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TRAINER: ANDRE DIRRELL'S DOMINATION OF DARRYL CUNNINGHAM WAS TOO QUICK
Switch-hitting super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell (20-1, 14 KOs) ended a 21-month ring absence with Friday night's second-round stoppage of southpaw Darryl Cunningham (24-3, 10 KOs), stopping Cunningham's 17-fight winning that had included seven knockouts.
A 2004 Olympic bronze medalist, Dirrell was last in the ring against Germany's Arthur Abraham in March of last year in the second round of the Showtime's Super Six World Super Middleweight Classic.
That bout ended in controversy when Abraham was disqualified after punching Dirrell -- who was far ahead on the cards -- while he was down in the 11th round. Dirrell then exited the tournament, citing neurological issues.
Despite his having been out of the ring for nearly two years, Dirrell's trainer, Leon Lawson Sr., saw few flaws in his fighter's game.
He just wished he had more time to observe the 28-year-old Dirrell in action.
"I don't have any real criticism of anything that Andre did. I mean, he looked good to me. The only thing is that I wish that I could have seen more out of him just to be able to evaluate him more and to see what we need to work on," said Lawson Jr., Dirrell's uncle and trainer along with Dirrell's grandfather, Leon Lawson Sr.
"Other than that, I'm happy. I'm just happy that he is back. You could tell that he was emotional, coming out, because he had been out of the ring for so long. I'm just happy that he got the chance to do what he loves to do again, which is to fight, because fighting is his life."
Prior to facing Abraham, Dirrell had lost a split-decision to current RING No. 2-rated and former WBC super middleweight beltholder Froch, who lost by unanimous decision to Andre Ward in the finals of the Super Six tournament on Dec. 17.
TAYLOR MAKES SUCCESSFUL RETURN TO THE MIDDLEWEIGHT DIVISION HE ONCE DOMINATED
Dirrell-Cunningham was part of a Showtime-televised double-header whose main event featured the comeback of former undisputed middleweight beltholder Jermain Taylor (29-4-1, 18 KOs).
The 33-year-old Taylor scored an eighth-round stoppage of 24-year-old Baltimore native Jessie Nicklow (22-3-3, 8 KOs) at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa in Cabazon, Calif, ending an unbeaten streak of 3-0-1, with one knockout for Nicklow since he was stopped in the fourth round by Fernando Guerrereo in December of 2009.
Also a former member of the Super Six Tournament, Taylor's previous two bouts were against Froch and Abraham, who, like Taylor, is a former middleweight titleholder.
Taylor was knocked out in the 12th round by Froch in April of 2009, and by Abraham in the 12th in October of 2009 -- one bout prior to Abraham's facing Dirrell.
Taylor pulled out of the Super Six tournament in January of last year after being stopped by Abraham. He was briefly hospitalized in Germany following the loss, received a CT Scan and an MRI as well as other testing, and was diagnosed with a concussion, short-term memory loss and bleeding on the brain.
Taylor was approved in September for a boxing license by the Nevada State Athletic Commission by a 5-0 vote, and was back in the ring against Nicklow after a 26-month absence -- this time, returning as a middleweight.
Although the loss to Abraham was the fourth in the previous five fights for Taylor, and his third by knockout during that time, there is arguably not a boxer in the sport who has battled through as many tough, consecutive bouts as Taylor.
Over his past 14 fights, Taylor has been in 12 matchups opposite men who were either titleholders at the time they met Taylor, or, who were once beltholders.
Taylor's repertoire includes two wins over Bernard Hopkins, and one victory each over southpaw former IBF junior middleweight beltholder Cory Spinks as well as ex-titlewinners William Joppy, Kassim Ouma, Jeff Lacy and Raul Marquez. Taylor has also battled to a draw with former titleholder Winky Wright.
Taylor was undisputed champion following the first win over Hopkins, which ended Hopkins' division-record run of 20 title defenses in July of 2005.
But Taylor's career also includes the two losses to Kelly Pavlik, the first by seventh-round knockout to dethrone Taylor as WBO/WBC middleweight beltholder in September of 2007, and the next by unanimous decision in a 164-pound, non-title clash in February of 2008.
Photo by Chris Royle, Fightwire Images
Photos by Tom Casino, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org