Early on, it looked like Anthony Dirrell was going to have a quick night and explosive victory in front of his home fans. Instead, Dirrell's night ended because of a bad cut he suffered midway through the bout.
Dirrell (31-1-1, 24 knockouts) won a six-round technical decision against Denis Douglin on Friday night in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions in Dirrell's home of Flint, Michigan. Scores of the bout were 49-46, and 48-47 twice in favor of Dirrell.
The former 168-pound titlist had his opponent hurt in the first round of their bout, but the veteran gatekeeper escaped.
Douglin (20-6, 13 KOs) has been in with the likes of Jermell Charlo, George Groves, and David Benavidez, so he had a well of experience to draw on after hurt. After holding on in the first, he regained his senses and tried outfighting the much taller and longer Dirrell on the inside, gaining some success. Dirrell was able to catch Douglin coming in and make him think twice about implementing the inside fight.
Dirrell seemed intent on looking for one big punch rather than setting his shots up after hurting Douglin early. It allowed Douglin to regain his confidence by being busier and sticking his head in Dirrell's chest.
"I was going for the knockout," said Dirrell. "I wanted to get him out of there. I was getting hit and I got frustrated occasionally. I need to stick to the game plan a little better and make sure I'm doing what I want to do in the ring."
The two had a contentious lead up to the bout and it brewed into the actual fight. In the fourth round, the referee went to separate the two and both fighters threw on the break and got chippy with each other. It got the fight moving a bit more and Dirrell landed a big uppercut that startled Douglin up a bit. Douglin didn't back down and the two exchanged some monster hooks to end the round.
“ I was going for the knockout. I wanted to get him out of there. ” Anthony Dirrell, on fight with Denis Douglin
Dirrell mixed up his punches well, alternating from hooks to uppercuts, walking Douglin down in the process. Douglin was docked a point in the sixth round, though it's unclear why.
Dirrell ended up with a bad cut right above his left eye, and it was ruled to be from a headbutt. Blood poured into his eye and referee Frank Garza called up the doctor, who halted the bout on account of Dirrell's vision being impaired.
Dirrell surely wanted a more definitive win as he hopes to line up a big fight with one of the reigning titleholders at super middleweight. Dirrell had previous matchups lined up with David Benavidez and Callum Smith, but they didn't materalize. Dirrell should still be in the mix for a title fight, his only loss coming to Badou Jack in 2015 when Dirrell dropped his title.
Dirrell is 33 years old and seemed anxious to get another crack at the top of the division. He looked good against Douglin until the time of the stoppage and hopes it'll be enough to get another shot in 2018.
"I'm right there with anyone in this division," said Dirrell. "I was getting ready for a title fight and I hurt my back but I'm ready now. I want to face anyone with a belt or whoever will step up to the challenge."