Archive for the ‘Fight Reports’ Category


Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

How confident are you in your abilities? Enough to bet $150,000? That’s essentially what Sullivan Barrera did when he turned down a career-high payday ($400,000) to face WBO title-holder Sergey Kovalev last night at Madison Square Garden. Insulted by the fact Main Events wouldn’t commit to a second fight with a higher purse, Barrera opted to face blue-chip prospect Dmitry Bivol for $250,000, believing a good showing would lead to better standing at the negotiating table with Kovalev.

It was a showcase alright — Dmitry Bivol is now in line for an eventual Kovalev fight after dismantling Barrera over 12 one-sided rounds and scoring a late stoppage.

There was little to criticize from Bivol. He outlanded Barrera 243-77, and controlled range by out-jabbing the Cuban 97-10. Barrera tried to make it a rough affair, but his tendency to lunge forward after power shots resulted in Bivol clipping him with 3-4 punch combinations. It was reminiscent of how Juan Manuel Marquez would punish foes for wayward punches.

The finishing combination was a 1-2 right down the pike. Barrera beat the count but was in no shape to continue on.

In only his fourth year as a pro, I wouldn’t rush Bivol into a Kovalev unification just yet. The Krusher should set his sights on the winner of Badou Jack vs. Adonis Stevenson, which would give the 13-0 Bivol at least two more fights to hone his craft.

As for the rest of us, let Barrera serve as a shining example not to bet against Bivol.





Photo Credit: Amanda Westcott

In the midst all the hoopla from Saturday night’s exciting heavyweight battle between Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz, there was a sad finale that occurred on the undercard. Andre Dirrell, once seen as one of the future big names in boxing, stood broken in the corner after failing to come for the eighth round of his rematch against Jose Uzcategui. Written off long ago by most fans and media, there won’t be many articles written about Dirrell’s closing chapter. But for those like myself who once saw the potential in the man dubbed “The Matrix,” his surrender last night serves as a sad finale to one of the most disappointing careers of the last 10 years.

As hard as it is to believe, there once was a time when Andre Dirrell was seen as a more promising talent than Andre Ward. My first introduction to the Flint, Michigan native and Olympic silver medalist came not as a writer, but as a fan way back in 2005. Laila Ali was headlining an ESPN2 card at Atlanta’s Philips Arena against Leatitia Robinson, and both Dirrell brothers were competing in their second fights. Each blew their hapless foes out with Andre doing his in less than a round. Even at this early stage, the otherworldly nature of Dirrell’s speed was something to witness live. He looked like a young Roy Jones Jr. in the making.


This is the worst fight I’ve seen in my life. This running and potshotting is just horrible! – Harold Lederman on Dirrell vs. Stevens

Speed alone does not make a great fighter. The first chink in the armor came in what was supposed to be his breakout showcase on HBO against Curtis Stevens in 2007. In one of the worst fights ever aired on the network, Dirrell played keep away from Stevens and was content to throw single punches sparingly while being booed out the building. The fight would be Dirrell’s first and last on the network.

He rebounded on Showtime the following year with an impressive fifth round TKO of contender Anthony Hanshaw. We saw Dirrell had power when he was willing to stand his ground, and it brought back some fan goodwill following a one-sided stoppage of Derrick Findley headed into the Super Six tournament in 2009.

The Super Six tournament was the best and worst of times concerning Dirrell’s career. In his two fights against Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham, he looked spectacular in landing dazzling left-hand counters and making his foes look like rank amateurs. In other moments, he turned into a deer in headlights at any semblance of pressure, resorting to constant holding and falling over when more than two punches came his way. He failed to meet Froch’s late aggression and dropped a close split decision, and took a DQ win against Abraham where many feel to this day he milked an illegal punch to avoid Abraham’s late rally.

Then came the “wandering in the wilderness” part of Dirrell’s career. He pulled out the Super Six after claiming neurological issues from the Abraham fight (other speculated it was due to not wanting to face Ward), he would fight just twice from 2010-2013 in non-descript bouts under 50 Cent’s doomed SMS Promotions.

