By Lee Payton
Along with Jermain Taylor vs Arthur Abraham, the Froch vs Dirrelll bout will be shown live on PPV in the UK. Click here for more info.
Photo © Justin McKie
When a fighter steps up for the first time it's natural to be skeptical. Many of boxing's greatest were initially questioned by cynical fans and media because they were relatively untested heading into showdowns with more seasoned performers. That's the story surrounding Andre Dirrell as he prepares to take on Carl Froch this Saturday, in the first round of "The Super Six" World Boxing Classic, hosted by Showtime.
It's always tempting to think a man can't do something until he shows you he can, but in this case it's what I have seen that makes me think the young pug is in for a methodical and thorough beating.
The first thing Dirrell backers point out is his advantage in overall speed, which is supposed to enable him to box circles around his slower opponent. He is definitely a quick fighter, but being fast is not a skill. Skill is utilizing that speed in such a way that you "hit and don't get hit". While he is loaded with physical gifts I think he's a little light on professional know-how.
Much of what "The Matrix" does in the ring will never be found in a book of boxing basics. For instance, he has a tendency to pull straight back with his chin up in the air and he switches up stances just because he can. This man flips between orthodox and southpaw more than any fighter I have ever seen. It's his favourite defensive maneuver. The purist in me scowls. I'm not convinced there is much thought behind it. Seems more like athletic arrogance covering up some confusion or indecisiveness.
So far, so good I guess, but if you look hard enough you might be able to pick out a few instances where his chin looked a little less than sturdy. Watching him get touched up a bit, it's almost like he doesn't expect to get hit. This is the hurt business. A fighter has got to expect and accept contact, as well as pain.
Beyond the flaws I've mentioned, I think the style match-up is a difficult one. Most of Dirrell's opponents to date have been shorter guys who came to him with little power. We don't really know how he's going to handle a tall, rangy, awkward fighter who can swat.
I love it when these flashy youngsters meet up with hard asses who are sure to push them. It's how the tough questions are answered.
On Saturday night we're going to witness one man's introduction to something totally new. How will he react when he gets nailed and a crowd of 8000 are screaming for more? What's plan B, if necessary? Does he have the maturity to close the show if he has his man on the brink? And finally, can Dirrell handle not being the boss in there?
These are all questions Froch has answered. We know what he's about. If there is any give in the guy standing across from him, you can bet he'll find a way to exploit it in a violent way.
Give me Carl Froch to win by scrappy, but clear decision. I can't shake the feeling that things are going to become a little too rough for the kid.
If Andre Dirrell is going to win this fight, I think it's got to be done with a homerun swing. Given his lack of real kayo power and the veteran's durability, that appears to be a long shot, but almost anything can happen in this cruel sport.
Maybe he really does have the guts and grit to pull off the upset and just hasn't had to bite down hard yet. Either way, the truth will be revealed in the ring. Will the youngster be ground to dust by the immense pressure of the big stage, or will he thrive under the hot lights?
What do you think?
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Friday, October 16, 2009
By Lee Payton