By Manouk Akopyan
Anthony Dirrell is currently the proud owner of the WBC super middleweight championship.
But he didn’t necessarily take it away from the previous owner. The heralded green belt fell in his lap after David Benavidez was stripped of his title for failing a drug test last year.
Dirrell outpointed Avni Yildirim in February to take the vacant title just as Benavidez was serving a year-long suspension. It was the second time Dirrell won the 168-pound belt, having done so once before in 2014 when he bested Sakio Bika. Dirrell never successfully defended his title, however, promptly losing it to Badou Jack in his next fight.
Dirrell doesn’t want history to repeat itself, as Benavidez will be coming for the belt he was forced to forfeit when the two face-off on Sept. 28. The matchup will be the co-featured fight to the Errol Spence Jr.-Shawn Porter showdown on FOX pay-per-view.
The 34-year-old Flint, Michigan fighter has no intentions of being a temporary placeholder, he told Boxing Scene in an interview.
“I’m looking for the knockout, just like I know he will be. I’m ready to go 12 rounds, and that belt is staying home with me,” said Dirrell. “A win is a win no matter how it comes.”
Dirrell will walk into the ring 12-years senior than his 22-year-old counterpart. He said he will lean heavily on his experience and fight back with hopes of fending off the favorite-to-win Benavidez.
“He’s a come-forward fighter and is going to bring the pressure no matter what,” said Dirrell. “That’s what the fans want to see, but I’m going to break him down and win this fight. I know I can do it."
Dirrell said the hardest part preparing for Benavidez is simply being isolated away from his family, but that won’t prove to be a distraction throughout camp.
Jack is the only fighter who has made multiple defenses of the 168-pound WBC belt (three times) this decade among the six total titleholders. Dirrell is embracing the opportunity he failed to seize in his first go-round defending his crown.
"Being an underdog is great, it motivates me,” said Dirrell. “I'm fine with it because I can prove everybody wrong at the end of the day. It's about making history, and you can't make history if you don't go in there and take a chance.”
Manouk Akopyan has been a member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011 and has written for the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Guardian and Philadelphia Inquirer. He can reached on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at [email protected].