MINNEAPOLIS (February 24, 2019) – Anthony Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KOs) defeated Avni Yildirim (21-2, 12 KOs) by technical split decision (96-94 X 2 for Dirrell, 98-92 for Yildirim) for the vacant WBC Super Middleweight World Championship in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 and FOX Deportes from the Armory in Minneapolis.
Referee Mark Nelson stopped the contest in the tenth round due to an accidental clash of heads and a cut over Dirrell's left eye with the decision going to the scorecards.
“I was upset with the stoppage because I wanted finish the fight like a champion,” said Dirrell. “It feels great getting my WBC belt back. We want to unify against Caleb Plant or any of the champions. I'm just going to go home, take some time, talk to my camp and then we'll go from there. If the Benavidez fight comes calling then I'll fight him.
“I thought I was winning this fight by more than what the judges had,” added Dirrell. “I was jabbing him and he was applying some pressure, but that's just what he does. I won the fight though and that's all that matters.”
Minneapolis-native Jamal James (25-1, 12 KOs) scored a crowd-pleasing technical knockout win over Janer Gonzalez (19-2-1, 15 KOs).
Midway through the sixth stanza, James appeared to drop Gonzalez with a straight overhand right, but referee Gary Miezwa declared it a slippage. Near the end of the sixth round, James landed another knockdown and this time it counted and hurt Gonzalez. At the close of round six, Gonzalez went to his corner and never came out with the fight being declared a sixth-round stoppage as Gonzalez was unable to answer the bell for the seventh round.
“This is the best crowd I've ever fought in front of,” said James. “We packed this place out. Middle of winter, snow all around us and they still came out and showed a lot of support. I can't even explain the feeling to come out here and stop (Gonzalez). The only question I have is where's my belt? I'm ranked third in the WBA. Keith Thurman got the belt, Pacquiao got the belt. But in all honesty, whoever gives me that opportunity I'm stepping in there with them. “He gave me a great fight, but at the end of the day I had too much to offer and he couldn't get back up,” continued James. “I just kept my range and was able to counter on him. And when he was coming in he was coming in real wild and opening himself up for some big shots that I was able to take advantage of. The first time he went down I thought it was a legitimate knockdown, but the ref was a good ref. I definitely caught him with a good combination and a nasty body shot for the second knockdown. After that, I knew that took the rest of the fight out of him and all I had to do was finish the job.”
“I was thinking this was a very important fight for my career,” said Gonzalez. “I was so happy for this fight, it just didn't go my way. I am going to fight again, though. Every fight is a learning experience for me.”
The FS1 and FOX Deportes opening bout featured a hard-fought rematch between Jeison Rosario (18-1-1, 13 KOs) and Marcos Hernandez (13-2-1, 3 KOs). In February of 2018, the two fought to a draw.
In the rematch, Rosario was able to secure a technical knockout with referee Celestino Ruiz halting the action 2:45 into the ninth frame. At the time of the stoppage, Hernandez was up on judge Kyle Shiely's scorecard (77-75) with Rosario ahead on judges John Mariano's and Tim Taggart's scorecards (78-74, 77-75).
“He let his guard down and he kept making the same mistakes,” said Rosario. “When I saw the opportunity, I dropped him. “The first time we fought I wasn't ready,” added Rosario. “I was weak. But I learned from the first fight what to do in the second one. That's how I took him out.”
“It was a close fight that could have went either way,” said Hernandez. “He hit me with a good shot. I got up and felt O.K. I was just trying to dodge some shots and he hit me with a left. He was firing and I just should have thrown back. “I think the ref stopped the fight early, but that's not my job,” continued Hernandez. “I'd definitely welcome a third fight with Rosario, though. I've never been afraid to fight anyone, so fighting him a third time wouldn't be a problem at all.”
In the Premier Boxing Champions on FS2 prelims, Bryant Perrella (16-2, 13 KOs) won a unanimous decision (78-74, 79-73 X 2) over Breidis Prescott (31-16, 22 KOs).
“I'm very happy with my performance tonight,” said Perrella. “I felt great going the distance. My endurance was fantastic. I would have been much more aggressive and thrown harder shots, but I hurt my hand in the second round and it was hurting the rest of the fight. I just used my jab and ring generalship to control the fight and get the win.”
The FS2 co-feature saw Money Powell IV (9-0, 5 KOs) stop Javier Frazier (8-9-1, 4 KOs) by third-round technical knockout (2:03). Powell landed 86 punches in the bout, 36 of which were to Frazier's body.
“This training camp we really worked on a lot of body shots,” said Powell. “I feel like body shots are neglected nowadays and body shots pay the bills, break you down real quick.”
In the FS2 swing bout, Austin Dulay (13-1, 10 KOs) scored a very quick first-round knockdown of Yardley Cruz (24-13, 14 KOs) before cruising to a third-round stoppage (:27).
“I just listened to my coaches and they told me to be a dog and come forward,” said Dulay. “I thought I had him stopped with that first knockdown after the opening bell, but I didn't want to rush into anything because he has a ton of experience. “I want a rematch with Chris Colbert right away on the April 13 card here at the Armory,” added Dulay. “I got back in camp after that loss, figured out what was wrong, got a nutritionist and moved up to 135 pounds. I feel better than ever, so I'm definitely ready for that rematch.”
In the opening televised bout on FS2, Justin Pauldo (12-1, 6 KOs) scored a first-round knockdown and stoppage (1:17) against Federico Malespina (16-11-2, 2 KOs) who was unable to continue. “I landed a solid straight right hand,” said Pauldo. “I saw him fall back into the ropes and I knew I had him hurt. So, I touched the body and got him out of there quickly.”