Sunday, April 02, 2023  |



Rosenthal mailbag: Dirrell-Abraham

Fighters Network

The bizarre ending of the Andre Dirrell-Arthur Abraham fight and the column I wrote afterward seemed to strike a chord with many readers. Here’s a sampling of emails and my responses.


Abraham is just being a sore loser. He knew he was getting dominated and he clearly saw that Dirrel was down. He showed unsportsmanship by taking the cheap shot and got what he deserved, a DQ.

That’s how I saw it, James. Not everyone agrees with us, though. Read on.


I enjoyed the article on Andre. I thought it was a great fight. He did a wonderful job. I think he had Arthur so frustrated and that's what we saw at the end. I feel so bad for Andre. He seems like a nice guy and has caught two really rough breaks [controversial loss to Carl Froch and this]. Hopefully he can come back from this. I believe he will. Once he sees the tapes, he will realize that he was doing great. I was super disappointed in Arthur's post-fight behavior. I thought he was a nice guy. I'm sure he was frustrated with the outcome … but what a jerk.

Cornelius, N.C.

Thanks Andrew. I hope you’re right. I hope he looks back on this an unfortunate ending to a splendid performance. Some fighters have difficulty bouncing back from a brutal knockout like that, though. Fingers crossed. As for Abraham, I was disappointed too. We shouldn’t be too hard on him, though. He had just lost his first fight in a very strange way. He was confused to some degree too.



This was hardly as dominating a performance for Dirrell as you make it sound. Dirrell did box his best fight to date and looked excellent at times for the first eight rounds, but AA was closing the gap in the championship rounds. AA dropped Dirrell in the 10th, hurt him and was going in for the kill in the 11th. It was looking like a late stoppage victory for AA as Dirrell was being hit more and more and his legs along with his punches were losing steam.

That being said, it was a very foolish and dangerous punch by AA to Dirrell to cause the dramatic ending. Dirrell went down due to a glancing punch and slipping, and AA pulled a Roy Jones Jr.-Montell Griffin. Too bad, because it looked like the KO was going to come in the 11th or 12th anyway for him.

Pretty decent fight. Hope Dirrel is OK, as that's the kind of KO that ruins fighters. Just don't go all crazy with the hyperbole as this was becoming a very close fight in the last couple rounds, with AA landing the power shots late, as is the norm in all of his fights.


Zak. You’re not the only one who suggested that an Abraham knockout was imminent before he was DQ’d. This is the way I saw it: Abraham was beginning to cut off the ring and, yes, Dirrell was tiring somewhat. However, it’s a giant leap from that to an actual knockout with only a round and a half remaining. Dirrrell demonstrated exceptional boxing ability throughout the fight. I believe strongly that he had both the skills and state of mind to avoid the knockout. Abraham was on his way to losing that fight.


Hello Mr.Rosenthal,

I have seen the fight of Abraham against Direll and was very upset about the fight. First, the fight was two times canceled. This was OK for Abraham. Afterwards, there was a lot of mental games against Abraham. His way into the ring was not well organized and the crowd had no respect for the foreign fighter. I think boxing is so special because of the respect between the fighters and between the audience and the fighter. Yes, you are right that Dirrell was clearly ahead on points. But everybody knows that Abraham is a fighter who knocks his opponent in the last three or four rounds. It was the same with Jermain Taylor. Dirrell knew this and after the 10th round everybody saw that this was going to happen. OK, Abraham did wrong by hitting him after his knee was on the floor. But to make this a huge thing is not right. As a boxer, you have adrenalin flowing. This I think is the reason why Arthur hit him after he was down. This also happened to Roy Jones Jr. in his prime. And nobody made a big problem of it. I think Dirrell was on his back steps in the last rounds, tired and afraid of being knocked out. For him, this mistake of Abraham came on point. It was a good fight but a shortened fight. I think a complete fight would show another winner.


Great email, ├ûzkan. I don’t agree with you, though. First, the crowd was bound to be at least somewhat hostile. The fight took place in Dirrell’s backyard. I don’t think it was a problem for Abraham. Second, and I reiterate, I realize that Abraham has a history of late knockouts. I now compare him to a distance runner who typically lags behind in his races and then uses a tremendous kick to win at the tape. The problem with that? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Again, I don’t think Abraham was going catch Dirrell this time. And, honestly, I don’t think Abraham would win a rematch. Dirrell is a young fighter who learns a great deal every time he fights. He’d be better the second time around, assuming he gets past that crazy knockout. As reader Matt put it: Abraham can’t handle a pure boxer.


