Carl Froch gets a (Hometown?) Split Decision over Andre Dirrell
By Gabriel Montoya, MaxBoxing (Oct 18, 2009) Article provided by MaxBoxing (Photo © German Villasenor)  
At the Trent FM Arena in Nottingham, England, hometown favorite and WBC super middleweight titleholder Carl “The Cobra” Froch (26-0 with 20 KOs) held off a game Andre ‘the Matrix” Dirrell (18-1 with 13 KOs) over twelve rough and tumble rounds to score 2 points in the Super Six Super Middle Weight World Boxing Classic and a split decision by scores of 113-114, 115-112 twice. It was an interesting match-up of styles with Dirrell the speedy switch-hitting boxer and Froch the awkward and slower brawler. With two undefeated fighters facing off, someone’s “0” had to go but there is a question if the right “0” went.

It was a raucous crowd in England as Dirrell entered wearing Army green and waving the American flag with a big smile on his face looking as confident as ever. The roof blew off the place as the champion Froch entered wearing a black robe and a game face to the strains of “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns n Roses.

The action began as expected with Dirrell picking and pecking away with the jab and straight right hand while the slower Froch gauged his speed and tried to get his jab involved. It was a chess match early with Froch closing the distance slowly and Dirrell throwing one or two shots at a time and then moving away. Dirrell switched to southpaw late in the round and Froch tried to take advantage knowing Dirrell is vulnerable to right hands when he does so but he missed wildly.

While both men were tentative early on, Dirrell seemed to be slowly warming up as he let his hands go more in combination. Lead lefts, jabs, and hooks from either side as Froch waited and waited and occasionally got in a jab or glancing right hand. Froch did have a solid third round as he cut off the ring and began to land to his jab and right hand with more frequency.

As was the case in Germany today during the Arthur Abraham/Jermain Taylor Super Six showdown, the referee was going to be a factor as both men tied up early and often. Froch seemed to be getting more and more frustrated by both Dirrell’s unwillingness to stand and trade and his own inability to do anything about it. Froch blatantly broke the rules by hitting Dirrell as the ref broke them from a clinch. In the fifth, Froch grabbed Dirrell during a clinch and gave him a hip toss onto his back. But still, the ref warned both fighters (Dirrell for leaning on the neck of Froch during clinches) but failed to penalize Froch for the more serious infractions while taking a point from Dirrell late in the tenth for holding.

The fight began to heat up in the sixth as the rough and tumble nature of Froch’s approach unraveled Dirrell a bit as he got off game plan and began to exchange more and more with Froch which was not to his advantage. But still, he landed his jab consistently, got off with hard hooks, and generally fought when and where he wanted to.

But in the seventh and eighth, Froch began to come on. The fight began to go to close quarters and Froch took advantage of both the proximity and the fracturing focus of Dirrell who spent as much time fighting as he did complaining to the ref. For his troubles he ate several flush shots. Dirrell’s legs began to look a little shaky and the steam was coming off his punches as Froch got closer and closer and landed more and more. Time and again, Dirrell backed to the ropes but Froch never seemed to cash in on the opportunity with more a shot at a time. Even still, with Dirrell looking worse for wear the table was set for another come from behind victory for Froch.

But Dirrell showed what he was made down the stretch as he steeled himself and began to fight very effectively. Lead lefts, hard hooks, and the jab kept Froch off balance and seemingly out of the fight on the cards. The fight got downright hot down the stretch as Froch got more aggressive and bored in for a late KO of the seemingly wilting Dirrell. But ‘The Matrix’ was having none of it and fought back strong ripping Froch with hard left hooks and lead crosses. While it may have been dangerous for a fighter to go off game plan like that it made for exciting championship rounds and showed a dimension few knew Dirrell had. Many questioned if he truly belonged in a tournament like this but Dirrell more than answered the call. Both men fought hard down the stretch but on this scorecard it was Dirrell who dictated pace and geography while landing the crisper, cleaner blows. The judges saw it differently with scores of 114-113 for Dirrell and 115-112 twice for Froch.

"I thought I held him off enough, boxed him enough to get a decision," a frustrated but proud Dirrell said afterward. "We know where we're at, but I'm going to hold my head with pride. I still don't know why he took the point from me. I'm still clueless on the point for leaning on him. He'd been holding me and hitting me in the back of the head the whole time. Bringing me down on one knee. He'd been rough the whole fight. This will only make me work harder. The most dangerous fighters are the ones that have had their first loss.”

"I definitely felt I won the fight," Froch said who seemed to barely give credit to Dirrell for a tough fight. "He didn't want to stand and fight. The minute I got close quarters and tried to rough him up and make him fight a bit, the fight which I want to be involved in, he either jumped on the floor, got shoved on the floor, complained to the referee, held on, every excuse in the book. So what am I supposed to do? If you're not going to stand and fight like a man, like a warrior, then all I can do is take what's there."

With the win, Froch gets two points under the rules of the Super Six and moves on to fight Mikkel Kessler later next year. Dirrell’s road doesn’t get any easier as he gets Arthur Abraham in the next stage.

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