David Benavidez stops Anthony Dirrell in the 9th to reclaim the WBC super middleweight title
LOS ANGELES — David Benavidez drew blood and battered Anthony Dirrell, forcing his corner to throw in the towel in the ninth round. Benavidez, of Phoenix, Arizona, once again has the WBC super middleweight title in his possession.
Dirrell-Benavidez was the co-main of the Errol Spence Jr.-Shawn Porter PPV card distributed by Fox.
Benavidez (22-0, 19 knockouts) definitely had the crowd support. As Jimmy Lennon Jr. announced his name, the Mexican-American fans inside Staples Center roared. Dirrell, of Flint, Michigan, drew mostly boos from the partisan crowd.
Early on, Dirrell utilized his quicker feet to stay out of range, staying on the back foot while the much younger Benavidez stalked forward. “The Dog” appeared to carry the opening round off his jab.
It was more of the same to start the second round, but “El Bandera Roja” was applying pressure and getting closer. By the third, Benavidez was connecting more often and beginning to work both upstairs and downstairs. Dirrell stood his ground and slowed the pace in the fourth, appearing to steal the round with an offensive burst in the closing seconds.
In the fifth, Benavidez picked up the pace, outworking Dirrell for most of the round and landing a clean straight right just before the bell sounded. It felt like the momentum had swung to Benavidez. He continued to press the action in the sixth round, where a left hook opened up a nasty gash over Dirrell’s right eye. The crowd awed as close up shots of the cut were shown on the Fox PPV broadcast between rounds.
Two minutes into the seventh, referee Tom Taylor paused the action to have the ring doctor inspect Dirrell’s cut. After a quick examination, the fight continued. Dirrell bit down and threw punches with bad intentions, but Benavidez smelled blood and returned fire. It was high drama.
Things got chippy in the eighth as Dirrell appeared to go below the belt a few times, while Benavidez did a little extracurricular activity with his elbows. Late in the round, the 22-year-old former titleholder landed several vicious body shots that hurt Dirrell for the first time, forcing him to hold on.
In the ninth, Dirrell just couldn’t keep Benavidez off of him. Benavidez connected with nearly everything he threw. Dirrell was reeling. Finally, his corner had seen enough and threw in the towel, which was absolutely the right move. It had turned into a one-sided, bloody beating.
Benavidez reclaimed the super middleweight title that he lost outside of the ring. He now figures to jump to No. 1 in the Ring ratings.
“This was one of the hardest fights I’ve had,” he said. “It was very tactical. It wasn’t easy. I’ve got a lot of respect for Anthony Dirrell, especially the way he fought tonight.”
Dirrell (33-2-1, 24 KOs) was gracious in defeat. The former titleholder gave Benavidez full credit for the win and never used the cut as an excuse.
“Much respect to the champion” Dirrell said, “he fought his ass off. He’s the true champion. In the whole lead up to the fight and with all the press, he was a champion.”
Michael Montero can be found on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram via @MonteroOnBoxing. His weekly podcast ‘The Neutral Corner’ can be heard on iTunes, Spotify, iHeartRadio and elsewhere.
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