It's a battle between seasoned veteran and hungry up-and-comer as two-time champion Anthony Dirrell and Kyrone Davis throw down in a 168-pound title eliminator Saturday night on FOX.
The super middleweights come back into the spotlight this Saturday as a veteran former two-time champion meets the challenge of a young and hungry newcomer in a title eliminator clash.
This Saturday, February 27, live from the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles, atop a FOX PBC Fight Night card (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT), two-time super middleweight world champion Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell (33-2-1, 24 KOs) takes on Kyrone “Shut It Down” Davis (15-2, 6 KOs) in a 12-round WBC Super Middleweight World Title eliminator.
On the televised undercard, a pair of welterweight teenage sensations is featured as 19-year-old phenom Jesus Ramos battles Jesus Bojorquez in a 10-round contest and 18-year-old prospect Vito Mielnicki, Jr. meets Noe Lopez in an eight-round bout.
Anthony Dirrell's story is one of overcoming obstacles. Diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2006, Dirrell persevered through rounds of debilitating chemotherapy to make his ring return just two years later. Then, in 2012, he suffered through a career-threatening motorcycle accident that shattered his leg and wrist. Two years after that setback, he would win the WBC super middleweight title from Sakio Bika.
"The Dog" lost the title in his first defense against Badou Jack but would go on a subsequent 6-0 run that ended with him beating Avni Yildirim for the vacant WBC super middleweight title in February of 2019.
His latest setback is a title-losing KO loss at the hands of David Benavidez in September of 2019. It was the kind of tough defeat for a veteran fighter in his mid-30's that makes one question whether the end of the line has come.
But the Flint, Michigan native is all about tenacity and is now once again, at 36, just one win away from a title shot and having a presence in a top-heavy 168-pound class that includes names such as Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, David Benavidez, and Caleb Plant.
For Kyrone Davis, the road to stardom is just beginning.
The 26-year-old originally from Monmouth, N.J., but now proudly representing Wilmington, DE, is a three-time national champ and was an alternate in the 2016 Olympic games. His pro career, however, has flown a bit under the radar.
Wins over the then-undefeated Marcos Hernandez and once-defeated Carlos Ozan have been offset by losses against Junior Castillo and Patrick Day. 2-0 since the Day loss in 2018, Davis will be moving from his comfort weight zone of 154-160 to 168 but insists that the move up won't affect his ability to wage war.
The winner of this contest moves into the title mix in the deep and talented 168-pound division. The loser may find himself out of the big-money, big-opportunity mix indefinitely.
“ I’m knocking his a– out. ” Two-Time World Super Middleweight Champion - Anthony Dirrell
Dirrell has quick, accurate hands and is very effective when punching in combinations. He's also a switch-hitter, able to work effectively from both orthodox and southpaw stances.
At this stage of his career, the two-time world champ is a savvy, well-travelled veteran with a cool, calm, and confident ring demeanor. One could argue that he can be a bit too cool and calm at times, allowing for lulls in action where an opponent can steal moments and sometimes full rounds. Although able to work as either an aggressor or as a counter-puncher, he seems to prefer sitting back and picking apart forward-minded opposition with smart counters.
A high ring IQ and solid all-around skill set make him a sound defender, despite having struggled at times against fighters with next-level ability.
Davis is a tough, physically strong battler who likes to come forward and put pressure on opposition. He's right-hand dominant but can hit and hurt with his left as well. Despite being somewhat lacking in one-punch explosiveness, he can beat down an opponent with solid pop behind consistent pressure. His work to the body is very solid and an underrated aspect to his offensive game.
On defense, Davis has some liabilities. He can be hit and hurt in pursuit of offensive openings. His offensive mindset and physical toughness sometimes allow him to take too much punishment as he comes forward.
"I think Davis bit off more than he can chew. He’s good but I’m in a different bracket. There’s levels to this. I’m going to go in there and display my experience, what I can do and just get him out of there. I feel good at 36-years-old. I feel strong. I’m literally ready to fight right now. I’m knocking his a– out."
"This is an ultimate challenge. Dirrell is a two-time world champion, he has a lot of pedigree, a lot of experience. But every dog has its day and I plan on capturing my moment. I’m not worried about what he has done. What he has done makes this moment bigger and I’m just thankful for this opportunity."
Dirrell is the favorite in this contest and deservedly so. He has a huge advantage in experience and in all-around skill. He'll also be fighting at his own comfortable weight class while Davis will be moving up there for the first time.
However, age can be the ultimate nullifier-- especially after a 17-month layoff against a hard-charging opponent brimming with youthful energy and confidence.
It's pretty much a sure thing that Davis will push forward while Dirrell works in his comfort zone, countering his less-experienced foe.
In Dirrell's second title-winning effort, his opponent, Yildirim, had success in pushing Dirrell backwards and stealing rounds with greater activity. Davis would be wise to work that approach as a way to nullify Dirrell's advantages and keep the bout at more manageable close quarters.
While Dirrell could win at up-close trench warfare, his best bet is to keep Davis at arm's length where an edge in hand speed and skill would serve him well.
All in all, Dirrell-Davis should be a compelling battle between two fighters who are always honest and earnest in their efforts. Even without a world title shot awaiting the winner, this one would be hotly contested. The big stakes, though, should make this one especially hard fought.
For a closer look at Dirrell vs. Davis, check out our fight night page.
- Dirrell vs Davis