Anthony Dirrell becomes a world champion again—winning a hard-earned technical decision over Avni Yildirim, after an accidental headbutt forced their exciting PBC on FS1 scrap to go to the scorecards in the 10th-round.
It wasn’t easy. But it’s never been easy for Anthony Dirrell.
Dirrell overcame cancer and then a motorcycle accident that shattered his leg and broke his wrist to win the WBC super middleweight title in 2014—only to lose it in his next fight. He doesn’t give up, though. And his persistence paid off again.
Dirrell won the vacant WBC 168-pound title in a brutal battle versus rugged Avni Yildirim in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 at The Armory in Minneapolis.
The fight was decided by a technical split decision after it was stopped during the 10th round because of a bad gash above Dirrell’s left eye.
The cut occurred via accidental clash of heads in round seven. The fight went to the scorecards when the ring doctor ruled that Dirrell couldn’t continue. Two judges scored it for Dirrell 96-94 while the third had Yildirim winning 98-92.
The 98-92 score for Yildirim was probably too wide a score but he made Dirrell earn every point he collected.
Yildirim, hoping to become the first Turk to win a major world title, fought as he always does – like an out-of-control steam roller. He pounded on Dirrell every chance he got, finding his greatest success with Dirrell’s back against the ropes.
However, Dirrell, who was willing to fight Yildirim’s fight most of the night, arguably used his superior skills and speed to land the more eye-catching and harder punches.
Dirrell, apparently concerned about the cut, which bled into his eye, moved in the 10th but still landed the more effective blows before the doctor had seen enough.
“I wanted to keep going, as everybody probably saw,” Dirrell said in the ring. “I was upset. I wanted to keep going and finish the fight as a champion.”
Yildirim (21-2, 12 knockouts) jumped for joy immediately after the fight was stopped because he thought he had won, only to learn that in such circumstances the winner is decided by the judges. Moments after hearing that Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KOs) had won the decision, he stormed out of the ring.
Dirrell, back on top in his up-and-down life, was thrilled.
“It feels good,” said Dirrell, who first won the WBC title when he outpointed Sakio Bika after his illness and motorcycle crash. “I think the first time was probably a little more joyful because of what I was fighting for but this one was … joyful. I’m excited to get another title.”
Dirrell has talked about retirement because he wants to preserve his health and spend more time with his family but he clearly has more work to do in boxing.
His immediate goal now is to unify two 168-pound titles. He mentioned IBF titleholder Caleb Plant, who worked as an analyst on Fox Sports’ telecast and said he’s willing to fight Dirrell. Another possibility is David Benavidez, who was stripped of the WBC title after testing positive for cocaine.
“Of course I want to unify,” he said. “Caleb Plant, any of the champions. I’m ready to fight. I’ll go home, take some time, talk to my camp and we’ll go from there.”
He was then asked about Benavidez and replied, “If that fight calls, I’ll fight. That’s the plan. I got to see where the money is at the end of the day.”
Dirrell earned his money on Saturday night.
Jamal James makes Janer Gonzalez fold after six
Jamal James gave his hometown fans exactly what they hoped to see.
James, a 6-foot-2 welterweight from Minneapolis, controlled his scheduled 10-round fight against Janer Gonzalez with his long jab and hard rights before ending matters in the sixth. A left hook to the gut put Gonzalez down with seconds left.
Gonzalez (19-2-1, 15 KOs) couldn’t come out for the seventh, according to the official announcement. The Colombian had moments when he countered nicely, particularly to the body, but he couldn’t get close enough to James with enough consistency to do damage.
The 30-year-old James (25-1, 12 KOs) is ranked third by the WBA and twelfth by the WBC. He believes he has earned the right to fight for one of the 147-pound titles.
Jeison Rosario stops Marcos Hernandez in ninth round
The Dominican, who fought to a six-round split-decision draw with Hernandez almost exactly a year ago, outworked, outlanded and ultimately knocked out his rival at 2:45 of the ninth round of a scheduled 10-round fight.
Rosario (18-1-1, 13 KOs) was the busier, more accurate puncher from beginning to end, which won him rounds and gradually wore down a game Hernandez (13-2-1, 3 KOs).
However, the end came suddenly. With a minute remaining in the ninth, Rosario dropped Hernandez with a perfect left hook. Hernandez got up but didn’t last much longer, as Rosario unloaded a barrage of hard shots that prompted the referee to stop the fight.
Rosario, ranked No. 11 by the IBF, is 6-0-1 since he was stopped by Nathaniel Gallimore in 2017.
Welterweight Bryant Perrella (16-2, 13 KOs) of Fort Myers, Florida defeated Colombian Bredis Prescott (31-16, 22 KOs) of Colombia by a unanimous decision in an eight-round bout. Prescott, 35, has lost eight of his past nine fights and is 11-16 since he knocked out Amir Khan in 2008.
Lightweight prospect Justin Pauldo (12-1, 6 KOs) stopped Federico Malespina (16-11-2, 2 KOs) of Argentina in the first round of a scheduled eight-rounder, the Orlando native’s sixth consecutive victory.
For a complete recap of Dirrell vs Yildirim, check out our fight night page.