Sunday, October 18, 2009

Froch Decisions Dirrell, Abraham Trumps Taylor

Jeff Pryor gives his thoughts on last night's Super Six opening round matches.

Photo © Justin McKie

So, the first night of the Super Six has come and gone and, well... it was a bit of a disappointing night to be honest.

Maybe expectations were too high, but I thought Arthur Abraham's last second KO hid some of the deficiencies of his performance, and his lack of punching clearly isn't and never was, from struggling to make weight. He just doesn't punch much. And even with that extremely low output performance he was huffing and puffing at the end.

I've been a big admirer of his for a long time, but he clearly showed some of his limitations. In retrospect I think Pavlik would have cruised against him at 160. Barring a bolt of lightning connection like that which felled Taylor in the waning moments, I believe Pavlik would have buried Arthur in a sea of one-two combinations and kept him largely at bay with his superior length and output.

Perhaps Abraham can learn something from the straight right that ultimately won him the fight. Those wide sweeping hooks that come from his hip are eye catching, but they seldom are effective. In this case, that bomb straight down the middle was something Jermain hadn't seen all night, and the surprise of it made it so effective. Arthur would be wise to mix those change up piston power shots into his usual repertoire.

He also showed that his body to head combination attack is what can really set him apart if he'd only employ it more often. Ripping shots to the ribs and then bringing a flurry right to the head is something he does with fury and success. He needs to do it until it doesn't work.

But you can't change your stripes... It was a heartbreaker for Taylor who should have been throwing his right hand a lot more, he had a real chance in this one, but I hope he seriously thinks about bowing out of the tournament and retiring. His health has to come first.

For what it's worth, I didn't think the fight was as clear cut in Abraham's favor as the announcing team on Showtime seemed to think it was. Taylor did some good work and much of Abraham's bombastic explosions of offense were wild and slipshod.

The tantalizing nugget remains; if you can stand up to Abraham's punch for twelve rounds and punch at an average, effective, pace you should be able to outpoint him. So far no one's done it. A few more of these talented men will have there chance in the coming months.

On to fight two... Dirrell has some fold in him. All kinds of speed and potential, but he was getting rattled.

I don't blame Froch for the rabbit punching; his hands were free because he wasn't the one holding on. Dirrell was putting himself in positions that presented the back of his head as a prime target. The fact is, how many times did Froch hit Dirrell in the back of the head when he wasn't holding on, or ducking and putting his head down in front of Froch. None. The illegal blows were a direct result of Dirrell's actions.

As a broad example of this principle; if a fighter were to turn his back every time his opponent came near, and the opponent clocked him in the back of the head. Who's at fault?

The instruction to protect yourself at all times is there for a reason and if you are putting yourself in a compromised position, should the other fighter be penalized for it? If this were allowed then why not always keep your back to your man until you whirl around and smack him, then quickly turn your back again.

Holding excessively, turning ones back or bending over in front of an opponent should not be a "Get Out of Jail Free" card or in this case a "You Can't Punch Me Right Now" card.

Another example, and this is one where, in my opinion, Dirrell was even more blatantly at fault, is that when a fighter starts easily going to the mat in a clinch or in some cases, willingly sticks his head under an opponent's arm and goes down unaided as Dirrell did... at what point does that become taking a knee?

Clearly the reason for such a maneuver is to avoid any punishment after committing a tactical error that has put you in a bad position. It's a fine line between accidentally getting your head stuck under an arm, and putting your head there for a little "No mas" break.

The good news for Dirrell is that towards the end of the fight, he showed real fighting spirit. Maybe that was brought on by the point deduction for holding and he felt he couldn't risk anymore, but whatever the reason, he showed he can fight like an honest to God fighter, and not look for protection in the ring.

Regardless of his, at times, lack of willingness to fight, I think Dirrell was able to prove he has the abilities to fight at this level of the sport. His surface level mental fragility, seems tempered by a back-against-the-wall steeliness in him. If he truly starts to believe in himself, watch out.

As for the scoring, I thought it was a close fight. Draw or narrow either way seemed reasonable to me. And I thought the point deduction for excessive holding was appropriate, though maybe not at that particular moment. (BTW I thought the low blow call on Taylor in the earlier fight, could have used a little more simmer time. None of those blows were particularly devastating or apparently intentional. I felt a few of Abraham's were going low too, and no warning was ever delivered.)

So with four of the super six having seen action now, these summations are what I come away with:

1. Abraham's power has held at 168 and his puzzling, though flawed, style will be a tight rope walk for everyone until the final bell.

2. Jermain Taylor has taken a lot of punishment at the hands of some of the sports premiere punchers over the last two years. It may be time to walk away, tournament be damned.

3. Dirrell is fast. Powerful. Dynamic. He doesn't believe it.

4. Froch is a fighter. He will make you not want to be a fighter.

For this spectator the night offered few answers and more questions...

The Super Six is still wide open.


garth2 said...

Dirrell may need a new camp to convince him he can use what he's got.

Andy said...

Agreed. Dirrell doesn't seem to be aware of what he's capable of. If he would have stood his ground more and let fly, he might have done something big tonight.

Anonymous said...

Agreed with both above comments. His uncle and granfather just arent good enough.

Imagine what Emanuel Steward or Freddie Roach could do with this guy.

Anonymous said...

I never thought about Abraham not having power because of his low workrate, but that makes sense. I've never seen a guy more content with not mixing offense with defense so how he overwhelms fighters is beyond me. He has yet to be beat though so something works. Why couldn't Taylor see everytime Aurthur was going to begin his offense and evade, tie-up, get under or do something other than put his guard up? Also, Jermain just could have stuck his jab out there because Aurthur doesn't seem to like counterpunching. It's easier said than done though, so I am not knocking JT. I just hope he leaves the game in good health because he is a good guy that probably just didn't meet the expectations placed upon him.

I personally thought Dirrell won the fight. He fought the only fight in which he was going to beat Froch. How he did it wasn't the prettiest, but he landed cleaner and more often than his opponent did at the end of the night. It would be foolish for any Super MW to stand and trade with Froch. I judge a fight on who took more punishment that night and it was not Dirrell IMO. Not giving Dirrell the nod is similar to punishing a football team for running the whole game if the opponent can't defend against the run but is great against the pass.

LatinoPorVida said...

Yes it was not a pretty fight however I also thought Dirrell should have won.

Froch missed a lot I guess what got him the win was not only by fighting in his hometown but also by trying to press the action.

I must say I was not happy with Dirrell running around having said that Dirrell did counter punch nicely.

I was actually surpised at the end of the fight as it was announced and still WBC supermiddle weight champion Carl "The Cobra" Froch.

My final score card was 116-112 in favor of Andre Dirrell.