A Glitch in the Matrix: Dramatic Wins for Dirrell, Guzman and Maidana
By John G. Thompson - Despite the unfortunate cancellation of the excellent ESPN2 Friday Night Fights matchup between cruiserweights Steve “USS” Cunningham and Matt Godfrey, this past weekend produced some high drama and great fights on both HBO and Showtime. Most notably Arthur Abraham’s eleventh round disqualification loss to Andre Dirrell in the second stage of the Showtime Super Six Tournament produced one of the most dramatic endings to a major bout in recent memory. Also, Joan Guzman upset the pundits by defeating Ali Funeka in a rematch of their controversial draw, and Marcos Rene Maidana proved again that he’s one of the toughest light welterweights in the world, stopping previously undefeated Victor Cayo in the sixth round. Many in the boxing community felt that Dirrell, Guzman and Maidana were the underdogs going into the weekend, and so their respective victories seem all the more sensational.
Article posted on 31.03.2010
Andre “The Matrix” Dirrell 19-1 (13 KO’s) used his Neo-like speed to outwork the dangerous and then undefeated “King” Arthur Abraham 31-1 (25 KO’s). Widely believed to be the long-shot in the Super Six Tournament, being the youngest and least experienced fighter (professionally) in the group, Dirrell was facing the point leader of the tournament, an undefeated middleweight champion, and one of the favorites to win the tournament. Dirrell came out focused, throwing numerous combinations from outside the range of Abraham and carefully moving away before Abraham could counter.. While many of Dirrell’s punches were absorbed by the tight defense of Abraham, many shots got through, evident by the cut over Abraham’s eye and the swelling on his cheeks. The Michigan native even managed to knock down the iron chinned Armenian for the first time in Abraham’s career in the fourth round, though this was mostly due to Abraham being off balance. In the later rounds Dirrell’s lead was so great that Abraham was forced to chase him around the ring with no alternative other than to go for the knockout.
If there was any criticism of Dirrell’s performance, it was picked up on by ringside commentator and former light heavyweight champion Antonio Tarver who noted that when Dirrell moved to avoid punches, he often left his head in the air with no guard up. Fortunately for Dirrell, he proved too fast for Abraham to be able to reach that head – that is until the eleventh round when Dirrell slipped in a puddle. Referee Laurence Cole had noticed water on the canvas in this location earlier in the fight and requested that it be cleaned. After Dirrell slipped and went to his knees, with his hands down, Abraham let loose a hard right which connected flush to the head of Dirrell. In a slightly delayed reaction, Dirrell sunk over half unconscious, his leg twitching eerily, and was unable to continue. Abraham was disqualified, and rightfully so.
To the surprise of this writer, many fans on the boxing message boards are claiming that Andre Dirrell faked the injury in order to win the fight. This is utter nonsense and seems unnecessarily insulting to a fighter who put on the performance of his lifetime. Dirrell was well ahead on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage, in firm control, and in no danger of losing the fight on points in his hometown. Also, during the post fight interview, Dirrell (in tears) clearly believed he lost the fight by knockout, despite his entire entourage trying to tell him differently. The only unreal thing about this ending was that Dirrell was made to do an interview instead of immediately being rushed to the nearest emergency room. Clearly the promoters and organizers of the event at Joe Louis Arena were appallingly unprepared for such a contingency. Andre Dirrell is out of the hospital now with no apparent permanent damage; however, this was certainly not the way he wanted to win in front of his hometown crowd in Detroit.
Ali Funeka’s birthday plans were upset (Funeka turned 32 the day after the fight) by Joan Guzman, who remained undefeated despite giving up a six inch height and five inch reach advantage. Of course Guzman did come up with an advantage of his own coming into the match nine pounds overweight. This was the second bout between the two for the vacant IBF Lightweight Title, and it still goes unclaimed since the first fight ended in a draw and the winner of the second could not make the lightweight limit. A rubber match might be in order, though it seems unlikely that Guzman would be able to make weight, and seems less likely that the fans are dying to watch it.
The first fight between the two was a lot closer than many fans might remember (some probably paid too much attention to ringside commentators who are often too busy talking to accurately judge the fight), never-the-less Funeka did appear to have earned the victory despite the judges’ majority draw. It almost seemed a foregone conclusion that Funeka would pick up where he left off and possibly even stop Guzman in a rematch; however, it was Guzman who learned from the first fight and put Funeka’s lack of precision punching and absence of defense on display as the cocky Guzman bobbed, weaved and countered the entire fight, knocking Funeka down in the sixth round, and earning a split decision victory.
Marcos Rene Maidana 28-1 (27 KO’s) continues to grow in popularity as the rugged Argentinean keeps racking up the knockouts, this time against previously undefeated Victor Cayo. Calling Maidana an underdog might be a stretch, however, this made for an intriguing boxer vs. puncher match up where many favored the boxer to win. Cayo looked decent early in the bout, peppering Maidana with extremely fast combinations to the head, though it became clear that Cayo did not have the power to hurt Maidana, whereas Maidana did have the power to keep Cayo moving backwards. Maidana dropped Cayo with a punch a little after the bell had rung to end the second round. In fact, the boxing community came dangerously close to having a second fight ended by controversial disqualification. Veteran referee Joe Cortez started the count, justifiably ruling that the timing of the punch had been close enough. Thankfully Cayo got up to put an end to any possible controversy. Maidana continued to back up the skilled Cayo in the rounds to follow, landing the more meaningful shots, and putting him down in the sixth with a fantastic uppercut to the body from which Cayo could not recover.
Marcos Maidana has now fought for and won the Interim WBA World Light Welterweight Title three times, which begs the question why he is still just the “Interim” WBA champion? Amir Kahn is listed as the WBA World Light Welterweight Champion, which begs the bigger question how the WBA can have both a World Champion and an Interim World Champion at the same time? If boxing politics could be put aside, Maidana should face the winner of the upcoming Amir Kahn vs. Paulie Malignaggi fight, and the winner of that fight should be in line for a shot at the real light welterweight champion – Timothy Bradley. Of course with his sensational knockout win over the iron chinned Juan Urango earlier this month, undefeated Devon Alexander is right up in the mix and according to various sources actually calling for a fight with Maidana. Regardless, with only one loss (and that being a very close split decision) Maidana, with his incredibly high KO percentage, is emerging as a great prospect in a talented division.
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