Not every fighter makes you want to watch them and in fact many fighters have found a way to turn a crowd against them. One such fighter was Anthony Dirrell (26-0-1, 22) who was given the opportunity of a life time this past weekend when he met WBC Super Middleweight champion Sakio Bika (32-5-3, 21). Bika, defending his belt for the first time was the betting under-dog, the older man, the more worn man, the slower man and also the lesser skilled man however he was also the determined man and the man who didn't want to give up his title.
We often talk about champions losing their hunger once they win a world title. What we ended up with in this bout however was a champion who was hungry and a challenger who seemed to have filled his stomach with disappointment.
The first round summed up much of the bout as Dirrell, who looked incredibly classy in spurts, did next to nothing. Bika's wasn't clean or effective but he was doing something. On my card you get points for doing something if the other guy is doing next to nothing.
Having basically taken the opening round off Dirrell then had a good second round and a great third round. At the end of the third it seemed obvious that Dirrell had the speed, power and skills to hurt, rock and possibly even stop Bika.
Sadly the momentum that Dirrell had been building was lost in round 4 as he took the round off and spent it trying to box as a south paw. It was frustrating to see someone with genuine natural talent let Bika off the hook but it was hoped that Dirrell would come back hard in round 5 and that's exactly what he did. It was in round 5 that Dirrell had his best round of the fight dropping Bika and coming close to stopping it Bika looking gone before the bell saved him
Amazingly despite looking completely done in round 5 Bika fought back well and took round 6 as he appeared to rock Dirrell. Out of nowhere it was Dirrell who was in trouble and it seemed that the fight suddenly swung in favour of Bika. The most interesting part of round 6 wasn't the fighting in the ring but Dirrell's resigned look after it. It seemed like the American just didn't want to be there anymore.
Despite looking sick of the fight and the rough and tumble style of Bika who was relentless in coming forward even if he was crude and messy Dirrell had some decent moments in round 7. It was a round that was up for grabs with Dirrell not doing much but Bika not landing much.
Round 7 was arguable the last you could have given to Dirrell who began to really just turn off. He was backing up incessantly, posing and looking ready to strike but actually throwing next to nothing. It seemed that either Dirrell didn't want to win or just didn't care about fighting any more. Bika though was too crude to land the bombs that makes a fighter quit, and instead the marauding fighter kept coming forward with little real success.
By the end of round 10 the good work of Dirrell's was long gone and it was hard to to make any case for Dirrell to be winning. At best it was 95-94 to Bika, at worst it may have been a round wider as Dirrell kept doing nothing. What wasn't helping the American was the awful work of his corner team who weren't shouting things such as "box 'im good", they seemed to be out of ideas when it came to firing their man up whilst Dirrell himself looked so uninterested that it was hard to believe he was in a world title fight.
Dirrell did get a break, of sorts, in round 11 as Bika's clumsiness saw him deducted a point for a low blow. Even with the deduction Dirrell didn't do anything to actually win the round resulting in a 9-9 round.
It seemed like Bika was in the lead, it seemed Dirrell's inability to fight like a challenger was costing him and in round 12 it really did cost him as he threw away a close round by be running around the ring with his hands up high. There was no way you could give him the round after he had been such an idiot.
Despite the fact I had it 114-112 to Bika I couldn't feasibly see a way to favour Dirrell and in fact I felt generous even having it that close. One judge having it a draw however wasn't out of the question as the cards came back with scores of 114-112, 113-113 and the frankly ridiculous 110-116 in favour of Dirrell. I had assumed the 113-113 card was "the bad one" until I heard the final card which genuinely made my stomach turn. How a judge had given Dirrell 8 rounds was and is still a mystery to me.