Anthony Dirrell and Abraham Han duel to reach 168-pound title shot

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Former super middleweight champion Dirrell needs a win tomorrow night on PBC on FOX to earn another shot at regaining a belt, while El Paso's-own Han wants to put on a show for his hometown fans.

Anthony Dirrell didn’t hesitate to accept when he was offered a fight in Abraham Han’s hometown.

Dirrell won his last bout in his own hometown of Flint, Michigan, and therefore understands how much motivation a boxer can draw from fighting before family and friends. The former WBC super middleweight champion is convinced, though, that he’ll prove to be the best opponent of Han’s career when they meet in a nationally televised fight Saturday night in El Paso, Texas.

Dirrell-Han will be one of three bouts broadcast by FOX and FOX Deportes as part of a “Premier Boxing Champions” tripleheader from the Don Haskins Convention Center (8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT).

“I think I’m a big step up for him,” Dirrell said. “This is an important fight for him. But I’m focused on me, and what my ability is and what I can do. And I’m gonna get this guy out of there.”

The 33-year-old Han has lost by knockout or technical knockout just once since he turned pro in December 2007.

Han suffered a grotesque gash along the left side of his scalp that led to his technical knockout loss to then-unbeaten Glen Tapia. The rugged veteran displayed the type of toughness during that grueling, bloody brawl with Tapia that Dirrell expects to make their 10-rounder difficult at times.

“He’s a good, come-forward fighter,” Dirrell said. “He’s a tough fighter. He’s gonna hang in there and try to fight. So that’s what I prepared for, somebody that’s gonna come forward and give me a fight.”

Dirrell, 33, was disappointed that he couldn’t knock out Denis Douglin during his last fight, a scheduled 10-rounder November 17 in Flint.

Instead, Dirrell (31-1-1, 24 KOs) settled for a technical-decision victory over Douglin (20-6, 13 KOs) because Dirrell suffered a nasty laceration over his left eye in the sixth round.

An accidental clash of heads opened Dirrell’s cut, thus the fight went to the scorecards. Each of the judges – Ansel Stewart (49-46), John Belise (48-47) and Ben Rochester (48-47) – scored the fight for Dirrell.

“Of course I wanted to finish the fight with him, but I couldn’t,” Dirrell said. “But a win is a win. You know, you get it how you get it. We went through this training camp, and I’m ready to fight this fight and put that fight behind me, really fight and show the people that I’m a true champion.”

I want to go for a world title. I’ll fight anyone who’s got a belt. A belt is a belt and if I can go out and get any one of them, that’s fine. Former 168-pound World Champion Anthony Dirrell

If Dirrell defeats Han, who’s reckless at times defensively, he hopes to land a title shot in his following fight. Dirrell is the WBC’s No. 2-ranked contender to its super middleweight champ, David Benavidez, and is the IBF’s No. 5-rated challenger for its 168-pound champ, James DeGale.

“I want to go for a world title,” Dirrell said. “I think that’s what everybody that’s doing this wants, a world title for sure. And hopefully I can get that. I’ll fight anyone who’s got a belt. A belt is a belt and if I can go out and get any one of them, that’s fine.”

Dirrell has won four straight fights since Badou Jack beat him by majority decision to take the WBC super middleweight title from him in April 2015.

If Han can upset Dirrell, he would thrust himself into title contention. He’ll fight for just the second time at super middleweight, seven months after his 168-pound debut resulted in a technical draw with J’Leon Love, again the consequence of a costly cut caused by an accidental head-butt.

“I know I’m the underdog versus Dirrell, but that doesn’t bother me at all,” Han said. “I always train to be better than anyone expects me to be. This fight will be no different.”

Han (26-3-1, 16 KOs) is unbeaten in eight fights in El Paso, but he hasn’t faced an opponent in his hometown as accomplished and formidable as Dirrell.

“This is a big fight for me and I’ve been training so hard to put on a great show for my hometown fans,” Han said. “This is a great fight town and I’m going to give the fans something to cheer about. … I hope the sports fans of El Paso come out and watch me put on a great performance. I know the type of challenge I have in front of me, but I also know that I have the skills to pull this off.

“This is a great opportunity to show people outside of El Paso what kind of fighter I really am,” Han said. “I have a lot of experience and I’ve fought all over, but I don’t know if I’ve ever been more prepared for a fight.

“Anthony Dirrell is a great champion, but I’m a champion of this city. This is my chance to take down a big name and move to the next level of the sport.”

For a closer look at Dirrell vs Han, check out our fight page.

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