In the fog of the warring, the particulars on exactly how an ending is put in motion, the specifics on how and why a fighter decided to stop soldiering, or had it decided for him, can be hard to decipher.
In a corner, after a round in which one man wasn’t contending in a fashion that suggested he could even hope to turn the tide, and score a victory, indecision and doubt can obscure the truth.
On March 3, Andre Dirrell wasn’t on his A-game as he took on Jose Uzcategui in a rematch of their 2017 encounter. At Barclays Center, Dirrell, age 34, didn’t perform in the manner he did when he was on the come up. He was competing like he was the B-side, like he was the one on the descent, like he was the older lion trying to hang with the younger, but finding that the beast across from him had sharper teeth, faster paws, was the better man on that night.
That isn’t to say Dirrell was presenting as a hopeless case the whole way through. Two of three judges had deemed him the winner of rounds six and seven. But in the eighth, the 27-year-old Uzctegui was exerting his skill and will and strength and freshness on the Michigander.
And so, going back to his corner after round eight, a discussion ensured. Trainer Virgil Hunter, with Dirrell for the first time, told the hitter than he needed to show something in the next round, or he’d pull the plug. Cut man Stitch Duran, up in the ring, looking into Dirrell’s eyes, more closely, was of a different mind.
I reached out to Duran, to see if I could piece together what happened in that corner a bit better.
Looks like you had Dirrell’s best interest in mind, I told Stitch. I re-watched the tape, you were telling him, I think, “Dude, it’s OK to call it a day,” and then he agreed with you. Is that what went down Saturday?
“Yes, he was not in the game mentally and physically,” Duran told me.
“So,” Duran was telling him, “I think we should wave the white flag.” Virgil was saying I will give you one more round. The boxer was not disagreeing with Duran, was seemingly agreeing with Hunter, to try one more — but Stitch could tell he was not at his best at that time, and he wanted to prevent more punishment.
But what I didn’t get was, Dirrell seemed to agree to have it stopped, and then put up a protest. Did he not fully understand that Duran was going to tell the ref and doc, no more?
“Nobody wants to go out like that. The body and mind think, no más! The heart says, one more round,” Duran stated.
My three cents: So, the fog envelopes. So much stimulation, so much input, so many emotions bubbling up, while severe fatigue is present. It’s a mix that can result in a chaotic atmosphere. Luckily, you had a Duran in the arena, up close, being able to read body language, subtle signals, words spoken and words left unsaid. The sweet science, so often more savage than sweet.
And again on this night, when Andre Dirrell was hit with lefts, and rights, and harsh reality, that the other guy was just plain better, and maybe soon, or now, I need to assess if this boxing game is still for me.