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Anthony Dirrell: David Benavidez not what everyone makes him out to be

Dirrell defends the WBC super middleweight title against David Benavidez on Sept. 28.

Leo Wilson/Premier Boxing Champions
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

When Anthony Dirrell returns to action on Sept. 28 against David Benavidez, he’ll be defending the WBC super middleweight title against a young man who previously held and never lost the belt in the ring.

Dirrell, 34, looks to continue a six-fight win streak in the FOX pay-per-view co-feature against the 22-year-old Benavidez, who right now stands as a heavy betting favorite.

Benavidez’s record (21-0, 18 KO) and rather fearsome reputation don’t intimidate Dirrell (33-1-1, 24 KO), who says the young fighter has never faced anyone at his level.

“This is going to be a good fight. David Benavidez is a warrior and I don’t take anything away from him,” Dirrell said at a media workout. “But I know that I have all the tools to beat him. He’s never fought someone like me. Everyone he knocked out, he was supposed to knock out.

”I have everything I need in my arsenal. I’m versatile. I can switch it up if I need to. If I need to sit in the pocket, I can. If I need to box, I can. I just don’t think Benavidez is what everyone makes him out to be.”

Dirrell won the vacant title on Feb. 23, beating Avni Yildirim by technical split decision in Minneapolis, the fight ending in the 10th round due to a cut on Dirrell caused by a head clash in the seventh round.

The title had been stripped from Benavidez, who failed a drug test for cocaine in 2018. He was out of action for 13 months after his dominant rematch win over Ronald Gavril in Feb. 2018, returning this past March to wipe out J’Leon Love in the second round on the Spence-Garcia card.

Dirrell says he’ll go for the knockout in the fight, and is looking to enhance his legacy in the sport.

”I’m going for the knockout. I go for the knockout in every fight,” he said. “If it doesn’t happen, I can still go 12 rounds and come out victorious. This win would build my legacy. Some people expect me to lose, and I’m happy about that. This just takes my career to another level.”

Dirrell says he’s also not worrying about a potential unification fight with IBF titleholder Caleb Plant, who also fights under the PBC banner.

”I’m not looking past this fight. I’m focused on David Benavidez,” he said. “After this fight I can talk about unification or whatever. But first I have to take care of David.”

The native of Flint, Michigan, also says he’s not hung up on his lone career defeat, which came via majority decision against Badou Jack in Apr. 2015.

”A loss is a loss no matter which way you put it. Whether you lose by a mile or half a round,” he said. “That’s in the past and we’re only focused on the future. There’s an undefeated 22-year-old fighter trying to take what I’ve got.”

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