On Saturday night, February 23, Anthony Dirrell of Flint, MI regained the WBC super middleweight championship of the world when he fought for the vacant belt against Avni Yilidrim of Istanbul, Turkey. Dirrell’s record improved to 34-1 (12 KOs), while Yilidrim diminished to 21-2- (12 KOs). The fight was stopped and went to the scorecards during the 10th round because of a cut on Dirrell’s left eye. Dirrell won a split decision. The fight was a slugfest from the beginning.
In the first round, Dirrell seemed to have the upper hand by just a hair, Yilidrim coming forward, catching a few solid shots from Dirrell and not landing quite as much. Yilidrim came back in the second, dominating with effective aggression that resulted in more punches landed.
Dirrell switched up to southpaw in the 3rd, landing a left hand-right hook that changed the momentum, and after he switched back to orthodox boxing, Dirrell landed consistent left jabs and also landed fast, solid head combinations off the ropes.
Yilidrim came back in the 4th round, pressing Dirrell on the ropes and landing the majority of punches. Yilidrim continued this theme in the 5th. In the 6th Yilidrim pressed and won the round, but Dirrell came on strong in the closing 30 seconds, not winning the round but seeming to stem the tide a bit.
Dirrell turned things around in the 7th but finished the round with a cut on his left eye, which referee Mark Nelson declared to be caused by a accidental headbutt. Yilidrin came forward in the 8th, capitalizing on the cut and pummeling Direll repeatedly through the round.
Looking tired in the 9th, Dirrell made a serious effort to come back, obviously not wanting the fight to slip away from him. Dirrell was beginning to dominate in the 10th, was moving well and landing well, and even made a showboating gesture to imply he was using a matador’s cape to tame Yilidrim like a bull, when the fight was stopped because of the cut on Dirrell’s eye.
Dirrell won a split technical decision. The reaction from the crowd was mixed.