Unbeaten super middleweight contender Anthony Dirrell of Flint, Mich., will face Canadian southpaw Renan St. Juste on Dec. 2 in a WBC elminator bout for the right to challenge the organization’s RING No. 2-ranked beltholder Carl Froch of England.
Froch (28-1, 20 KOs) must first get beyond WBA beltholder Andre Ward (24-0, 13 KOs) on Dec. 17 in the final bout of the Showtime Super Six Super tournament.
“We’ll take either one of them;” said Dirrell’s uncle, Leon Lawson Jr., who trains Dirrell with Dirrell’s grandfather, Leon Lawson Sr. “Whoever wins will have the WBC belt and the WBA belt. And Team Dirrell encourages them to take the Super Six trophy off the shelf and bring that too.”
The hard-punching Dirrell (23-0, 20 KOs), who turned 27 on Oct. 14, is coming off a second-round stoppage of Kevin Engel on July 22, which was his eighth straight knockout win, his second fight within a 20-day period and his fifth ring appearance within a 10-month stretch. Dirrell had stopped Dante Craig in the fifth round on July 2.
Anthony is the younger brother of 28-year-old southpaw fellow super middleweight and former Olympic bronze medalist, Andre Dirrell (19-1, 13 KOs), who was last in the ring against Arthur Abraham in March of last year. That bout ended in controversy when Abraham punched Dirrell — who was far ahead on the cards — while he was down in the 11th round and was disqualified.
Prior to facing Abraham, Andre lost a split-decision to Froch in October of 2009.
St. Juste (23-2-1, 15 KOs), who is 39, never has been stopped, has won two straight bouts and is coming off an eight-round unanimous decision over Jaudiel Zepeda in July.
A boxer-puncher, Dirrell returned to the ring in October of 2008 from a 26-month ring absence that resulted from a 2007 diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Anthony was diagnosed shortly after he stopped James Hopkins in December 2006 and didn’t return to the ring until October 2008, when he decisioned Andy Mavros over four rounds.
Dirrell went on a roll from there, his third-round knockout of Daryl Salmon last October coming on the day after his 26th birthday. Salmon also marked Dirrell’s fifth straight stoppage in eight consecutive wins since returning against Mavros from the cancer scare.
“Anthony is already right there with the best in the division, and we feel that he’s only scratching the surface,” said Leon Lawson Jr.
“He’s ready to prove himself. We believe that this fight will show to the world that Anthony belongs with the elite of the weight class.”
The Dirrell brothers, at one time, discussed the naturally smaller Anthony dropping to middleweight, although they’ll wait and see how their careers move forward before addressing the issue further, according to Leon Lawson Jr.
Photo courtesy of Anthony Dirrell
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org