Former super middleweight titlist Anthony Dirrell is no quitter. He overcame cancer and won a 168-pound world title. A badly broken leg in a motorcycle accident, too.
So a little old loss in a boxing match isn't about to keep him down.
That’s Dirrell’s mentality as he looks to get back on the winning track against former middleweight contender Marco Antonio Rubio when they meet in a scheduled 10-round super middleweight bout in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on Sunday (CBS, 4 p.m. ET) at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Thirteen months ago, Dirrell (27-1-1, 22 KOs) won a hard-fought unanimous decision against Sakio Bika in a rematch of their draw to claim a world title. But Dirrell, 30, of Flint, Michigan, lost it by majority decision in his first defense against Badou Jack on April 24 in Chicago.
"I was flat last fight. No excuses,” said Dirrell, the younger brother of fellow 168-pound contender Andre Dirrell. “Everyone has their days. You can't pick and choose. It just happens. Anybody that knows me knows that I don't fight like that. It's in the past, and I'm ready to fight Rubio.”
Dirrell is the heavy favorite against Rubio (59-7-1, 51 KOs), 35, of Mexico, who is moving up in weight and fighting for the first time since getting blasted out in the second round by middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin 11 months ago. He is smaller, slower and has been in many more tough fights than Dirrell.
"I know Rubio is a great fighter. He's fought the big names and he's a great veteran,” Dirrell said. “I'm excited to get in the ring with him.
"I did some more sparring earlier in the camp and that got me into a good rhythm. I'm sharp now and our plan has worked great. Now it's just about bringing it to the ring on fight day and putting on a show. I'm looking to go out there and do what I do, which is send people to the doghouse. Whether it's a statement or not, I just want the victory."
Rubio did not make weight for the fight with Golovkin. He said he trained better for the fight with Dirrell and that he will be better off in the heavier weight class.
“I have put all my effort into this training camp,” Rubio said. “We're prepared to fight Dirrell. He's tall, he's strong and he's very difficult in the ring. I have prepared the way I was supposed to. I love the challenge of a tough opponent.
"I was physically tired after my last fight after so many years in boxing. I always knew I would come back, because boxing is my life. I've been working for five months to get back in shape and I am in great shape. It was hard to make 160 for the last two or three fights. I left too much in the sauna to make weight. But now at 168 I feel great. This won't affect my punching power. It's something new that I'm looking forward to.”
In the co-feature, England’s Jamie McDonnell (26-2-1, 12 KOs) will defend his secondary bantamweight world title against Tomoki Kameda (31-1, 19 KOs), of Japan, in a rematch of McDonnell’s 114-113 across the board decision win in an action-packed fight on May 9.