Corey Erdman

Taylor, Dirrell enjoy easy nights in respective ring returns

ShoBox: The New Generation broadcasts tend to be exercises in even matchmaking, but the “special” co-feature from the Morongo Hotel & Resort in Cabazon, Calif., showcasing the returns of both Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell on Friday turned out to be an exhibition of mismatches.

Both fighters were returning to the sport following time off due to head injuries and neither met any resistance in their comeback bouts.

Taylor (29-4-1, 18 knockouts), who was back in the ring after a 26-month absence, cruised back into the win column with an eighth-round TKO over Jessie Nicklow (22-2-3, 8 KOs). Naturally, the biggest question about Taylor was whether he would be able to take a punch after suffering a sickening knockout at the hands of Arthur Abraham the last time he laced up the gloves. That question was not answered, but a handful of new ones arose.

Although he did manage to stop Nicklow, the stoppage itself was questionable. The Baltimore, Md., native wasn’t exactly posing a threat to Taylor at any point, but also didn’t appear to be in enough danger for referee Ray Corona to bail him out, either. The reason for Nicklow’s relatively fair condition through round seven was a result of Taylor’s hesitance to throw right hands.

For nearly the entire fight, the former RING middleweight champion threw jabs and left hooks, but rarely uncorked a purposeful right hand, save for the one that “stopped” Nicklow. In the past, Taylor has been crastized for throwing his right hand too wide, but that he wasn’t throwing it at all in his comeback attempt is concerning.

Nonetheless, he will now campaign at middleweight, where he once reigned unquestionably. Likely, the thought in the Taylor camp is that fighting at 160 will improve his maligned stamina with additional training, and could aid him in taking punches from lighter men.

“I guess we have to figure it out when we get there,” Taylor told Showtime’s Steve Farhood when asked about his ability to withstand hard blows. “I don’t know either, but I ain’t gonna run from it.”

In the co-comeback of the night, Dirrell was given less than six minutes of work, stopping an overmatched Darryl Cunningham in the second round of super middleweight action.

Dirrell (20-1-0, 14 KOs) has become somewhat of a magnet for the bizarre, as even this contest concluded with unusual moments. After a right hand out of a clinch, Dirrell apologized to Cunningham, with whom he is very familiar from their shared home state of Michigan. The very next punch Dirrell threw floored Cunningham again, prompting the fallen fighter’s corner to throw in the towel. Referee Jack Reiss decided to disregard the towel in the ring, and was bewildered when a network cameraman hopped in the ring, assuming the fight was over.

A mere seconds later, it actually was over, as Dirrell knocked Cunningham (24-3, 10 KOs) to the canvas a third time and the towel was not ignored.when it was hurled in the ring once more.

“I wanted it to go further. I felt a little bit off in my timing, but everything I threw, I threw with full confidence,” Dirrell told Farhood after the bout. “But I’m back. That’s all that matters.”

The broadcast opener was contested between a fighter with no promoter of record, Luis Garcia, and a career sparring partner, Alexander Johnson. Neither man showed themselves to be ready to change their respective predicaments. Garcia (12-0, 9 KOs) collected a dreary eight-round shutout decision victory over Johnson (12-1, 5 KOs), who sulked his way through the majority of the bout, and connected on an average of four punches per round, according to Showtime’s punch statistics.

Against an opponent as threatening as a startled deer, “El Leon” did himself no favors in trying to market himself even in a winning performance. Despite an extensive amateur background, Garcia looked very much like a novice professional, often slinging wide, slapping arm punches from a flat-footed stance. Without any power or leverage behind his attack, even the most complacent foe was able to navigate his way to the final bell.


Corey Erdman is also the host of RingTV Radio. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman

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