By Lamar Sparkman
Thursday morning Showtime held a teleconference with reporters to announce that Andre Dirrell would be withdrawing from the super six world boxing classic with an undisclosed health condition. He was scheduled to fight his friend and fellow 2004 Olympic teammate Andre Ward on November 27th. The fight was originally scheduled for September 25th but the fighters’ promoters had negotiation issues.
Showtime GM Ken Hershman announced the withdrawal but didn’t disclose the injury and it’s unclear if he even knew himself as he directed those questions to Dirrell’s team. He expressed his frustration saying, “Obviously we’re disappointed by this development, but we still believe in the Super Six. Really the circumstances that we were confronted with were really unprecedented. As a boxing fan and somebody who really believes in the tournament structure, it can’t be anything but disappointing.” He did say that Ward would still fight on that date with an opponent TBA but it’s unclear whether it would be part of the Super Six.
Dirrell’s trainer Leon Lawson, Jr. later told espn.com that he had “neurological problems” resulting from his fight with Arthur Abraham back in March. In that fight he was struck by Abraham on the side the head after slipping to the canvas in the 11th round. Dirrell won the fight via DQ but complained of a headache and was taken to the hospital for tests which came back ok. Lawson claims that “Andre was saying he was having headaches and dizziness…my father (head trainer Leon Lawson, Sr.) and me asked him how long it was going on and he said periodically since after the fight.” The question that begs to be answered is why did they fell to inform Showtime or Dirrell’s promoter Gary Shaw? It’s been 6 months since that fight and Dirrell’s Team hasn’t said a word even after the fight was rescheduled. Lawson says they took Dirrell to a neurologist who advised him to not fight until he was symptom free for at least 3 months. It’s beyond unprofessional for them not to inform Showtime of these developments with all the money and resources they have invested in the tournament.
This abrupt announcement might come as a surprise to some but for months many boxing insiders have been skeptical of this fight happening. It became apparent that they were reluctant to fight each other when both sides were dragging their feet with negotiations and were unable to compromise on a site. There was no ticket announcement, no promotion, and neither fighter officially began training even after receiving papers from Showtime threatening legal action.
As a fan that has followed the sport closely for the last four years I have my own theory about what took place. Dirrell is represented by boxing’s notorious power broker Al Haymon who I think looked for a way to get Andre out of the tournament. Before the tourney started he was a talented, charismatic, undefeated contender on the rise but lost his first fight against Carl Froch via controversial UD in the UK. He looked great in his last fight against the rugged Abraham and seem to be coming into his own as a fighter before the DQ and he now was facing the tourney favorite and arguably the most talented fighter in the division in Andre Ward. It would be too risky to chance losing another fight for less money than they desire. So why not take a break and come back to face a lesser opponent and go for bigger purses and fight Ward down the line for more money when they both become more marketable. I hope I’m wrong but the timing of this whole thing is just too convenient and doesn’t add up. If we see him in the ring early 2011 I’ll have my answer.
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is born and raised in Nashville,TN I’m a business major currently taking classes for business and information systems. I enjoy watching many sports but there’s something unique about the discipline it takes to go through weeks of training to prepare yourself mentally and physically for a fight. I grew up watching boxing with my dad but stop watching in the late 90′s when sanctioning bodies watered the sport down with so many belts in each weight class. In 2005, I went to watch Hopkins/Taylor I and it brought me back, I’ve been a huge fan every since and enjoy reading and commenting about the sport with other fans.
Favorite boxers: Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roy Jones, Jr.
Most memorable fights: Tyson-Douglas, Bowe-Holyfield II, and Tyson-Holyfield I and II
Follow at http://twitter.com/lamarfromtn