December 28th, 2011 By John Signorella
New York, NY- After an action packed and often tumultuously controversial year in the ring, it’s fitting that the last televised card of 2011 is filled with similar traits when highly entertaining scrappers and victims of violent concussions; Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell return to action in separate bouts this weekend.
LIGHTS ARE ON, IS ANYBODY HOME?
After suffering two devastatingly brutal knockouts in his last two encounters, Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KOs) returns after a 27-month layoff to face unheralded “padded record” pug Jessie “Beast” Nicklow (22-2-3, 8 KOs) over 10 scheduled rounds of middleweight (160) pound. Also on tap, another recent recipient of head trauma, Andre “The Matrix” Dirrell (19-1, 13 KOs) meets decent veteran Darryl Cunningham (24-2, 10 KOs) in a proposed 10 round super middleweight (168) opener. Coverage from the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, California begins Friday at 11 PM ET on Showtime.
BANGIN’ IN LITTLE ROCK
After defeating Bernard Hopkins twice on points, former middleweight (160 lbs) champion Taylor went on to successfully defend his crown three times before running into (at the time) tough customer Kelly Pavlik. Taylor fared well in the early rounds against Pavlik and even managed to send Kelly down a few times early. However, as the fight went to the later rounds, Taylor grew tired and was not able to catch his “second wind.”
Taylor’s fatigue resulted with him administering a savage technical knockout loss in the seventh. In a highly anticipated rematch against Pavlik, Jermain lost unanimously on points. Postmortem the Pavilk affairs, Taylor, seeking another world title, moved up in weight to the super middleweight division to face then WBC belt holder Carl Froch. In a 2009 “fight of the year” candidate, similar to the first Pavlik encounter, Taylor was able to send his opponent to the canvas early. But the tide turned in round 12 and Taylor hit the canvas after a barrage of right hands from a highly motivated Froch. As hopeless as it seemed, a brave Taylor got up from the wreckage and tried to finish the fight. Knowing further punishment for Jermain was inevitable, the referee stopped the slaughter (L TKO 12). Taylor then entered the “Super Six” tournament and in just one fight, Jermain was beaten out of the tournament via a concussive right hand to the temple delivered from the limited, but hard-hitting brawler Arthur Abraham (L KO 12).
ANOTHER DAMAGED PUG LOOKS TO GET HIS BONE IN CURTAIN RAISER
Before being handed his first loss to Carl Froch (L SD 12), Andre Dirrell had knocked out nine of his last 12 opponents and had been perfect in 17 encounters overall. Dirrell, mostly known as a slick boxer, by disposing his knockout victims in six rounds or less, unbeknownst to most, Andre has shown he can “pop” a bit. After the disappointment against Froch, Dirrell regrouped and moved onward to face Arthur Abraham. For most of the night, Andre easily out boxed the primitive and crude style of Abraham. Going into the 11th frame, a very frustrated and desperate Abraham pressed the action. While it did appear (to many) that Arthur was being effective with his aggression, and that a punch did land to send Andre down on his backside, Arthur “shit the bed” on his triumph and unjustly fouled a downed Dirrell by hitting him on up side the head, resulting in a severe concussion for Andre (W DQ 11). This forthcoming contest on Friday will be Andre’s first fight in almost two years.