Tonight's ShoBox double-header from the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, Calif., was eventful if a bit anti-climactic.
In the main event, Anthony Dirrell improved to 24-0 (21 KO) with a fourth round injury stoppage of Canada's Renan St-Juste (23-3-1, 15 KO). The finishing sequence was odd, but legit. The two clashed heads badly, sending Dirrell briefly to the mat and St-Juste stumbling away a bit.
After a quick break, Dirrell came out firing away on St-Juste, who almost tackled Dirrell, and then came up lame with a dislocated left shoulder. It was tough to tell when it happened, but a Showtime replay found that moment, which came when the heads had clashed.
It's not a perfect win for Dirrell, but the 27-year-old brother of Andre did look to mostly be in control of the fight, and his power and reach advantages were giving St-Juste some serious problems. My gut feeling is that we were on our way to a Dirrell victory, but it was a fight where it seemed like either man could land a game-changing bomb at any moment.
The win gives Dirrell mandatory status as challenger for the WBC title, currently held by Carl Froch. After the fight, Dirrell, his brother Andre, and their uncle Leon Lawson Sr were caught arguing just a bit over who would fight which top contender next. It was, well, interesting. "Bute!" "I want Bute!" "No, no! Anthony gets Bute!" "No!" "Super Six winner bring that trophy!"
In the super bantamweight co-feature, Colombian Jhonatan Romero scored a minor upset of Chris Avalos, winning a split decision on scores of 96-93, 96-94, and 94-95. Bad Left Hook scored the fight 95-94 for Avalos, but either man winning up to a 96-93 card seemed acceptable, and it was surprisingly good scoring considering it felt for all the world like a fight where a 98-91 Avalos card would turn up against all logic.
Avalos (19-2, 15 KO) had the same problems he's always had. He can be easily befuddled by guys who move around the ring, which Romero (20-0, 12 KO) did, he's defensively negligent, and he's got only one gear on offense. Plus, it doesn't look like his power is sticking with him, and his stamina, while not an incredible issue for him, just isn't great.
Romero did his best work countering, and pot-shotting the plodding Avalos. Avalos did his best work pressuring, but he didn't land a whole lot of really clean shots, and most of the eye-catching blows came from Romero.
Neither man, to be honest, looked like a potential world class fighter in this one, and it would be a surprise if either of them became a top contender. Avalos is a fun TV fighter, but he also works best going up against guys who are also eager to engage and fight it out.