Anthony Dirrell fights on the Canelo-Plant undercard in search for one last shot at greatness
Anthony Dirrell has twice won the WBC super middleweight world title, and he would like nothing more than to finish his career with a third belt for his collection.
He is the first to admit that his time remaining in boxing is limited, so if he is going to get another chance at glory, it needs to happen sooner than later. If it doesn’t, he is resigned to retirement.
But Dirrell believes a good performance in the co-feature of the Canelo Alvarez-Caleb Plant fight for the Ring super middleweight championship and all four major belts on Saturday (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas will go a long way toward obtaining that opportunity.
Dirrell will face “Madman” Marcos Hernandez in a 10-rounder, aiming for a performance eye-catching enough that the winner of the main event will look his way for their next defense.
“It’s big because I can display what I have to bring to the table for the winner,” Dirrell told The Ring. “That’s what I want and hopefully I can get it. If not, then I’m really, really considering just hanging it up. I’m just tired of doing it for nothing.”
Still, he is motivated by being on a big card knowing that a good performance might lead to something much bigger.
“I got a nice shot to show the world that I’m a real champion, especially on this undercard as the co-main event. I’m excited about the opportunity,” Dirrell said. “I just look forward to doing my part. I’m still at the top of my game right now. I’m still training hard, still getting my butt in the gym and doing what I need to do to look good in this fight. I’m trying to steal the show.”
Officially, Dirrell is 0-1-1 in his last two fights. He lost his world title to David Benavidez by ninth-round corner stoppage when he was unable to continue due to a bad cut by his right eye in September 2019 on the Errol Spence Jr.-Shawn Porter card.
Dirrell was out of all of 2020, mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic, and returned in February, fighting to a disputed split draw with Kyrone Davis in a WBC semifinal elimination bout. One judge had it 115-113 for the heavily favored Dirrell, one judge had it 115-113 for Davis and one judge scored it 114-114.
“I think I won the Kyrone Davis fight,” Dirrell said. “I think a lot of people saw that I just outboxed him, was aggressive and did what I needed to do to pull out the rounds to win. But that’s water under the bridge. I can’t bring that time back, so I’ll just move forward and look forward to the fight on (Saturday).”
That will come against the hard-nosed Hernandez (15-4-2, 3 KOs), 28, of Fresno, California, who lost a split decision to Davis in 2017 and is coming off his most notable victory on Sept. 5, when he dropped then-undefeated Jose Armando Resendiz in the second round and won a unanimous 10-round decision in an upset.
Dirrell said Hernandez should not be taken lightly despite his pedestrian record.
“It’s a fight,” Dirrell acknowledged. “I’m going in here to look my best. I can care less what he looks like.”
After the loss to Benavidez, Dirrell said he was going to retire, but ultimately returned to face Davis and now Hernandez in an effort finish a pro career that began in 2005 in good fashion.
He said he decided to come back after the loss to Benavidez because “I’m a competitor. I think everybody that’s in the sport or in sports in general, we’re all competitors. I can’t do my last fight on a loss or a draw. Maybe this will be the last one. If I don’t get what I want next I’m really, really considering hanging it up. I’m 37 years old. I’m one of the oldest at the top right now and I’m just tired of doing it for nothing. A championship is what I want. I think that’s what a lot of people want, but I’m at the age where I can’t keep doing it and doing it for nothing.”
Dirrell (33-2-2, 24 KOs) has a family at home in Flint, Michigan, including twins – he missed their birthday because he is in camp with trainer SugarHill Steward in Las Vegas — and a 9-year-old son. He has thought a lot about life after boxing.
“I have a few business ventures back at home, apartments, a marijuana dispensary, back at home in Michigan, and I do want to do broadcasting,” Dirrell said. “I’ll give the next chapter 100 percent like I did for the first chapter, and that’s my plan once I’m done with boxing. Once I’m done I’ll never come back, because when I’m done I have to give 100 percent to the other things that I’m doing.”
Still, he believes he has another title run left in him. He said it would mean a lot to him after how much of his life he has devoted to the sport.
“It means I’m there at the top and I’ll be prepared when they do call my number, if they do call my number, after the fight,” Dirrell said. “But if I don’t get it I’ll really, really consider just hanging ‘em up. It’s to the point where boxing is not everything. Boxing’s not the only means of making money or leaving your mark in this world. You can do other things.
“I want to see my kids grow up. I’ve been gone a long time. My twins (turned six this week) and I’m not there. My son, I missed a lot of his birthdays. But like everything, it’s a sacrifice and I’ve been sacrificing for a long time, since 2005. So, if I don’t get it, I’ll have to have a real big conversation with my family.”