By Jim Dower: Anthony Dirrell will be defending his WBC super middleweight title against former WBC champion David Benavidez in late September in Los Angeles, according to Mike Coppinger. There’s a chance the Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KOs) vs. Benavidez (21-0, 18 KOs) will wind up on the undercard of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz rematch.
Could this be the end of the line for Dirrell?
This is going to be a tough fight for the 34-year-old Dirrell if he takes it. The 22-year-old Benavidez is looking hard to beat, and he could easily take the belt from Dirrell. Benavidez fought superbly in his last fight in stopping J’Leon Love in the second round last March on the undercard of Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Love had no chance against the hard hitting Benavidez. If Dirrell loses badly to Benavidez, it’s predictable that he could retire.
In his last outing, Dirrell struggled in beating Avni Yildirim by a 10 round technical decision last February to claim the vacant World Boxing Council 168-pound title in Minneapolis. Dirrell suffered a cut from a clash of heads in round seven. When the condition worsened in the 10th, the referee stopped the fight. The match went to the scorecards, and Dirrell edged it by the scores 96-94, 96-94 for Dirrell, and 98-92 for Yildirim. Boxing News 24 had Yildirim winning the fight by a 98-92 score.
Dirrell was getting outworked in the second half of the Yildirim fight after he gassed out. There was a time when Dirrell was one of the best fighters at 168, but age and inactivity has taken a lot of him. Dirrell is still one of the top fighters in the super middleweight division, but he’s not the same fighter. Dirrell lost to Badou Jack by a 12 round majority decision in 2015. In November 2017, Dirrell won a controversial six round technical decision over Denis Douglin. A lot of boxing fan thought Douglin had done enough to deserve the win in that fight. Dirrell’s latest controversial injury stoppage win over Yildirim makes it two out of his last three fights that have ended with controversial decisions on injury stoppages.
Benavidez looking unbeatable
Dirrell is going to need to raise his game for him to avoid losing to Benavidez, because he doesn’t look like he’s ready for this younger fighter. Benavidez is clearly one of the elite fighters at 168 right now. The only guys that might give Benavidez trouble is Billy Joe Saunders, Saul Canelo Alvarez and Callum Smith. You can add Dmitry Bivol to that list if he’s willing to melt down to 168 to take on Benavidez. Those two have sparred together in the recent past. Bivol might have too much experience at the amateur level for Benavidez to handle his talent. Right now, Benavidez doesn’t need to worry about Bivol, because he likely won’t come down in unless it’s to face a popular champion like Canelo or Callum.