For much of his boxing career, Anthony "The Dog" Dirrell has stood in the shadow of his barely-older brother, Andre, who won bronze at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and came into the pro ranks with much more fanfare and assumed potential. But things don't always work out the way they're mapped, and on Saturday night, little brother has a big chance to become the first of the two to win a world title.
Anthony (26-0, 22 KO) will face Sakio Bika for the WBC super middleweight title on Showtime from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, hoping to win the title his brother nearly (and some would say should have) won back in 2009 when Andre fought Carl Froch in the Super Six World Boxing Classic.
The 29-year-old Anthony Dirrell has generally been seen over his career as the nastier, more powerful, and more aggressive of the brothers, while Andre was considered the more skillful of the pair. Ever since his strange 2010 DQ win against Arthur Abraham, Andre's career has been essentially on ice, as "The Matrix" has fought just two times, beating a pair of easy touches.
Whatever you think of the "brain injury" suffered by Andre, he's been in the ring since that odd night against Abraham, but he's never returned to the world level despite occasional boasts that he would. Anthony, who has beaten cancer and more recently survived a motorcycle accident that put him on the shelf for about four months, still works with Al Haymon, which Andre does not, and thus is in a position for a world title fight, which Andre is not now that he's with promoter Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson as part of a stable that started with a lot of talk and hype and has mostly turned into Yuriorkis Gamboa fighting on undercards for other promoters' shows.
This is a breakout opportunity for Dirrell, who has never really been featured on a major show in this manner. "It feels great to fight at Barclays Center," he said at a media workout yesterday. "It feels good to be on a big card."
After winning an eliminator bout last December against Renan St-Juste, Dirrell had the accident and returned in May of this year with a win over Don Mouton, followed by a July victory over faded veteran Anthony Hanshaw. Bika (32-5-2, 21 KO) is a whole other ball of wax, and by far the best fighter that Dirrell has faced in his career.
Dirrell, though, isn't worried about Bika's experience advantage. "I'm experienced, too," he said. "I've been doing it twenty years. I just know I'm an athlete. I can do it all. That's my plan, do what I want to do. I'm going to go in and do what I need to do to win."
Calling this "one of the hardest training camps" he's had, Dirrell is confident that he's as ready as he's going to get, and that he's in good shape for what should be the biggest challenge of his career.
It's not only a chance for Dirrell to win a world title in his first opportunity, as well as stay unbeaten and get into the mix at 168 pounds, but it's an opportunity for him to escape what remains of Andre's shadow.