Detroit is known worldwide for it cars, thus the moniker the Motor City. And, of course, Motown records established a musical legacy that is etched in lore, too. However, simultaneously earning its place in American sports remembrance was Detroit’s boxing history. It started with legendary fighters Joe Louis and Sugar Ray Robinson getting their starts at the Detroit’s famed Brewster Recreation Center, and was elevated further with the international ascension of the Kronk Boxing club.
So it was appropriate that Showtime Boxing would bring its Group Stage 2 bout of the Super Six World Boxing Classic to the Joe Louis Arena Saturday.
Showtime’s super middleweight tournament was originally planned to be staged in California, but an injury forced a change in venue.
Promoter Gary Shaw, citing the rich history of Detroit and boxing, shifted the fight to the Motor City. The fans did not disappoint as a reported 4,500 enthusiastic fans enlivened the Joe.
“Detroit is a great fight town with a rich boxing history,” Shaw told me. “The crowd was electric and I think it can be even better. I would love to come back here again and produce another show. I think we can do even better with more time and effort.”
It did not hurt that Flint’s 2004 Olympic bronze medalist, Andre Dirrell, was the featured fighter against Germany’s 30-year-old slugger Arthur Abraham.
Everyone was abuzz at the start of the contest, but no one could have envisioned the bizarre and strange ending to one to the more entertaining boxing matches I have seen in quite some time.
With Dirrell, 26, having implemented a masterful fight strategy over the favored opponent with excellent execution and precision, all three judges had the fight 97-92, 98-91 and 97-92 in Dirrell’s favor at the start of the 11th round.
Now comes the unusual: Late into the 11th round Dirrell slipped on some water near Abraham’s corner and went down to one knee. Abraham proceeded to unleash a vicious left hook on an exposed and prone Dirrell.
Dirrell (19-1, 13 KOs) flopped instantaneously to the canvas, where one ring doctor thought Dirrell had a seizure, while another thought he had a concussion as his body was making jerking movements. As a result, the referee stopped the fight after Abraham intentionally fouled Dirrell, who ended up winning on a disqualification.
When they finally got Dirrell to his feet he was apparently still unconscious and did not know where he was or what had happened. He kept saying, “Did I get knocked out?” His corner had to inform him he had won the fight.
The bizarre actions by Abraham almost started a riot in the Joe, as fans, family and friends rushed the ring concerned about Dirrell’s health. In the end police and organizers had to clear the arena before Abraham could leave the ring and go back to his dressing room.
Dirrell really needed this fight to stay in the tourney hunt, after losing a controversial decision in London to its home fighter. Well, he came out like a warrior and used every facet of his boxing repertoire, moving expertly from left to right, counter punching, jabbing and exhibiting punching power as he put Abraham on the canvas for the first time in his career in the second round.
Unfortunately, Dirrell did not get to enjoy his wonderful showing as the dazed fighter was taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital and was released after about four hours when all tests came back negative.
Also, Ronald Hearns, the son of Kronk’s legendary Thomas Hearns, the eight-time world champion, showed all that he is still on track to produce a solid career, after starting boxing when he was 24. He won a unanimous decision over Marteze Logan of Covington, Tenn., on the undercard of the Super Six classic. He peppered Logan with stinging jabs and solid power punches.
Hearns is 24-1 with 18 knockouts and has the same frame as his dad, but is fighting to get out of his giant shadow.
“I’m happy where I am as a fighter,” Ronald told me after the fight. “From where I started to where I am now I think I’m on track to have some good things happen for me. If I win my next fight, I get a major televised bout this summer. I’m working hard to make it happen.”
And Detroit’s Vernon Paris scored a unanimous decision over Oscar Leon of Miami in a hard-fought junior-welterweight contest.
Spotted at the fight were Detroit Pistons Chucky Atkins and Tayshaun Prince, former Lion Shawn Rogers, former Kronk champion fighters Milton McCrory and Johnathon Banks, and representing Showtime were announcers Steve Alberts, Al Bernstein and former champion Antonio Taver.
Leland Stein can be reached at email@example.com.