Is Andre Dirrell The Best Super Middleweight In Boxing?
by Chris Williams: Unbeaten super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell (18-0, 13 KOs) went a long ways towards proving that he’s one of the top fighters in the division – if not already the best – when he destroyed Derrick Findley in a 6th round stoppage on Saturday night at the Buffalo Run Casino, in Miami, Oklahoma. Dirrell, 24, a 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist for the United States, literally toyed with his opponent Findley for six rounds until the fight was mercifully stopped in the 6th by Gary Ritter.
Dirrell showed speed, combinations and overall boxing skills not seen since Roy Jones Jr. was in his prime over 10 years ago. Though still largely unknown to most boxing fans, Dirrell, ranked number #1 in the World Boxing Organization (WBO), #3 in the World Boxing Council (WBC) and #7 in the International Boxing Federation (IBF), has quickly moved up the ranks after turning pro four years ago in 2004.
With blazing speed that no other super middleweights can match, Dirrell looks like a sure thing in capturing a title in 2009. With Dirrell’s number #1 ranking in the WBO, it won’t be long before he gets a title shot against champion Karoly Balzsay. I don’t expect Balzsay to be able to hang with Dirrell for long and I expect Dirrell to easily knockout the German based Balzsay inside the distance.
Below, I’ve ranked the current super middleweights in order of their ability, and I’ve given my view of how Dirrell would do against them. If Joe Calzaghe were still fighting now, I’d place him at number #3 behind Ward and Dirrell. Both of those fighters would have too much power and speed for Calzaghe, I believe, and would knock him out. It’s a good thing retired.
#1.) Andre Ward: Ranked number #2 in the WBC and WBO, Ward, 25, a 2004 light heavyweight Olympic Gold Medalist for the United States, has looked nothing short of superb since turning pro in 2004. With excellent hand speed and good power, the southpaw Ward (18-0, 12 KOs) looks to be easily the 2nd best fighter in the division behind Dirrell. Better than Joe Calzaghe as well, Ward would give Dirrell a run for the money if and when the two fighters meet. However, doesn’t have quite the same speed as Dirrell, doesn’t throw punches from as many different angles as Dirrell does, and has a much less impressive work rate. Look for Dirrell to defeat him by a decision. I doubt Dirrell could knock him out, but he’d still beat him all the same.
#2.) Mikkel Kessler: The WBA super middleweight champion, Kessler (41-1, 31 KOs) has been skills than most of the other fighters in the division. However, he’s slow and won’t match up well with a fighter as fast as Dirrell. Kessler looked good in the first half of his fight with Joe Calzaghe in November 2007, but Kessler tired out in the last half of the fight and couldn’t handle Calzaghe’s speed. It would be much worse for Kessler against an even speedier fighter like Dirrell. Look for Dirrell to win this fight by a lopsided decision.
#3.) Carl Froch: The WBC super middleweight champion, Froch (24-0, 19 KOs) is clearly much too slow and limited to handle a fighter with the quickness of Dirrell. Pascal exposed Froch’s limitations in the first half of their fight in December 2008, but faded against Froch in the 2nd half of the bout. This wouldn’t happen with Dirrell, who would keep on punching effectively in the last six rounds and would likely knock Froch out.
#4.) Lucian Bute: The current IBF super middleweight title, Bute, 29, shouldn’t even be a champion at this point, because he was clearly knocked out by challenger Librado Andrade in October 2008, but was given extra time to recover by the referee after being flattened in the 12th by Andrade. Bute has nifty boxing skills, and decent power and speed. However, he’s nowhere nearly as fast as Dirrell, and his weak chin won’t likely hold up against Dirrell for more than six or seven rounds. Bute will likely run in this fight but it won’t help him.
#5.) Jermain Taylor: A former WBC/WBO middleweight champion, Taylor (28-2-1, 17 KOs) has a history of having problems with pressure fighters and doesn’t fight well past the 8th round due to stamina problems. Though Taylor would be able to almost match the speed of Dirrell early on, he doesn’t have Dirrell’s stamina or power. Look for Dirrell to win by knockout.
#6.) Jean Pascal: A good fighter with blinding speed, Pascal (21-1, 14 KOs) is a very difficult opponent due to his fast hands and power. However, as he showed against both Froch and Brian Norman, Pascal is more of a six round fighter than a 10 and 12 rounder, and has big issues with his stamina. Pascal also has a major problem with punching with his gloves open. Though it’s been talked about for years, Pascal seems unable to change his style and learn how to punch correctly. As such, I see Dirrell beating him badly, taking advantage of Pascal’s poor stamina by beating him down in the 2nd half of a fight between them.
#7.) Karoly Balzsay: the 29-year-old Balzsay, (20-0, 14 KOs) hasn’t done much in his career and has fought largely European fighter. Fighting in Germany, his new adopted country, Balzsay recently defeated Russian Denis Inkin by a 12-round decision in January 2009 to win the WBO super middleweight title. Given that Inkin was arguably the weakest of the super middleweight champions and probably should have been beaten by Fulgencio Zuniga, in their September 2008 bout, it doesn’t say much for Balzsay that he was able to beat Inkin.
I doubt that Balzsay’s German handlers are too eager for him to fight Dirrell, and will probably avoid it until it’s absolutely necessary. When that time comes, look for Dirrell to embarrass Balzsay in a one-sided contest, stopping him within six rounds. It’s important that Dirrell knocks Balzsay out because the fight will almost definitely take place in Germany where a Dirrell will find it hard to get a decision.
#8.) Allan Green: A good fighter with exception speed and decent power, Green (27-1, 19 KOs) hasn’t really fought anyone, and in the one occasion that he stepped it up by facing Edison Miranda, Green was timid, losing by a lopsided 10-round decision and getting knocked down twice by Miranda. Dirrell would no doubt knock Green out within six rounds. Green is an okay fighter but he needs to gradually start moving up against better fighters than what he’s been facing thus far in his seven year pro career.
#9.) Edison Miranda: easily the most powerful of the super middleweights, Miranda, 28, (32-3, 28 KOs) would be a dangerous threat to Dirrell, only because of Miranda’s one punch power. His only chance to win would be by catching Dirrell with a big shot and taking him out. I can’t see that happening, because of Miranda’s poor hand speed. More likely, Dirrell gives him a boxing lesson and knocks him out in three or four rounds.
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