Anthony Dirrell has had his share of near tragedies.
The former WBC super middleweight titlist is a cancer survivor, recovered from a broken arm and leg in a motorcycle accident, and was looking to further his comeback by stomping on shopworn veteran Marco Antonio Rubio on the Premier Boxing Champions show from the American Bank Center, in Corpus Christi, Texas, on Sunday.
Where “The Dog” goes after pounding on the game Rubio (59-8-1, 52 KOs) for 10 rounds is anyone’s guess, but at least it got Dirrell some good work and film to break down in winning a unanimous decision.
Dirrell (28-1-1, 22 KOs) needed to remain relevant, after losing the WBC super middle belt in a majority-decision loss to Badou Jack in April.
That’s a query that won’t be answered off of this.
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Because if you saw one round of Dirrell-Rubio, you saw them all. Rubio, who hadn’t fought in 11 months since being knocked out in two rounds against Gennady Golovkin, was stepping up in weight class and had some jiggle in his middle. He did little but get served up as a human punching bag, and all three judges, Levi Martinez, Oren Shellenberger and Glen Rick Crocker, saw it, giving Dirrell the easy 100-90 victory on their scorecards.
The fight had more the feel of an exhibition, though Rubio was pretty marked up with bruises circling his left eye.
Still afterward, Dirrell did the perfunctory elite-fighter call out.
When asked if he feels in position to go for another world title, Dirrell said, “Definitely, I had an off-night when I fought Badou, but everyone saw tonight my jabs, my straight punches and I was moving. I was really catching him. I deserve another shot.”
Dirrell looked as if he had to put more energy into his post-fight backflip than he did in starching the hapless Rubio.
In the co-feature, Jamie McDonnell (27-2-1, 12 KOs) retained the WBA bantamweight title from challenger Tomoki Kameda (31-1, 19 KOs) with a 12-round unanimous decision. The fight was a rematch from May, in which McDonnell came off the canvas in the third to win a close unanimous decision.
According to the judges, there was a larger disparity this time around. Steve Weisfeld had it 117-110 for McDonnell, while judges Jesse Reyes (116-111) and Glenn Feldman (115-112) also had it for the 29-year-old Brit, who was defending the title for the third time.
There was one knockdown in the 12th, registered by McDonnell, who landed a right that caught Kameda behind the left ear. It was a flash knockdown that didn’t hurt Kameda. In fact, it could have arguably been a slip, but it was McDonnell’s punch that caused it.
Throughout most of the fight, however, Kameda seemed to control the tempo and distance. Despite giving away three inches in height and six inches in reach to the 5–10 McDonnell (who has a 72-inch reach in comparison to Kameda’s 66-inch reach), the Mexico City-based Japanese fighter was able to get inside and work his power shots. Through five rounds, Kameda landed 48 of 144 heavy shots (33-percent) to McDonnell’s 32 of 118 power connects (27-percent).
By the sixth, however, some swelling began building under Kameda’s right eye. Still, it was Kameda that appeared to be the more effective fighter, countering McDonnell’s shots while staying away from anything substantial.
Sensing he could lose the title, McDonnell did pick up the pressure in the latter rounds. The 10th, 11th and final round could have arguably went to the champ. In the first minute of the 10th, McDonnell backed Kameda up with a stiff jab that landed right on Kameda’s forehead. If anything won it, it was McDonnell’s jab. He worked well behind it in the championship rounds, forcing Kameda to fight off his heels.
At around 1:37 left in the 12th, McDonnell hit Kameda with a money punch, which was aided by Kameda’s right leg slipping underneath him. Referee Jon Schorle made the right call, calling it a knockdown. Schorle reached the count of eight and Kameda, who was very aware, made McDonnell pay with a left.
Yet the final result caught a few by surprise, including the ringside commentators.
“No, I’m not surprised with the decision, the plan was to box him and hit him with some big shots as he came in,” said McDonnell, who now has a 19-fight winning streak, and last lost to Lee Haskins in March 2008. “To be fair, the fight felt easier than the last one. I felt in control. I think I threw the jab more than anything. I felt in control all the way through. When I dropped him in the last round, he slipped a little bit. But I did catch him.”
Needless to say, Kameda was stunned.
“I thought I won this fight more clearly than I won the last fight (against McDonnell),” Kameda said through an interpreter. “I thought I had the right plan.”
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