By Rick Reeno
The controversy continues over Saturday night's fight between super middleweights Andre Dirrell and Arthur Abraham. An electric crowd at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan, saw Dirrell outbox Abraham for the first nine rounds of the fight. In the final minute of the tenth round, the tide began to change as Abraham applied extreme pressure and began to consistently find Dirrell with punches.
During the eleventh round, Dirrell was starting to fade and Abraham was rapidly coming on. To his credit, Dirrell, who was well ahead on the scorecards, executed a veteran move by coasting to kill the clock. While trying to fend off an incoming Abraham, Dirrell lost his balance and slipped to the mat. During the heat of the moment, and probably with some desperation mixed in, Abraham clocked Dirrell right on the chin while he was down. After the punch connected, Dirrell fell flat on the mat. He laid there unconscious, and then his body started shaking - and referee Laurence Cole had to immediately request the assistance of the ringside physicians.
Abraham suffered his first career loss when Cole disqualified him for the late hit. In his post fight interview, Abraham called Dirrell "an actor." He believes Dirrell oversold the punch. Abraham's promoter, Wilfried Sauerland, agreed with his fighter by saying "Dirrell is a very good actor. He deserves an Oscar for his performance."
Dirrell's promoter, Gary Shaw, praised the referee for making the right call.
"The foul was intentional. It was a desperation move. He knew the only way he could win the fight was with a knockout. He knew Andre was on the ground and he lined him up," Shaw said to BoxingScene.com.
To get a third-party opinion on the incident, BoxingScene spoke with another Super Six participant, Allan Green, who watched the fight live from a ringside position. Green believes Dirrell may have oversold the effect of Abraham's final punch and probably could have continued in the fight if the referee had given him a few minutes to recover. Green was very curious to find out if Dirrell was able to withstand Abraham's late rally for another four minutes.
"I really couldn't see some some of it. I saw the little punch. I did think he put on a bit of an act, and I like Dirrell. I think he could have continued the fight or he could have taken five minutes. At the time [of the incident] it wasn't looking good for him. The last four minutes would have been interesting to see. I thought Dirrell could have continued and kept fighting. He laid there for a second and everything was fine and then he started shaking. Then he got up and said he was knocked out and didn't know what happened. If you didn't know what happened, then how can you say you got knocked out," Green told BoxingScene.com. [ Editor's Note : Green wants to clarify that he does not believe Dirrell was faking the effects of Abraham's punch. Green believes Dirrell was realistically hurt from the punch, but he also believes Dirrell could have continued if he was given a five minute period to recover."
"If you get knocked down from a punch, and start shaking.....there is something really wrong. If you get hit like that, where you down and start shaking, you are going to be in the hospital for a few days and you are not fighting for a while. You are not going to get up and start walking around. I saw him get hit harder [than] that throughout the fight, but in his defense he was already hurt [at the time of the punch]. Dirrell was winning the fight and I wanted him to win. I just would have liked to see what would have happened in the last few rounds if he would have continued."
Green, like the Showtime announcers, disagreed with the referee's ruling on the tenth round knockdown. Late in the tenth, Abraham landed a very hard punch and Dirrell went down. The referee ruled it as a slip. Cole saw the punch land but felt Dirrell hit the deck after being off balance from a leg trip.
"If you go down after getting hit, it's a knockdown The punch was the cause. If he didn't take that punch, he probably wouldn't have gone down. He wasn't the same when he got up and he continued to get hit after that," Green said.
There are many people out there who agree, and disagree, with Green's opinions on the incident. One individual who disagrees is Green's own promoter, Lou DiBella.
DiBella is convinced Dirrell was genuinely knocked out by Abraham's shot, but he does agree with Green's opinion on the referee's mishap with the knockdown.
"I thought it was a terrible foul. He's supposed to be this tough guy but the guy [Abraham] is a constant whiner. He was whining the entire time about low blows and he causes them to be low and they aren't even low. Every time you hit him to the body he cries about a low blow. That being said, I did think he knocked Dirrell down in the tenth round of the fight and hurt him," DiBella told BoxingScene.com.
"He's just a dirty fighter. He's always been a dirty fighter. He's strong as an ox, but he's dirty. And I'll say this....if that was acting [by Dirrell], then it was one of the best performances that I've ever seen. He acted very much like a guy who fully didn't know where he was. If that was an acting job, he was sensational."
"He clearly hit him while he was down. That's a disqualification anywhere in the world, expect for Germany. If it happened in Germany, he would have got away with it and that's why the Germans [Sauerland Event] are so upset. [Abraham] also ignored the whoop-ass thrown on him for nine consecutive rounds. There was no way he could win that fight without a knockout. I'm not sure how hard he was concentrating to see if the guy was down, but he was doing everything in his power to knock the guy out and I think the outcome was the right decision. If Abraham wasn't so filthy, he had a chance to win the fight."