A former Olympic bronze medalist, Andre Dirrell was last in the ring against Arthur Abraham in March of last year in the second round of the Super Six tournament.
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. Andre Dirrell then exited the tournament, which forced him out of an upcoming matchup with Ward.
“Andre and Anthony and Andre Ward, they came up together. Like [Ward's trainer,] Virgil Hunter, has said, they went to tournaments together in the amateurs. That emotionally attaches you to your guys. So there’s a respect on all sides,” said Leon Lawson Jr.
“There’s a mutual respect there between both camps, this is a great win for Andre Ward. We’re proud of him, but we want that WBC belt, and we want that WBC as soon as possible. You’ve got to watch out for that hunger lion, and right now, Anthony is that hungry lion after fighting that WBC eliminator.”
The 39-year-old St. Juste never had been stopped, had won two straight bouts, and was coming off an eight-round unanimous decision over Jaudiel Zepeda in July. Dirrell-St. Juste ended in a knockout win midway through the fourth round, after St. Juste threw a wide right hand that hit Dirrell’s arm, causing his shoulder to visibly pop out.
St. Juste was forced to submit since he could no longer move his left arm, resulting in the stoppage win for Dirrell, who had been in full control throughout the bout.
“I’ve fought everywhere and I’ve fought everybody. I’m ready to go. I think that I deserve the shot as the No. 1 contender. I’ve got to get with my team and figure it out. We’ll talk about it and go from there,” said Anthony Dirrell.
“The title shot, that’s what I’ve been fighting my whole life for, and now that it’s here, I want that opportunity. I don’t want to wait. I have been doing this for 19 years.”
A boxer-puncher, Anthony Dirrell entered the bout with St. Juste after having scored a second-round stoppage of Kevin Engel on July 22, which was his eighth straight knockout win.
Engel represented Dirrell’s 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 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 Dirrell 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.
“I’ve already done the research. Definitely. And you can quote me on this,” said Anthony Dirrell. “There has never been a boxer who has come back from cancer and won a championship. So, you know, I just want to be the first boxer to do that.”
Photo courtesy of Anthony Dirrell
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org