Bika and Dirrell Set to Do it Again:
A few weeks from now, Sakio Bika is set to square off with Anthony Dirrell for a second time at the StubHub Center in Carson, California for the WBC super middleweight strap. Although generally overlooked in fight circles, this is actually a very important match. Not only will it (hopefully) settle affairs between Bika and Dirrell, but it will also settle things up amid the jostling and restless rankings of the super middleweight division as it exists below the rarefied heights occupied by Andre Ward and Carl Froch.
Bika vs. Dirrell II Fight Preview
For years, Sakio Bika’s tough-as-nails, awkward, and (some would say) dirty style of fighting has made him the most avoided contender in the 168 lbs division. Consequently, title shots were few and far between for The Scorpion, and few ever expected him to find his way to a title belt. Yet he finally got one he could win, and his first challenger was undefeated Anthony Dirrell, the younger brother of Andre Dirrell.
The two fought to Split Draw last December. The bout started with fireworks, but then degenerated into an ugly clutch-and-foul fest, which one might expect after Anthony Dirrell started to run out of gas and with Bika involved. I had Bika ahead by one point at the end, but the greater truth is he came very close to winning a Unanimous Decision.
Dirrell dropped Bika with a hard blow in the 5th, and Bika rightfully got docked a point for fouling in the 11th. Both of those were good calls, but without either of those point deductions Bika would have won a Split Decision. Indeed, were it not for the bizarre, but now totally expected spectacle of the clueless, outlier judge ruling the fight as 116-110 for Dirrell, Bika might also have won a Split Decision or the fight would have been ruled a Majority Draw.
The truth is that it wasn’t as close as it might look on the basis of the ruling. Ostensibly it’s Dirrell who ought to be able to make adjustments and win a rematch, but the fact is that Bika grinds away at even great fighters, so I don’t see that happening. Dirrell’s only hope is that he develops a bigger gas tank in training, and that is a slim one.
Going On To Bigger and Better Things
This fight is happening mostly because both guys are with Al Haymon, and neither has a better offer on the table right now, but what about after Bika and Dirrell get free of each other?
This is a division where George Groves is dusting himself off after getting knocked into the dirt in his rematch with Carl Froch; where James DeGale has finally broken out with a pair of TKO wins over undefeateds; and where Mikkel Kessler is starting a comeback. Julio Cesar Chavez is also out there, angling for a fight with Carl Froch, one that might go to James DeGale instead.
The winner of Bika vs. Dirrell II will have the WBC’s green strap around his waist, and guess who the #1 contender for the WBC is? Julio Cesar Chavez. If Chavez gets Froch, the next ratings shake-up following the fight’s outcome might just vault #4 George Groves to #1 or #2, making Groves the mandatory challenger.
The options keep on growing if Bika keeps the belt, as I expect him to. The Cameroonian-Australian is well-known to the British fan base, making a duel with James DeGale very promotable, should Chavez get Froch instead of DeGale.
Then there is Kessler. If none of these things come to pass, and both the winner of this fight and Kessler have had a tune-up or two with journeymen and then no better options, the most logical thing would be for the guy with the green belt (whether it be Dirrell or Bika) to travel to Copenhagen next year for a fight with Kessler, with the Viking Warrior’s devoted Danish fan base paying the bill.
One way or another, the winner of BIka vs. Dirrell is going to become a very interesting and pretty central piece of super middleweight property during the next twelve months.