The SHOWTIME World Boxing Classic Super Six tournament staged another superbly exciting battle between Andre Dirrell and Arthur Abraham on Saturday night in Detroit but this time there was a near-tragic ending to spoil the success.
Andre Dirrell was masterful for 10 rounds outboxing and dominating the unbeaten King Arthur Abraham at the Joe Louis Arena. Dirrell’s performance was probably the best of the year on American soil as he demonstrated spectacular boxing skills, reflexes, power, speed, accuracy and defensive agility to make the highly regarded favorite of the tournament from Berlin, Germany look ordinary.
Dirrell floored an off-balance and bleeding Abraham for the first time in his career in round four with a straight left.
As fine as Dirrell was boxing, Abraham began to inch closer to making it interesting in the second half. In round nine, Abraham connected with a monster right to floor Dirrell however the referee Laurence Cole mistakenly overruled, claiming the knockdown was caused by a foot tangle. Abraham knew his man was hurt though and followed up like starved tiger on an injured calf but Dirrell survived the vicious assault. But you could see Dirrell was fading and Abraham was still very strong.
In round ten, Abraham increased the pressure and began to score more. It was turning into a titanic struggle of classic boxing at its best. Would the master boxer survive? Could the predator capture his prey before time ran out?
In round eleven, Abraham pursued Dirrell into a corner. The American’s right foot slipped on a ring ad, causing him to fall awkwardly into a semi-split. Abraham pounced, apparently unaware Dirrell was completely down – in his defense, it’s hard to tell in the heat of the battle and from that viewpoint. Abraham then unleashed a vicious right which knocked the man from Flint unconscious. Like many frustrated or overzealous boxers (Roy Jones vs. Montell Griffin, Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto, Vitali Klitschko vs. Danny Williams, come to mind), Abraham could not resist the chance to foul punch at his opponent and was correctly punished, in this case with disqualification. Dirrell needed minutes to be revived and was still incoherent almost ten minutes after the foul. Jim Gray attempted to interview Dirrell on live TV but Dirrell still was not aware that he won the fight by DQ, even though his entourage were trying to tell him he won the fight. Dirrell, still affected by the foul, could not understand this and still believed he had been knocked out by Abraham.
Abraham looked in a bit of shock himself, standing frozen along the ring ropes in the same spot. At first, Abraham believed Dirrell was faking the injury but later realized there was nothing insincere about Dirrell’s reaction, he was severely hurt by the devastating foul. It was sad to see Dirrell in that confused, pained and anguished state as he exited the arena, still not knowing he was the victor though he had performed such a masterclass exhibition of the sweet science.
It was also a shame such a memorable night of class boxing had to be ruined by the unlikely factor of a ring ad placed on the canvas. How many times have we seen a boxer slip on one of those wet ring ads during the action? This time, it almost could have been a tragic fatality. In boxing, as we all know, one brutal, deadly punch can not only end a man’s career, it can also end a life.
This time, the slippery ring ad and the subsequent foul punch wrecked a beautiful performance by Dirrell who hopefully will make a full recovery from this. It also ruined a potential spectacular, desperate comeback knockout win by Abraham who was so close to landing his atomic bomb on his fatigued foe and still had more than three minutes to do it.
Hopfully what happened in this match will initiate boxing decision-makers to eliminate ASAP those dangerous canvas ring ads – or at least change the materials used in them so they are not so dangerously slippery when wet.
Dirrell’s record improves to 19-1 with 13 KO’s while Abraham is now 31-1 (25). Dirrell was leading on alll three scorecards – 98-91, 97-92, 97-92.