Anthony Dirrell’s Road Back To A Title Runs Through Denis Douglin

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Former 168-pound champion looks to put on a show Friday night in his hometown of Flint, Michigan and show he's still an elite super middleweight.

Anthony Dirrell admits he had a bad night when he lost his title to Badou Jack on April 24, 2015, but says a big win in his hometown of Flint, Michigan on Friday would push him back into championship contention. (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

Anthony Dirrell just can’t help himself. The erstwhile super middleweight champion never could. There is this compulsion that takes over the 33-year-old from Flint, Michigan. It’s a drive he tries to control, though he can’t.

A few errant fists go flying, and while they may or may not connect, the switch is lit. The red glare builds in his eyes, fearlessness rises, and before Dirrell knows it, he’s sucked again into the vortex.

On Friday night from the Dort Federal Event Center in Flint, Dirrell will again be at the center of that storm in a 10-round super middleweight bout with Denis Douglin (20-5, 13 KOs)—which serves as the main event of the FS1-televised card at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.  

Somehow, someway, despite the fact that Douglin will be fighting for the first time in over a year, this matchup promises to be a great fight, simply because Dirrell is always in great fights. It’s a compunction Dirrell (30-1-1, 24 KOs) tries to steer clear of and can’t.

“I can box if I need to box, and I can bang if I need to bang, and it’s something I’ve always done,” said Dirrell, who has a three-fight winning streak since losing his 168-pound title to Badou Jack in April 2015. “In a lot of my fights, I come out looking for the knockout, and if I don’t get it, I can hopefully go the rounds necessary.

“I think I gassed out in one fight, and that was against Sakio Bika the first time we fought [a split-draw]. I learned from my mistakes. I definitely showed I could go the whole 12. The second fight I came back [against Bika] a little stronger and came back to win. And I know I make things tough on myself; I know it. I can outbox guys if I wanted to. Sometimes, you have to push yourself to that limit and see how far your body can go. I have to be smarter. I know that.”

I want to use this and get another shot at a world championship. I would love to get a shot at David Benavidez. That’s the goal. I’m ready to fight anyone out there. Former 168-pound World Champion Anthony Dirrell

A victory over Douglin will confidently send “The Dog” forward.

Dirrell, who sparred 10-minute rounds for this fight, says he’s much wiser and more patient than he’s ever been. He says he’s going to be more calculating in taking apart the compact 5-foot-8 Douglin, who has a 73-inch reach in comparison to the 6-foot-2 Dirrell’s 74½-inch reach.

Dirrell is an anachronism. It would be easy to see him on black-and-white celluloid, wading his way into an opponent with his shoulders. Then stepping back to throw a torrent of punches. While many of today’s fighters fail to take risks, while some fight to just win and coast when possible, Dirrell goes against the modern axiom and openly admits he wants to stop the other guy every time he fights.  

“I box in the gym and I can beat a lot of guys, but I like to push my body and see what I can take,” Dirrell said. “It’s just the way I am. You live and learn through situations. But I have no problem saying that every fight I go into with the attitude to knock the other guy out. I want to give the fans exciting fights.

“I can’t put it on cruise control. I don’t have that button. I am trying to change a little. I am 33 years old and I don’t really know how much longer I’m going to be doing this. You have to be smart when you’re older. There are a lot of young, hungry fighters that don’t care whether or not they get hit. I was one of those fighters. I’m one of those guys who wants to beat the other guy as bad as I can.”

Dirrell admits that he’s not taking Douglin lightly. He openly says he doesn’t know much about Douglin, other than his record and that he is a southpaw. Dirrell also knows he towers over Douglin.

“Douglin may be shorter than me, but you have to respect everyone that gets into the ring with you,” Dirrell said. “I want to use this and get another shot at a world championship. I would love to get a shot at [David] Benavidez [who won a super middleweight title in September]. That’s the goal. I’m ready to fight anyone out there. Whether they want to fight me is a different story.

“I’m not going to say guys out there are afraid of me and my brother [Andre]. But we’ve been down and people never have given us the respect I feel we deserve. I had one bad night in boxing and that was against Jack. I’m not afraid of anyone. People were saying I was ducking Benavidez. That’s not true. I hurt my back. The Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight was a joke. The contract was never signed.

“I’ll fight anybody—and everyone in boxing knows that. My focus is where it needs to be. I’m fine and healthy for this fight. I can’t wait.”

For a complete look at Dirrell vs Douglin, visit our fight page.

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