Dirrell/Abraham - Keys to Victory, 4 to Explore, Final Prediction
By Vivek Wallace: This Saturday night, fight fans around the globe will get the opportunity to see a very intriguing showdown when American Andre Dirrell takes on German based powerhouse, Arthur Abraham. The sports favorite adage reminds us that "styles make fights", and the blend of styles in this one make it very difficult to peg a winner. One man brings a bevy of skills in his arsenal that all start with blazing speed, yet he remains somewhat untested on this level. The other is more basic, containing little flash, but great power and stronger boxing skills than many seem to give credit for. In an effort to look at the chances of each man, we start with their "Keys to Victory":
ARTHUR ABRAHAM: KEYS TO VICTORY
For Arthur Abraham, the keys to victory in this fight come down to defense and dominance. Abraham's defense is among the best in the game, but against a methodical and somewhat predictable Jermain Taylor, he actually trailed on the cards mid-way through the fight before his opponent began to wear down. Abraham must realize that although he isn't a SLOW fighter by any stretch, the man he'll be standing across from will be much faster than both he, and the last man who held that mid-round lead against him a fight ago (Taylor). Adding to this truth is the fact that Dirrell also has a much greater reach than he does. A smart strategy for Abraham would be to pick his spots wisely, knowing when to go into that defensive shell (preventing too many points from clean shots) and when it's safe to open up and let his hands fly.. Dirrell uses his arm length very well, and will try to keep Abraham at a distance by using his jab and footwork. Abraham will have to counter-punch effectively and make the most of those shots that he does land early to capitalize on the still somewhat questionable conditioning of Dirrell. If Abraham can execute good defense, counter-punch well, and land effective powershots, he can win this fight, maybe even by late stoppage.
ANDRE DIRRELL: KEYS TO VICTORY
For Andre Dirrell, keys to victory all center around three things. Footwork, conditioning, and his mental mindset. His skills are greatly underrated based on a certain level of anonymity around the sport, but the most intriguing element here for him is that he's coming off of his first pro lost and he'll have to do it against a man far more dangerous and powerful than he's ever seen. Footwork will be important, because Abraham won't be easily befuddled at the hands of his jab. Abraham will probably use that shell defense to block the shots while coming forward in a deadly pursuit. Dirrell has shown signs of poor conditioning down the stretch of several fights in his relatively young career. Abraham is a head-hunter at all times, so if Dirrell starts to wear down, he can meet the same fate as Taylor. Relative to his mindset, there's a lot of pressure on a young fighter coming off of a lost. Returning from a lost in front of family and friends will undoubtedly add even more pressure. His ability to respond to this pressure when met with inevitable adversity will be critical. If Dirrell can use good footwork to setup his offense and evade that of Abraham's, stay fresh through the late rounds and not let the pressure get to him, his chances to win get very strong.
FOUR TO EXPLORE
Nothin' Like Experience: Arthur Abraham enters the ring with better than 30 fights, while this fight for Dirrell will only mark his 20th in the sport. Beyond this major notable comes the fact that throughout his entire career, Abraham has only fought 13 men with fewer career victories (than Dirrell), the most recent being 2005 - which was a whopping 5 years ago. Abraham has tested his ability against very seasoned veterans and has seen it all. Well, except a speedy southpaw with this many skills and a great 'pop'! Can Dirrell's southpaw jinx outweigh his experience?
Inches or Feet?: Andre Dirrell has stated publicly that Abraham will have problems with him because "his arms are too short". While Dirrell does have a 3 inch reach advantage over him, apparently he doesn't remember that power punching Colombian Edison Miranda held a 5 inch reach advantage over him as well, and in the end it did nothing to prevent the inevitable. Dirrell seems more compelled to make this a battle of inches, but this reality proves that maybe he should worry more about his FEET, and use them wisely. Will he? That's the operative question.
No Place Like Home: So far in this Super-6 Tournament, we have yet to see a fighter lose on their home turf, with Froch, Ward, and Abraham all claiming victory in front of their locals. That logic would point to a Dirrell victory, but the 'kicker' here is that Dirrell will also be against the only man who was able to take things into his own hands....literally, by scoring a knockout, preventing him from needing local judges one way or the other. Can Dirrell keep this trend going, or will it be broken?
'Critically Conditioned': Dirrell's late fight reputation has began to precede him, as it relates to conditioning, (or a lack thereof). So far, he has been able to use great skills to cover it up, but someone like Abraham has all the tools necessary to expose whatever flaws truly exist. Abraham fights at a measured, yet aggressive pace. Can Dirrell keep himself fresh down the stretch? Anything less could be an utter mess!
OFFICIAL PREDICTION/UPSET BAROMETER (RATING 1 - 5)
This fight is a very tough one to call. Experience, power, and defense all go to Abraham, but Dirrell is a former Olympic Bronze medalist who boast an an amateur record with well over 200 victories to only a few losses, so you have to consider him a legitimate threat. All things remaining equal, this fight will come down to the distance. And not as to say it will go the distance, but whether or not it does is what will dictate the winner of the fight itself. If the fight is stopped early, Abraham will unquestionably be the one to cause the stoppage, as he is both very durable and powerful. If it goes the distance, Dirrell's boxing ability will have gotten him there, which means that he stands a much better chance of winning. In the end, I see a badly fatigued Dirrell being stopped somewhere after the 11th round. The upset barometer peaks at a 4 of 5 rating, as Dirrell is surely talented enough to outpoint him, but not quite tested enough to handle the salty veteran.
ABRAHAM TKO RD 11 (UPSET BAROMETER: 4 OF 5)
(OTHER ACTION: Funeka via decision over Guzman, Maidana late stoppage over Cayo)
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7436, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEK747), Facebook and Myspace)
Article posted on 26.03.2010