Dirrell Defeats Yildirim by Controversial Technical Split Decision

By Robert Ecksel on February 24, 2019
Dirrell Defeats Yildirim by Controversial Technical Split Decision
But it was close and could have gone either way had the fight not been waved off. (WBC)

If ringside physicians really want to “first, do no harm,” they should concern themselves with repeated punches to the head…

Saturday night at the Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the fight of the night in a crowded night of fights was ruined when Anthony Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KOs), the former WBC super middleweight champion from Flint, Michigan, was gifted a controversial technical split decision and the vacant WBC super middleweight title over Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs), the hard-luck boxer-puncher from Istanbul, Turkey, after the ringside physician decided Dirrell could not continue after an accidental headbutt reopened a gash on his left eyelid.

With the stoppage at the end of round 10—whatever stoppage might mean when it’s ruled that the house fighter, who failed to object at the time, cannot continue because of a cut—it went to the judges who scored it 98-92 for Yildirim and 96-94 twice for Dirrell.

When the decision was announced, havoc ensued, and rightfully so. Yildirim was fighting the fight of his life and the title was within reach. He felt he was robbed. His corner felt he was robbed. Many in the crowd and on social media felt he was robbed. Even I, who have grown more accustomed to robbery than I might like, felt he was robbed. Yildirim was very much in the fight, as the scorecards of two of the three judges, all of whom are paid by the promoter and who turned in 96-94 scorecards for Dirrell, indicated.

It’s hard to remain objective, especially if one is receiving money from PBC or its surrogates. But seasoned fight fans have seen gashes much worse than Dirrell’s. Could it be that the stoppage was premature? Could it be that the stoppage was unnecessary? Is it possible the stoppage was a way to make sure Dirrell won the title? He was probably ahead in any case, even though he was fighting the wrong fight, but it was close and could have gone either way had the bout not been waved off.

Ringside physicians often know next to nothing about boxing. Most of them are freelancing, vicariously getting as close to action as possible without actually getting hit. But if they can misdiagnose or make mistakes in the O.R., they can just as easily misdiagnose and make mistakes on the ring apron.

Whether it was Rocky Marciano’s left nostril split in half by Ezzard Charles in their second fight in September 1954 (“I knew something was wrong,” recalled The Rock, “because the blood was running like from a faucet”) or the wound on Badou Jack’s forehead in his recent fight with Marcus Browne, no fighter ever died from a cut. Fighters fight with broken hands. Fighters fight with detached retinas. They know the risks, none of which prevent them from fighting.

If ringside physicians, in accord with the Hippocratic Oath, really want to “first, do no harm” (or “primum non nocere,” the Latin translation from the original Greek), they should concern themselves with repeated punches to the head, and leave decisions concerning cuts to TV executives worried about alienating squeamish viewers.

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  1. Saul Blanco 03:38pm, 02/25/2019

    Having read this article about Dirrell vs Yildirim’s I could not agree more . Dirrell doubled Yildirim’s in experience however Avni was fighting a fight of his life. I totally agree after seeing Badou Jack’s cut with his fight allowed to be continued something smells rotten here . I was at the Armory on Minneapolis and you simply don’t stop a championship fight specially when someone is fighting in hostile territory and giving it his all . I am convinced that if this fight continues Yildirim is the champ and righteously so . No flattering comments around me about Dirrell who called Yildirim a worthless bum at the press conference . He got more than he bargained for. Amazing analysis and perspective . Funny enough I conducted an informal survey of fans around me and they felt that Yildirim was robbed . I just think that in consolation he earned a tremendous amount of respect . This is the only article I have read that makes true sense . Thanks again

  2. Koolz 03:25pm, 02/25/2019

    I remember that Jones fight.  That’s nutz how long he let that go with Lebedev’s eye trying to come out of his head!

  3. Koolz 03:24pm, 02/25/2019


    man is it getting hard to find the fights now!

    I thought Dirrell lost this.

  4. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 07:56am, 02/24/2019

    Just thought of the tragic Luis Resto vs Billy Collins bout. More of a swelling issue than blood loss but another gruesome discovery. Better to live to fight another day. These guys aren’t animals and no matter how tough they are, humans for the most part are very fragile creatures. Better safe than sorry. After all this is a sport and not a life or death situation.

  5. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 07:49am, 02/24/2019

    Like Al Silvani said to Rocky in the original, “Rocky,” “I’ve seen worse.”  “Cover up, things will be okay.” Basilio’s swollen eye comes to mind and more than a few others. Check out Denis Lebedev’s eye during his fight with Guillermo Jones.

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