Coming into this bout, Andre Dirrell, age 28, (20-1, 14 KOs), returns to the ring from a two year hiatus, the last brawl against the then undefeated Arthur Abraham, 31, (32-3, 26 KOs). Dirrell put on the best performance of his career through ten rounds, and was then fouled brutally by Abraham, thus giving him the disqualification victory in the eleventh round. Despite Dirrell not getting the ending he wanted, he was way ahead on the judges scorecards at the time of the disqualification. So appearing on Showtime’s “Shobox,” Dirrell was coming up against a big underdog in the 37 year old, Darryl Cunningham (24-3, 10 KOs). Dirrell was expected to put Cunningham away, and he did just that. What was impressive is how quick and virtuous the performance was. Dirrell, typically a switch hitter, didn’t switch out of the southpaw stance once; he didn’t need to. Dirrell stuck the right jab through much of the action to the head and body of Cunningham, as Dirrell felt Cunningham out. Then, midway through the second round, Dirrell connected with a good, straight left hand set up by a right, which buckled Cunningham. Cunningham then tried to hold on, and after clinching Dirrell for a few seconds, was nailed and sent to the canvas by another high velocity straight left hand. Despite the towel coming in the ring via the corner of Cunningham, referee Jack Reiss refused to have the bout halted. In a somewhat bizarre scene, the referee appeared very upset, with the corner of Cunningham and for some reason, Andre Dirrell. This would be no matter as Dirrell would land another two blows to successfully stop Cunningham seconds later. This time, the bout was stopped for good, and officially scored as Technical Knockout in the second round for Andre Dirrell.
Dirrell couldn’t possibly have fought a better fight, as he scored the TKO as soon as he opened up in the second, and never caught a punch himself in the short time he was in the ring. What looms on the horizon for Dirrell could be the biggest fights the Super Middleweight division can offer: a showdown with the undefeated IBF World Champion, Lucian Bute, 31, (30-0, 24 KOs) a rematch with Carl Froch, 34, (28-2, 20 KOs) who controversially upended Dirrell in October of 2009 for the only loss of Dirrell’s career, or just any of the top flight fighters the division has to offer as Dirrell stated to BRB.
The former Undisputed Middleweight Champion of the World, Jermain Taylor, age 33, (29-4-1, 18 KOs) was looking to return to the ring, dropping back down to the Middleweight division to resume his career for the first time there since 2007, and to have success against a fighter of lower stature of competition in Jessie Nicklow, 24, (22-3-3, 8 KOs). Taylor showed flashes of his old self through eight one-sided rounds before referee Ray Corona, to the dismay of the crowd on hand at the Morongo Hotel and Casino, halted the bout. Some felt the stoppage was early, but BRB disagrees. Could Nicklow continue to fight? Yes. Did he have a chance at winning? No. So, what would be the point in a fighter taking unnecessary punishment? Taylor’s jab looked similar to old form, as he stuck three or four jabs at a time repeatedly to the nose of Nicklow and busted it up. Along with the strong jabs, Taylor also showcased some very good body work. Taylor apparently hurt his right hand a bit, and because of his discomfort he didn’t throw the right hand with as much frequency as it seemed he was capable of. Nicklow was very game, but his defense was subpar, and Taylor was landing at too high a rate each round. Nicklow, to his credit, did seem fully able to still compete, and showed a sincere desire to keep doing so.
For the victor, Jermain Taylor, this victory changes the trend Taylor had suffered as of late: Kayo losses to Froch, Abraham, and Pavlik. BRB would have to agree in entirety to Showtime’s Boxing analyst, and former Light Heavyweight Champion, Antonio Tarver’s sentiments in which the former Champion stated something along the lines that Taylor should be in no rush at all to mix it up with the cream of the crop in the Middleweight division. Rather than hastily jumping into the ring with the likes of Sergio Martinez, Tarver advised that he didn’t become undisputed Middleweight Champion of the World overnight, and that Taylor wouldn’t return to the status he once held overnight either. In sum and substance, a lot of boxing’s finest minds, Tarver obviously included, believe that Taylor should continue to take “tune up” bouts until he feels his capabilities are optimized to their fullest potential once again. At that point, it could be quite interesting to see if the former Undisputed Middleweight Champion could work his way to that status once more.
- Former Undisputed Middleweight Champion of the World, Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor poses for a few ring side photos for the media on hand after his eight round stoppage over Jessie Nicklow.