CABAZON, CALIFORNIA — Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell returned from prolonged medical sabbaticals with dominant knockout wins last night (December 30) on a special Showtime tripleheader.
An early injury to his right hand caused Jermain Taylor (29-4-1, 18 KOs) to rely on his formidable jab and a newly found left hook to break down Jessie Nicklow (22-3-3, 8 KOs). The 33-year-old Taylor came out throwing heavy uppercuts and right hands. Nicklow tried to pressure, but found himself unable to get past Taylor’s long left jab. Outside of a glancing left hook in the third, Taylor retained complete control of the early rounds.
A Nicklow bloody nose by the fourth round was a testament to the effectiveness of Taylor’s jab. The former middleweight champion used it as a power punch and seemed reluctant to finish with right hands, hinting at the later confirmed injury. In the fifth, Taylor diversified his attack with left hooks downstairs which clearly bothered Nicklow. By the sixth, Taylor was tripling the left hook but lost a point for hitting after the bell.
After landing a big right at the end of the seventh, Taylor picked up his dominance in the eighth by backing up Nicklow with power shots. A Taylor right stunned Nicklow, and a follow-up left hook prompted a stoppage from referee Patrick Connolly. Nicklow protested vehemently and the crowd booed loudly.
Taylor explained he was anxious to get back in the ring to work off additional ring rust. Although not going into specifics, Taylor affirmed his desire for top competition in 2012.
“I’ll never run from nobody,” said Taylor. “We see that jab is back on…I’m ready for whoever!”
Andre Dirrell (20-1, 14 KOs) showcased his trademark speed but added devastating power in a quick dispatching of Darryl Cunningham (24-3, 10 KOs).
The smaller, 37-year-old Cunningham was kept at bay in the first round by Dirrell jabs and straight lefts to the body. In the second, Dirrell exploded with two fast lead straight lefts that badly hurt Cunningham. After holding and getting some extra time, Dirrell immediately dropped him with another straight left. Cunningham beat the count and tried to hold, but was dropped again by a short right hook inside despite more recovery time since Cunningham’s corner was indecisive after initially throwing in the towel. Cunningham made it to his feet again but was in no condition to continue.
Dirrell, now 28 after nearly two years out the ring, vowed to push hard to win a title in the upcoming year.
“2012 is mine, I promise you!” said Dirrell. “Everything I threw was with full confidence..I’d like to pick up my game 100%. It’s almost like starting over… If you’re ready for me,call me out or I’ll call you out…The window is short; I’m 28 years old and ready for that title.”
The card’s opening bout featured Cuban standout Luis Garcia (12-0, 9 KOs) winning a lopsided eight round decision over Alexander Johnson (21-1, 5 KOs). After showing some good signs early countering Garcia, Johnson would go into a shell by the fourth. Garcia appeared close to a stoppage behind clubbing right hands and hooks downstairs, but the Cuban prospect did not consistently throw heavy shots. Garcia would take the decision by scores of 80-71 and 80-72 twice. Johnson could be heard blaming his performance on an undisclosed stomach ailment.