engagement is against Abraham and he probably needs all the good fortune he was deprived of last night to be carried over in lieu to that one. I wont write him off completely because I sense he’s a young fighter who could and should improve from fight to fight, and his god-given abilities (speed, reflexes) are remarkable, but in Abraham he’ll be up against a fighter just as tough, strong, powerful, intimidating and determined as Froch - but a tight defence on top !

Article posted on 19.10.2009

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