While the former 168-pound champion wants to entertain his hometown fans in his first fight back in Flint, Michigan since 2011, Anthony Dirrell is highly aware that veteran Denis Douglin is no pushover.
Anthony Dirrell has been looking to get back in the mix for a title shot since dropping his 168-pound belt to Badou Jack in 2015. On Friday, Dirrell continues on the comeback trail against veteran gatekeeper Denis Douglin on Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 (10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT).
The bout is a homecoming for Dirrell, as it takes place in his hometown of Flint, Michigan, where he was raised along with his brother, Andre. It’ll be the third time Dirrell (30-1-1, 24 knockouts) has fought at home, and the first bout since 2011.
The majority decision loss to Jack two and a half years ago remains the only loss on a career that began in 2005. He’s fought only three times since the loss, all against lesser opposition. Even though Douglin (20-5, 13 KOs) hasn’t beaten a world-class opponent, he’s no pushover, and Dirrell knows it.
"Douglin has fought a lot of good fighters and I respect him, but he's standing in the way of my title shot," Dirrell said. "This is a chance for me to showcase my skills. I'm going for a stoppage, and I think I'm going to get it in the middle rounds. I want to put on a great performance and give the fans something to see. I'm going to get the job done."
Douglin has been in with the likes of David Benavidez, Jermell Charlo, and George Groves, coming up short each time. His biggest win to date is a 2012 victory over a then unbeaten Steven Martinez by decision. Douglin has some solid boxing skills, but likely lacks the punching power necessary to keep Dirrell at bay.
“I’ve taken a lot of fights on short notice and that’s hurt me in the past, but I’ve had ample time and a great training camp to prepare for this fight,” Douglin said. “I think Dirrell has a problem with guys who aren’t afraid of him and who will actually give him a fight. With my style and determination, I’m going to bring a lot more than he’s expecting. I’m going to bring it for 10 rounds and I know I’ll have my arm raised at the end of the day.”
“ Douglin has fought a lot of good fighters and I respect him, but he's standing in the way of my title shot. I want to put on a great performance and give the fans something to see. ” Former 168-pound World Champion Anthony Dirrell
Dirrell knows that a win over Douglin could put him in the mix for a crack at another title in 2018. Dirrell was supposed to face Callum Smith in the summer for the vacant WBC belt, but Smith entered the WBSS instead. He was also scheduled to face Benavidez for his belt, but withdrew and was replaced by
Ronald Gavril. While one belt is tied up in the World Boxing Super Series, that tournament will be resolved in May and Dirrell is certainly an interesting name for the winner. Gilberto Ramirez, Benavidez, and James DeGale all have titles and Dirrell is definitely a worthy challenger.
At 33, Dirrell can’t afford a loss to an opponent of Douglin’s caliber, and needs to come out looking strong in this fight to warrant consideration for another major fight early next year. At 6’2”, he’s got a major height and reach advantage over the 5’8” Douglin, a former 154-pounder fighting two weight classes above his best weight. Dirrell should use his size advantage and take the fight to the smaller Douglin, who will be looking to make it more of a boxing match.
Dirrell said he’s been sparring 10-minute rounds in preparation for this fight, perhaps alluding to the idea that he gassed a bit in his first matchup with Sakio Bika a few years ago. Dirrell flexed his durability and endurance in a 10-round decision win over Marco Antonio Rubio in September 2015, but has fought just seven lopsided rounds since then.
Will Dirrell come out swinging to try and make it an early night?
“I can’t put it on cruise control. I don’t have that button. I am trying to change a little. I am 33 years old and I don’t really know how much longer I’m going to be doing this. You have to be smart when you’re older. There are a lot of young, hungry fighters that don’t care whether or not they get hit. I was one of those fighters. I’m one of those guys who wants to beat the other guy as bad as I can.”
For a complete look at Dirrell vs Douglin, visit our fight page.