Under Al Haymon, Dirrell got more active fighting three times in 2014 (his most busy year since 2008). That lead to his second chance at a title in early 2015 against James DeGale. The entertaining bout saw DeGale score two knockdowns in the second and hang on for a unanimous decision despite a late Dirrell surge.

By this time, the early flaws in Dirrell’s game had become more pronounced with age. The cat-like reflexes that allowed him to glide out of punching range had ebbed away with Dirrell now on the wrong side of 30. His bad balance was consistently exploited, as evidenced by Blake Caparello dropping him in the second round of what was supposed to be a tuneup fight. Dirrell still took the decision, by the word was out — Dirrell was there for the taking.

This brings us to the Jose Uzcategui, who likely will be the last significant opponent of Dirrell’s career. In the first bout, Dirrell struggled with Uzcategui’s pressure and was hurt several times from power shots. Uzcategui was in the midst of a combination when the eighth round bell sounded, and he hit Dirrell late with a left hand that put him on the canvas. Dirrell was awarded a DQ (and more controversy about whether he was acting) and his trainer, Leon Lawson Jr., a suspension and arrest for sucker punching Dirrell.

I’m going to give you one more round… you’re going to regret this day, son. – Virgil Hunter to Dirrell 

Last night’s rematch removed any doubt of who was the better fighter. Uzcategui stripped Dirrell of any confidence by battering him with right hands and constantly forcing him to the ropes. Dirrell retired in his corner after the eighth.

When people look back on the best super middleweights of the 2010s, Andre Dirrell won’t be mentioned. He failed to win a title in two attempts, and never had the signature wins or come from behind victories we’ve seen from his peers in Ward, Froch, Abraham and Mikkel Kessler. He disappeared for long stretches of time. And he never displayed the ability to adjust in the ring and will himself to victory, as we saw Wilder do in the main event against Ortiz.

Could Andre Dirrell’s career trajectory been different under another trainer? Were the Abraham and first Uzcategui first bout just instances of bad luck? Or was Dirrell just an irreparably flawed fighter? That’s the thing about unfulfilled potential — no theorized answer is wrong. And Andre Dirrell is now left to create his own narrative.




Kell Brook is back in win column after two years after a dominant second round KO over Siarhei Rabchanka at the Sheffield Arena.

Book, who came in stating he was “reinvigorated” for a comeback, found the range early and often with the straight right hand. The plodding Rabchanko was kept stationary by the left jab which allowed Brook to add right uppercuts to his attack.

In the second, the right uppercut served as the perfect counter to begin Rabchanko’s downfall. The shot wobbled him and Brook quickly floored his foe with a massive straight right.

The fight marks Brook’s official debut as a 154-pounder after his previous two fights against Errol Spence (welterweight) and Gennady Golovkin (middleweight). He took no damage, looked sharp and did exactly what we’d expect from a former champion against an overmatched foe.

Brook will be closely following next month’s contest between rival Amir Khan and Phil Lo Greco. Most expect a Khan fight before year’s end, but another attractive option at 154 would be WBO title-holder Sadam Ali, who’s coming off retiring Miguel Cotto last December. Unlike the announcers, I’d advise Brook to steer clear of WBA title-holder Jermall Charlo, whose size and punching power could ruin what’s left of Brook’s reserves.

What did you think of Brook’s performance? Should he stay the course and look for a Khan showdown, or go for the belts against either Ali or Charlo? Sound off in the comments.



Callum Smith displayed a formidable jab to easily defeat last-minute replacement Nieky Holzken and advance to face George Groves in the World Boxing Super Series finals.

Holzken, in his 14th fight on less than a week’s notice following an injury pullout from Jurgen Braehmer, displayed good power in his hooks when he sporadically positioned Smith on the ropes. But the more experienced Smith took full advantage of Holzken’s lack of counter-punching and jabbing to get off first and glide out of danger. When Holzken lingered too long in range, Smith would fire eye-catching lead right uppercuts.

But the fight’s most telling weapon would be Smith’s jab. He broke the super middleweight record for jab’s thrown with 852, and moved into second place all-time for jabs landed at 241 behind Hall of Famer Mike McCallum.