You didn't mention Abraham's frustration at being head butted (the cause of the cut as seen on replay) and having a knockdown called a slip (as also seen on replay). The announcers agreed with me on both those. I'm sure he felt there was no way the referee – is he from Flint too? – would let him win that fight.


The replay wasn’t conclusive on the head butt, although I tend to agree with you on that. Either way, Abraham didn’t react to it at all. What makes you think he was frustrated by it? Yes, the referee made a mistake by not giving Abraham a knockdown. However, you fail to mention that Dirrell also should’ve received a knockdown when he sent Abraham flying against the ropes earlier in the fight. That’s a wash in my opinion, which the announcers also suggested. Don’t blame referee Laurence Cole for Abraham’s loss; blame Abraham.


Good acting by Dirrell. Right choice to DQ Arthur but EVERYONE I have spoken to and 75 percent of people on the internet think it was a dive. I suggest you change your article as it’s ridiculously biased. No mention of the incompetent referee or blatant low blows from Dirrell either.

(Scratching my head.) That was an Academy Award-level acting performance if that’s what it was. I take it back: Even Robert DeNiro couldn’t have pulled this one off. C’mon, Dirrell was clearly disoriented after the fight. No fighter is that good an actor. Remember, the punches that do the most damage are the ones a fighter doesn’t see. Dirrell was on the canvas and looking down when he was nailed by Abraham. It’s no wonder he was so out of it. And fighters who dominate a fight as Dirrell did don’t suddenly look for a way out in the final round and a half. Yes, he was in survival mode to some degree but he didn’t lose all confidence in an instant. And even if Dirrell did exaggerate the effects of the foul, it doesn't matter. Abraham deserved to be disqualified.


Nice to see that Abraham and his people have learned the art of not taking responsibility.
Better yet, with their talk of testing Dirrell for doping, they've picked up Karl Rove's tactic of blaming the victim. What scumbags.


Charlie. I agree with you. Did he take lessons from Mikkel Kessler? Again, though, I wouldn’t be too hard on Abraham. The heat of the moment can push a fighter to say something he might later regret. Let’s see what he says in the coming days.


Can Abraham be de DQ'd from the tournament?

Newbury Park, Calif.

I don't think they'd do that. DQs are a part of boxing. And Abraham's actions weren't malicious. He made a mistake in the heat of the moment.


Hey Mike,

I was at the fight at the Joe, and it went exactly as i thought. Abraham faced a world-class boxer for the first time in his life. He proved that he was overrated by many writers and analysts, who failed to realize he had never faced such a fighter before. Many people were mesmerized with his KO's of two overrated fighters, Miranda and a shot Jermain Taylor. I don’t know why people figured he was such a great boxer; he loses at least three rounds in all of his fights.

Some fighters can adapt and deal with any style. Those are the best fighters in the world. Arthur Abraham is not one of them. Yes, he won two rounds. However, nothing suggests he was on the verge of KOing Dirrell, as Andre already had taken his best punches without getting knocked down. If you watch the replay, Arthur’s foot was behind Andre’s. Arthur was also knocked down twice by a boxer. This doesn’t happen to the best fighters in the world, like Floyd, Manny, Hopkins, Klitschkos, Mosley.
Dirrell proved he is a world class boxer. Styles make fights, and I think in the future, he will beat Froch, Abraham, Kessler and Green if they fight. Him vs. Andre Ward, I’m not sure about.

What do you think will happen in Froch vs Abraham (I got Arthur; Froch doesn’t move) and Ward vs. Dirrell?


You had Abraham pegged, Matt, although I think he remains one of the best super middleweights in the world. He just ran into a guy who is a much better boxer. I have to state for the record that I picked Abraham to win the Super Six tournament, which obviously was a mistake. I think Abraham, angry about the result Saturday, will take it out on Froch. Abraham by KO. And I think Ward is a more-complete fighter than Dirrell and will win a decision. I won’t be surprised if Dirrell wins, though; he’s that good.