By Thomas Gerbasi
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York - Anthony Dirrell had his moments to become the first member of his family to earn a world title, but despite knocking WBC super middleweight champion Sakio Bika down and seeing the Australian lose another point due to a foul, the judges ruled otherwise, with a draw verdict allowing Bika to retain his crown.
The verdict read 116-110 Dirrell, 114-112 Bika, and 113-113.
The tone of the fight was set almost immediately, with Dirrell cool, calm, and accurate with his attack and Bika intent on making it a brawl, as evidenced by his early first round takedown of Dirrell. By the second, Dirrell was landing flush with power shots repeatedly, but Bika continued to march forward in an effort to land his wild haymakers, having erratic levels of success.
Dirrell did jar Bika with right hands on two occasions in round three, but he was unable to capitalize, as the Australia product cleared his head immediately and got back to brawling, which served him well in round four as Dirrell slowed down slightly, allowing Bika to do some quality work along the ropes.
The fifth started out well for the champion as well, but with under a minute left, a laser-like right kicked off a sequence that ended with Bika on the canvas. He rose on rubbery legs, but was able to survive the round, and as round six began, Bika pinned Dirrell to the ropes and opened up with both hands. Dirrell kept his guard high as Bika unloaded, periodically firing off counters of his own in response. In the final minute, all hell broke loose, with Dirrell getting rocked by a right to the jaw and the Michigan native returning the favor seconds later, bringing a roar from the crowd that lasted until the bell.
Bika outworked Dirrell in the seventh and the eighth, with the fight getting sloppier by the minute, a development which favored the champion. Dirrell got back into a groove late in the ninth though and another late round series of flush power shots likely stole the tenth round for him.
Welcoming Dirrell to the championship rounds with vicious hooks to the body, a shot to the head when he slipped to the mat, and low blow that earned him a point deduction from referee David Fields, Bika pulled out all his tricks in an effort to fluster Dirrell in round 11, but the Flint product kept his cool, knowing that in such a close fight, that point might have been the difference.
Bika agreed, going on the attack with reckless abandon in the final round, even pushing Dirrell to the canvas in the corner in the opening minute. After another warning from Fields, Bika went right back to the attack with crushing body shots as Dirrell tried to counter upstairs. With 40 seconds left, Dirrell, now bleeding over the left eye, fired off a series of right at Bika before raising his hands and running around the ring in anticipation of the victory.
Bikas record goes to 32-5-3 with 21 KOs. Dirrell, the brother of former Olympian Andre Dirrell, moves to 26-0-1 with 22 KOs.Tags: Anthony Dirrell , Sakio Bika