By Jake Donovan
After years of never matching his fighters together, Al Haymon continues a running trend of fishing and cutting bait.
All but one of the eight fighters appearing on tonight’s massive SHOWTIME-televised quadruple header enjoy the benefits of plying their trade for the most powerful adviser in the sport. Zab Judah is the only fighter on the telecast, live from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, not (yet) under the Haymon banner.
The numbers leave three of the four bouts with both sides sharing the same advisory banner. Among the lot is the opening leg of the telecast, as Sakio Bika makes the first defense of his super middleweight belt versus unbeaten challenger Anthony Dirrell.
Many suggest the fight will steal the show, and both fighters have done their part to arouse interest.
Bika (32-5-2, 21KO) has been humble yet responsive when necessary in the trash talk preceding his first title defense. The Cameroon-born, Australia-based super middleweight returns to the venue which crowned him a champion, when he edged out Mexico’s Marco Antonio Periban to claim a vacant belt this past June.
Dirrell (26-0, 22KO) has overcome far more outside the ropes than he figures to ever encounter in the ring. A member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic boxing team along with older brother Andre Dirrell, who won a bronze medal, the younger Dirrell has endured two separate major setbacks on the road to contention.
A bout with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma left him out of the ring for two years while undergoing chemotherapy treatment. The triumphant return was momentarily derailed when a broken leg kept him out of action for all of 2012.
The stops and starts have halted his development as a pro, though Dirrell has managed two wins since returning to the ring earlier this year. His last fight, a 3rd round stoppage of Anthony Hanshaw, was carried on Showtime Extreme, a glimpse of what his handlers hope are great things to come.
Can an aged titlist fend off a determined young challenger? Will a changing of the guard take place? Most important to the fans, can their pre-fight banter translate into heated and sustained action on a frigid night in Brooklyn?
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes tonight’s super middleweight action will play out.
PREDICTIONS – SAKIO BIKA vs. ANTHONY DIRRELL
“My Spider-Man senses tell me that Bika needs a knockout in order to escape with a draw tonight. As long as the fight goes 12, Dirrell will leave as champ. Whether or not he actually deserves the win and the belt will be wide open for debate, with scores all over the place among judges and viewers.”
- Jake Donovan (Dirrell SD)
“Bika represents the biggest challenge for the unbeaten 29-year old, but Dirrell appears mentally and physically ready to make the big-stage transition.”
- Lyle Fitzsimmons (Dirrell by decision)
“Dirrell will take over this fight in the early rounds, hurting Bika with all sorts of shots. Bika is tough, so he will probably clutch and survive his way to a lenghty beating that crowns a new champ.”
- Richard Najdowski (Dirrell UD)
“Bika is ready for top challenges. Experience is the key. Bika should impose his will before round 10 to win by TKO.”
- Reynaldo Sanchez (Bika TKO10)
“Dirrell can punch and box a bit, but he is no way as proven as the Australian master. Bika will slowly outslug him and stop in later rounds.
- Alexey Sukachev (Bika TKO10)
Anthony Dirrell 3
Sakio Bika 2
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBoxTags: Anthony Dirrell , Sakio Bika