By Chet Mills: Still smarting from his close loss to the great Roy Jones Jr. in July 2007, super middleweight Anthony Hanshaw (21-1, 14 KOs) tests his skills against another tough opponent, this one the unbeaten Andre Dirrell (14-0, 9 KOs) tonight at the Chumash Casino, in Santa Ynez, California. Hanshaw, 30, the 1998 National Golden Gloves welterweight champion and the 2000 United States Amateur light middleweight champion, has shown exceptional ability in his short career, beating tough super middleweights like Lafarrell Bunting and Esteban Camou.
Following that, he fought John Paul Mendy to a draw in one of the most exciting fights in 2007. However, his best performance was against Roy Jones Jr., who he fought tooth and nail in their July 2007 bout. Hanshaw looked good in the fight, outworking Jones, then 38, the entire fight and keeping him pinned to the ropes during most of the bout. However, Hanshaw made the mistake of letting his defense lapse for a second and was staggered and then dropped by Jones after he was bumped by him in the 11th round. Despite the knockdown, Hanshaw appeared to win most of the other rounds of the fight, by virtue of keeping Jones trapped on the ropes, absorbing huge punishment from Hanshaw.
As for Dirrell, a former 2004 Olympic bronze medalist has so far been disappointing since turning professional. Although he has excellent hand speed and an airtight defense, his safety-first style of fighting is off putting to say the least. In his toughest fight of his still early career against Curtis Stevens, a televised bout in June 2007, Dirrell stunk up the place with his constant running and avoidance of mixing it up with Stevens. Mostly Dirrell ran from Stevens, staying on a constant move and shooting out his jab.
The crowd hated it immensely and booed continuously but none of the boos changed Dirrell’s style one bit, as he continued to run from Stevens and bore many in the audience. Though he eventually got the decision, Dirrell showed little in the fight and didn’t appear to have the championship material to take him to the next level. Now a year later, it will be interesting to see if Dirrell has listened to his many critics from that night and made changes to his style. It will be tough, because Dirrell has always fought in this manner, making it even tougher for him should he decide to change his style of fighting and became a little more fan friendly but mixing it up a little more often.
Hanshaw won’t make it easy for him, keeping constant pressure on him and forcing him to fight. This won’t be a fight that Dirrell will be able to win by running like he has in the past for Hanshaw makes his opponents earn their keep, keeping them under constant duress. It will be interesting to see if Dirrell can handle that kind of pressure because he’s been matched pretty soft, aside from Stevens, up to his point in his career.
Hanshaw has excellent skills, though he does lack in the department of speed. He makes up for it in power and his constant pressure and it should be an irritant for Dirrell, who hates to be hit. If Hanshaw can keep him on the run and get him pinned against the ropes like he did with Jones, this should be an easy win for Hanshaw.