By Tom Donelson (BWAA)
Member Boxing Writers Association of America
James DeGale and Andre Dirrell fought for the vacant IBF Super Middleweight title as part of the Premier Boxing Championship Memorial day special. For Dirrell, this was a second shot at a title when he failed by a split decision to take Carl Froch’s title in the Super Six tournament. Dirrell has been out of the public eye since he was injured when Arthur Abraham nailed him with an illegal punch that caused Abraham’s disqualification. Meanwhile, Andre brother, Anthony, recovered from cancer, won a title and lost it. While Andre Dirrell has won five straight fights, this was the bite at the apple since the Super Six tournament.
DeGale, a former gold medalist, was seeking his first title but the first round saw Dirrell using his jab to dominate the action. In the second round, DeGale sent Dirrell sprawling along the canvas twice but Dirrell survived the round. Throughout the next three rounds, DeGale used his boxing skills to land power shots on Dirrell and appeared to take control of the fight.
Starting in the sixth round, Dirrell used his boxing skills to get back into the fight. DeGale slowed down as Dirrell pushed the action through the tenth round. DeGale found new reserves as he won the eleventh round to stop Dirrell’s momentum and he outlasted Dirrell’s in the final stanza. DeGale was rewarded a decision with two 114-112 and one 117-109 decision which did not reflect what happened in the ring.
I had it 114-112 myself and both fighters showed skills throughout the bout in a fight that was entertaining. The two knockdowns in the second round proved to be the decisive round as the rest of the bout was both competitive and close.
Edwin Rodriguez dominated the undefeated Craig Baker but the bout was stopped too early as while Rodriguez trapped Baker on the rope in the third round and landed some big shots but Baker was never in trouble and certainly still had some fight left. However, Rodriguez was the better fighter and there was nothing in the first 8 minutes of the bout that would indicate that Baker was going to beat Rodriguez but he should have been given a better shot.
As for Premier Boxing Championship series, another excellent boxing card was provided to the public and if nothing else, Al Haymon is teaching the rest of the boxing world the secret to boxing promotion is put on good fights. A simple concept that works.