Regardless of how things played on Saturday, Anthony Dirrell was never interested in following the proposed tournament structure surrounding his own fight.
A sanctioned WBC super middleweight title eliminator with Kyrone Davis ended in a 12-round draw for Dirrell, a former two-time titlist who hopes to once again fight for a belt in 2021. Saturday’s outcome didn’t help that cause any, with the three judges left to split the verdict in failing to produce a winner in the PBC on Fox main event from Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
The bout was part of a four-man tournament proposed by the WBC and accepted by PBC, with the other side of the equation coming on March 13, when David Benavidez (23-0, 20KOs) faces Ronald Ellis atop a Showtime-televised tripleheader. A win by either Dirrell or Davis would have provided a target for whomever prevails between Benavidez and Ellis. Most experts figured it to set up a rematch with Benavidez for Dirrell, though not even the thought of avenging his last defeat was ever enough to conside looking in that direction.
“I don’t want that fight,” Dirrell dismissively told BoxingScene.com over the thought of facing Benavidez without a belt at stake. “I want to fight for the championship. I don’t want Benavidez, I want a title.
“If it ain’t for a belt, I don’t want to fight it.”
Benavidez claimed the WBC strap in a 9th round injury stoppage of Dirrell, who suffered a horrific cut over his eye in their Sept. 2019 bout. The title reign for Benavidez ended with his missing weight and vacating the belt ahead of a 10th round stoppage of Alexis Angulo last August, with the belt since making its way to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (55-1-2, 37KOs) in a 12-round shutout of England’s Callum Smith (27-1, 19KOs) to also pick up the WBA strap.
Alvarez defended both belts less than an hour after Dirrell’s draw with Davis, scoring a stoppage win over Avni Yildirim over three one-sided rounds Saturday evening in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Mexican icon will next enter a three-belt unification bout with WBO titlist Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14KOs) on May 8 at a venue to be determined.
If his next fight is to be for a title, that would leave just one option for Dirrell. The lone remaining major title claimant is undefeated IBF titlist Caleb Plant (21-0, 12KOs), who is coming off of a 12-round shutout of former titlist Caleb Truax in this very venue this past January.
“I’ll take any of them,” insists Dirrell, who injured his right hand in Saturday’s bout, though doesn’t expect it to keep him out of the ring too long. “Whoever has a belt, whoever we can get. I’ll fight Canelo. I’ll fight Caleb Plant. Whoever has a belt. I want to fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox