By Jason Pribila – ringside in Brooklyn: Several times this evening I’ve said the phrase, “He’s still around.”
It’s amazing how the inflection of the voice told the stories of the fighters who inspired that thought.
Bernard Hopkins: Wow. He’s still around.
Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi: Yep, they’re still around.
Sakio Bika: Christ! He’s still around.
Bika has put together a resume that could be simplified by saying that he is a tough out for anyone, and only comes up short against the division’s elite.
On Saturday night, Bika entered the ring to defend his WBA super middleweight title against the undefeated Anthony Dirrell of Flint, Mich. Dirrell entered the ring undefeated, but relatively untested, and new to fighting on such a large stage.
Early on Bika attempted to land every kind of punch and foul he could against his opponent in green. Elbows, shoulders, head-butts, and even a take-down were all part of Bika’s plan to take Dirrell out of the fight physically, if not mentally.
In round three, Dirrell decided to stand up to the bully. He began to land flush right hands at the suddenly easy to reach Bika. Dirrell pounded his chest at the end of the round to let everyone know that he was willing to go to war.
Bika controlled the distance and seemed to hurt Dirrell against the ropes in the fourth round.
The momentum shifted again in a big way for Dirrell in the fifth when he again caught Bika with a right, but this time he put “The Scorpion” down to the canvas.
The fighters fought at a close range the majority of the fight. Bika remained the aggressor, and he found success placing his head on Dirrell’s chest, as he ripped vicious shots to the body.
Dirrell was a bit stingier with his punch output, but when he would throw he found success countering Bika upstairs.
As they came down the stretch each fighter showed signs of both pulling away, and running out of gas. Dirrell hit the canvas in the eleventh in what was ruled a slip. When he again retreated to his corner, Bika followed and ripped punches to the body. A sweeping left that landed below the beltline sent Dirrell to the canvas and the foul cost Bika a point.
Dirrell kept Bika off him in the final round. And when he realized that the round was about to end, he raised his arms and ended the fight on his bicycle.
The rough and tumble fight would be in the hands of the judges.
Prior to the scores being read, Dirrell stated in the ring, “I put on an “A” performance, and I got the job done.”
Unfortunately for Dirrell, only judge Joe Pasquale agreed.
Pasquale handed in a wide score of 116-110. Bika got the nod on Don Trella’s card by a score of 114-112. And finally Glen Feldman’s score of 113-113 ensured that neither fighter would be happy when they left the ring.
“I feel like I was fighting the referee as well,” Bika said following the fight. “The body shot was a legitimate body shot, and Dirrell just wanted to milk it.”
CompuBox stats also backed up the Bika’s claim that he was the busier fighter. He out threw Dirrell 609–477, and he outlanded him by a slim 170-167.
Secondsout.com agreed with Trella’s card of 114-112 for Bika.
We already knew what Bika was before the fight, and his game is not yet fading. To me, Dirrell showed toughness, and I feel he will become a better fighter after going through this experience.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter.com @PribsBoxing.