Final scorecards were unanimous for Smith — 118-110 and 117-111 twice. George Groves, one week removed from his impressive win over Chris Eubank, was ringside to observe and engage in a staredown. The exact date of the finals remains unclear as Groves is recovering from a left shoulder injury.

Groves, who is more fluid in his offense and in possession of the longer, faster and more powerful jab, remains the favorite to win the tournament as the #1 seed.




The verdict is still out the future career prospects of Devon Alexander and Victor Ortiz after the two veterans battled to a controversial draw in El Paso, Texas.

Alexander, fighting for only the third time in three years, showed a sharp southpaw jab and continually nailed Ortiz with right hooks and straight lefts. The shots resulted in a large mouse under Ortiz’s left eye, but the former champion never wavered in coming forward and inviting power shot exchanges.

The scorecards were 115-113 Ortiz and 114-114 twice. Both guys expressed their willingness to do it again.

“I would love a rematch,” said Alexander. “That’s up to my team to see what’s next, but I’ll fight anybody. I’m a real fighter.”

“A rematch would be awesome,” added Ortiz. “If both teams agree and the fans want it, let’s make it happen.”

BeatsBoxingMayhem had the fight 8-4 for Alexander.



Chris Eubank’s expected a coming out party and instead received a boxing lesson from George Groves, who worked diligently behind a disruptive left jab to score a clear unanimous decision (117-112, 116-112, 115-11) at the Manchester Arena.

It was clear early on that Eubank didn’t come into this fight with a Plan B. He fully expected his athleticism would allow him to get inside and use his explosive power. Instead, he found himself stuck on the outside and eating jabs. When he attempted to barrel through, Groves would tie him up and force a reset at ring center. This essentially was the pattern of the entire fight.


As the fight wore on, Eubank’s attempts to get inside got more and more reckless. We got errant fouls from both, but Eubank would get the worst of the legal and illegal actions. He received a bad cut over his right eye from a clash of heads. He was lucky in the middle rounds when the referee missed a flash knockdown.


Eubank found his best success when he took risks and worked from mid-range. Groves would give ground to the ropes and Eubank had space to pound the body and exchange upstairs. Eubank particularly did this well in the championship rounds where Groves’s stamina began to wane.

We would find out later that Groves suffered a dislocated left shoulder early in the 12th, robbing him of the left jab that kept Eubank’s contained. The challenger took full advantage and dominated the stanza, but Groves showed durability and slickness by rolling with of Eubank’s power shots.

At press time, the severity of Groves’s injury is unknown. All are hopeful it won’t be an extended delay as Groves is set to the meet the winner of Callum Smith and Jurgen Brahmer (February 24) in the World Boxing Super Series Finals. Usually, recovery time can range anywhere from six weeks to three months.

In the meantime, Chris Eubank has to take a long hard look in the mirror. It’s time to stop believing his own hype and get with a new trainer. Naseem Hamed was commentating and absolutely ripped him, going as far to say Eubank showed he’s not a world-class fighter. It’s hard to argue with that considering Eubank was rendered clueless by Groves’s jab and look like an amateur throwing wild haymakers.

28 years old doesn’t exactly make Chris Eubank an old fighter. The question becomes whether it’s too old to unlearn the bad habits he’s internalized.




CANCUN — Miguel Berchelt had an easy homecoming last night in taking less than three rounds to dispose of Maxwell Awuku at the Plaza de Toros.

Berchelt didn’t show any ill effects from the right-hand injury that kept him sidelined for the second half of 2017. The WBC super featherweight title-holder relied on the straight right hand to punctuate combinations as Awuku was repeatedly forced to the ropes. The southpaw challenger would occasionally respond with wild straight lefts that only gave brief reprieves on Berchelt’s forward march.

Awuku was dropped twice early in third with the straight right again being the money punch. The challenger was the verge of the third knockdown before referee Hector Afu halted the beating.

The win is Berchelt’s second defense of the WBC World super featherweight title he won in January 2017 by stopping Francisco Vargas. Awuku, who was not ranked by any of the sanctioning bodies, was the second last-minute substitute after pullouts from Cristian Mijares and Carlo Magali.

Berchelt is now obligated to face mandatory challenger Micky Roman.