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Anthony Dirrell vs. Avni Yildrim – preview & prediction

Anthony Dirrell

By Jim Dower: Former WBC super middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell (32-1-1, 24 KOs) and his opponent Avni Yildirim (21-1 12 KOs) both weighed in successfully on Friday for their fight for the vacant WBC 168 lb title on Saturday night on Premier Boxing Champions on Premier Boxing Champions on FS1 at the Minneapolis Armory, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The winner of the Dirrell vs. Yildirim fight will be the new WBC super middleweight champion. But with that belt, the winner will have to face former WBC champion David Benavidez soon. That’ll be a tough fight.

On paper, this is Dirrell’s fight to win. Yildirim has very thin resume when it comes to his opposition he’s faced during his five year pro career.

Yildirim has wins over 46-year-old Lolenga Mock, 46-year-old Glen Johnson, Ryan Ford, Derek Edwards, Marco Antonio Periban, Aaron Pryor Jr., Zoltan Sera, and Janne Forsman. Yildirim was stopped in the third round in October 2017 by Chris Eubank Jr. in the World Boxing Super Series super middleweight tournament in Stuttgart, Germany. That fight was a mismatch. Eubank Jr. showed no respect or the much slower Yildirim, and he just tore into him with blistering combinations that led to a quick knockout in the third round.

Since his loss to Eubank Jr., Yildirim has won his last five fights against largely weak opposition. He’s won, but he’s not faced anyone talented since his defeat at the hands of Eubank Jr.

Dirrell, 34, weighed in at 167 1/2 pounds, and looked in great shin, albeit a little slender at the weight. Yildirim, 27, weighed in at 167.75 lbs. During the face off, the the fighters had a heated exchange after Yildirim reached over to pat Dirrell on his shoulder while he was jawing at him. Dirrell knocked Yildirim’s hand down immediately, and stepped back so that he couldn’t reach him. The two fighters were then kept apart. It’s unknown how much English Yildirim speaks. He’s from Istanbul, Turkey. If Dirrell didn’t understand why Yildirim was saying to him, it might explain why he seemed so heated during their face off.

Former champion Anthony Dirrell and 168-pound contender Avni Yildirim exchanged words at a heated final press conference on Thursday before they battle this Saturday 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.

“He’s getting knocked out. That’s it,” Dirrell said about Yildirim. “He doesn’t have what it takes. I’m just a higher level fighter than him. I’m coming to take him out. Saturday night, I’m taking back what’s mine.”

There’s a very good chance that Dirrell is going to do to Yildirim what Eubank Jr. did in scoring a fast knockout. Dirrell has fast hands and excellent punching power, but he’ll need to throw a flurry of shots if he wants to knock Yildirim out in the same manner that Eubank Jr. did. Just throwing one punch at a time won’t get the job done. Yildirim like fighting at a slow pace where he only has to deal one shot at a time from his opponents.

Dirrell has won his last five fights since losing his WBC super middleweight title to Badou Jack by a 12 round majority decision in April 2015. Dirrell struggled with the pressure that Jack put on him in that fight, and he was eventually exhausted in the second half of the fight. Yildirim will likely be trying to do the same thing to Dirrell that Jack did by putting a lot of pressure on him. Since that loss, Dirrell has beaten these fighters: Abraham Han, Denis Douglin, Norbert Nemesapati, Caleb Truax and Marco Antonio Rubio. Dirrell had a lot of problems recently beating the 30-year-old Douglin by a six round technical decision in November 2017. Dirrell looked like he was falling apart from the pressure that Douglin was putting on him in the same way he came unglued in his fights with Sakio Bika and Jack. If not for Dirrell suffering an injury, he might have lost to Douglin.

“Everybody knows that I’m coming to win that world title,” Yildirim said. “This is my time on Saturday night. I will leave the ring with that belt.”

If Yildirim does win the fight, then it suggests that Dirrell has really slipped with his boxing skills, and he might need to consider retiring. The way that Dirrell looked recently against Denis Douglin showed that he’s lost something from his game. He still should have enough left to do the job on Yildirim, but you never know though. Dirrell should have been able to dominate Douglin, but he didn’t. Dirrell hasn’t had a lot of wars like some fighters, but he still looked like he’d lost a couple of steps against Douglin. That’s a guy that David Benavidez easily knocked out in the 10th round in a one-sided fight August 2016. Dirrell should have been able to do the job on him as well, but he couldn’t. Dirrell still has enough boxing skills to beat Yildirim, and possibly hold onto the WBC for a couple of years, as long as he doesn’t have to face Benavidez.


Dirrell has too much experience, hand speed and punching power for a slow fighter like Yildirim. This fight will likely be over in the first three rounds if Dirrell jumps on Yildirim with a flurry of shots the way that Eubank Jr. did. Yildirim has tons of punching power, but he’s so slow that he can be overwhelmed with punches by the speedier guys. Dirrell will have to make some tweaks to his game for him to get Yildirim out of there, but you can fully expect him to do that on Saturday. You don’t need to study all of Yildirim’s biggest fights in order to come up with a good game plan in how to beat him. Just looking at the Eubank Jr. fight is enough to see that Yildirim is too slow to handle fighters that open up on him with steady combinations. Dirrell has the hand speed and power to get the job done if he fights smart and use his tools.

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