Anthony Dirrell was supposed to take his first step up on Saturday night.
Instead, he got a free pass.
Dirrell scored a fourth-round technical knockout over Renan St. Juste in the main event of a ShoBox: The New Generation card from Santa Ynez, Cali., on Friday, however not in the conventional sense. Midway through the fourth round, St. Juste threw a wide right hand that hit Dirrell’s arm, causing his shoulder to visibly pop out upon the inspection of a replay.
The injury happened to take place at the same time Dirrell and St. Juste clashed heads, which obstructed both referee and spectator’s view of the more serious injury. Dirrell shook off the head clash, and began unleashing combinations on St. Juste, until a break was called, and it was noticed that his opponent could no longer move his left arm.
Despite the lackluster finish, Dirrell (24-0, 21 knockouts) seemed to be in full control of the bout, and clearly won all three completed rounds. St. Juste (23-3-1, 15 KO), who has previously spent a great deal of time at middleweight, struggled to work his way into range where he could land his left hand. Often times, he was forced to reach with his left, which caused his right hand to drop, and opened opportunities for Dirrell to counter with a left hook, which he did regularly.
At 39 years of age, it would be difficult to imagine St. Juste returning to middleweight where his 5-foot-9 frame may be more suitable. However, prior to tonight, he was a suggested opponent for a number of top names at 168 pounds, including Mikkel Kessler, Robert Stieglitz and Kelly Pavlik. Assuming his shoulder injury heals, there are still money-making opportunities — if not winnable fights — available for him in the near future.
The victory makes Dirrell the number one contender and mandatory challenger to the WBC titlist, currently Carl Froch.
“The winner of the Super Six, you’ve got (me) next,” announced Dirrell after the bout.
Although Dirrell was likely en route to a victory over St. Juste, one would have to believe that his handlers would want at least one test before challenging either Froch or Andre Ward.
The night’s opening bout was expected by many to be Chris Avalos’ graduation from ShoBox, but it’s evident that he he’ll need to repeat the grade.
Avalos (19-2, 15 KOs) suffered his second career loss, a split decision, at the hands of Colombian Jhonatan Romero (20-0, 12 KOs). Similar to his first folly — also on ShoBox to Christopher Martin — Avalos walked into hard right hands all night long, including a number of comically telegraphed uppercuts that had no business landing in a professional bout.
Despite scoring a first round knockdown, Avalos failed to land the most significant punches in the majority of the rounds. He did, however, push the pace of the bout, throwing far more punches than Romero, but in his frezied activity, left himself open for hard counters.
Romero himself appeared vulnerable to power shots, due to his fondness for standing with his feet parallel along the ropes, and hurling counters with his chin in the air. Alas, as he didn’t in the grander scheme of things, Avalos could not capitalize.
Corey Erdman is also the host of RingTV Radio. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman.