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Anthony Dirrell wins second super middleweight title, outpoints Avni Yildirim by tech. decision

File photo shows Anthony Dirrell in his 2014 win over Sakio Bika
24
Feb

Anthony Dirrell is now a two-time world titleholder, but victory didn’t come easy on Saturday night for the Flint, Michigan native.

Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KOs) dug deep to carve out a narrow ten round technical split decision over Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) at The Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota for the vacant WBC super middleweight title.

The bout was scheduled for twelve rounds but the ringside physician made the recommendation to referee Mark Nelson to stop the bout after examining the cut over Dirrell’s left eye which was caused by an accidental clash of heads in the seventh round.

The official scores were 96-94 for Dirrell on two cards and 98-92 for Yildirim on the third.

In an entertaining back and forth battle where both fighters had their moments it was Dirrell who emerged victorious with rapid uppercuts and hard body shots. Yildirim made the fight more compelling than Dirrell would have liked it to be by closing the distance and landing clean shots in close quarters.

Dirrell found himself fighting off the ropes in the middle rounds, but just when the Turkish fighter thought he had found an opening Dirrell would bounce off the ropes and land a lead right hand or a left uppercut to slow Yildirim down long enough to land his own power shots. As both men inched closer and closer to one another Yildirim leaned his head in while looking for an opening and collided with Dirrell’s head causing a nasty gash which would ultimately be the reason for the stoppage after Dirrell’s corner was unable to mask the wide cut.

“I wanted to finish the fight like a champion,” Dirrell said immediately after the bout and called out the other champions in the 168-pound division include Caleb Plant who was ringside calling the bout for FS1.

Dirrell had been out of action for ten months since winning a one-sided unanimous decision over Abraham Han. Dirrell and Yildirim fought for the title vacated by David Benavidez. Dirrell originally won the super middleweight title in 2014 by defeating Sakio Bika. The Michigan native lost the belt to Badou Jack in his first title defense eight months later. While on the journey to fight for a for world title,

Dirrell was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in late 2006 causing him to be out of ring for two years. Later on his career Dirrell suffered another health setback after being involved in a serious motorcycle accident.

Prior to the bout against Yildirim, Dirrell toyed with the idea of retiring after tonight but has now left the door open for a unification bout or a mandatory title defense.

In the televised co-feature bout hometown favorite Jamal James (25-1, 12 KOs) defeated Janer Gonzalez (19-2-1, 15 KOs) by TKO after Gonzalez was unable to answer the bell for seventh round.

Making his third consecutive appearance at the Armory in his hometown of Minneapolis, James could have gotten credit for a knockdown in the sixth round when an overhand right he threw just barely grazed Gonzalez’ shoulder sending him down to the canvas. Referee Gary Miezwa ruled it a slip and allowed the action to resume. James then set up a right hook to the body followed by right hand upstairs and a left hook to the body which forced Gonzalez to take a knee. Gonzalez beat the count but his body language didn’t look good at all. In between rounds Gonzales acknowledged he had had enough and could not continue.

The 30-year-old James landed 73 of his power shots and 112 punches overall to 70 punches landed by Gonzalez. Gonzalez worked inside on the 6’2’’ James landing a solid left hook in the second round causing a cut underneath James’ right eye. James roared back in the fourth-round landing a big right hand backing Gonzalez into the ropes and hurting him to the body. By the sixth round James had established control and used his length and reach to control the pace and ultimately drop Gonzalez.

James has now won five straight bouts since losing to Yordenis Ugas. Gonzalez had not fought since his 2017 loss to Radzhab Butaev.

In the opening bout of the main FS1 telecast Jeison Rosario (18-1-1, 13 KOs) scored a ninth round TKO victory over Marcos Hernandez (13-2-1, 3 KOs) in a rematch of their first bout last year. The official time of the stoppage was 2:45.

The 23-year-old Rosario had taken control of the second half of the bout and dropped Hernandez with a counter left hook in the ninth round. Hernandez made it to his feet and seemed as if he recovered well but Rosario jumped on the Fresno, California native, landing a half dozen unanswered blows to force referee Celestino Ruiz to stop the bout.

Rosario landed 202 total punches to 166 from Hernandez. As the bout went on it was evident Rosario’s punches started to have more of an effect on Hernandez, even opening a cut over Hernandez’ right eye in the sixth round. Hernandez found success in the early rounds when he kept the action on the outside, but once the Dominican fighter found his way inside the momentum started to shift toward Rosario. By the end of the eighth round Hernandez was bleeding from over his right eye, nose and mouth.

Rosario and Hernandez fought to a six round split decision draw last year in El Paso Texas. This was Rosario’s second time appearing at the Armory in Minneapolis. He defeated Jamontay Clark in his previous visit to the Land of 10,000 Lakes last August.

Also on the televised undercard Bryant Perrella (16-2, 13 KOs) scored a unanimous decision victory over Breidis Precott. The official scores were 79-73 twice and 78-74. Perrella gets back in the win column after dropping a majority decision to Luis Collazo last year in New York.

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