Anthony Dirrell was stifled in his bid to move closer to another world title shot when held to a stalemate by Kyrone Davis at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Hall in Los Angeles.
The two-time super-middleweight champion nicknamed “The Dog’’ and tough contender “Shut It Down’’ Davis battled to a hard-fought 12-round split draw in a WBC Super Middleweight title elimination match in the main event of FOX PBC Fight Night this Saturday night.
It was a tactical match as both boxers displayed superb skills, battling from a distance and in close quarters. Dirrell landed the more accurate shots, but Davis matched his work rate on offense. As the fight wore on, it became a question of whether the wily veteran, Dirrell, would be able to drag the younger man, Davis, out into deep waters and sink him. Davis didn’t let that happen, making Dirrell work for everything he got in the fight.
In the end, neither man was the clear-cut winner. Judge Patrick Russell scored it 115-113 for Dirrell. Judge Lou Moret scored 115-113 for Davis, and Judge Zachary Young had it 114-114 even.
“I thought I won the fight. I pushed the fight, hit him with cleaner punches,” Dirrell said. “He hit gloves a lot. I knew it would be a draw—as soon as they said it would be a split decision. But I can’t control what the judges do, and I respect them because they have different perspectives and angles on what is happening.
“I was pressing the fight. I wasn’t tired at all. My jab was working. But I can’t stop what the judges think. Davis fought well. He did what he was supposed to, came in with a good game plan. He was boxing, and he normally doesn’t do that. But we pressed the action.”
There was something extra on the line for the fight winner – a shot at the WBC Super Middleweight title. The 36-year-old Dirrell (33-2-2, 24 KOs), a two-time WBC 168-pound champion, had the edge in experience over the 26-year-old Davis, who was fighting for the first time at 168 pounds.
The younger brother of Andre Dirrell, a bronze medalist for the 2004 U.S. Olympic boxing team, Dirrell was coming off a hard-fought loss to former champion David Benavidez. Dirrell of Flint, Michigan, has cleared several hurdles in his life, including surviving cancer and a horrendous motorcycle accident. He was looking at this as his path back to the championship ranks. And he still is.
“I’m looking for a title, and I’m not looking for just another fight. I’m looking for a big fight. That’s the plan,” Dirrell said. “I’ll take whoever has a belt, whoever we can get. I’ll take a Canelo or a Caleb Plant.”
Davis (15-2-1, 6 KOs) stepped up to his career’s biggest challenge in taking on Dirrell. The most notable victory of his career had come against Marcos Hernandez in 2017. Hernandez was undefeated at the time. In the early rounds against Dirrell, Davis of Wilmington, Delaware seemed hesitant but settled in as the fight rolled to the middle rounds. He pressed the action at times, but it wasn’t enough to convince two of the judges to give him the decision.
“I thought I won the fight, 116-112. It was a great opportunity. They doubted me. They told me he was going to knock me out. This was supposed to be a showcase for him, but it wasn’t,” Davis said. “My body felt well. I felt good. Anthony Dirrell is a two-time world champion. I really wanted to make a statement. A draw is not as bad as a loss, but I really don’t like breaking even.
“It was my first 12-rounder, so it was a little unfamiliar for me. I knew he was experienced. But I kept my composure and pushed through it. I stuck to the game plan that (trainer) Stephen “Breadman” Edwards gave me.”
In the co-feature, 19-year-old rising welterweight star Jesus Ramos (15-0, 14 KOs) looked sharp in scoring a stunning second-round KO victory over Jesús Emilio Bojórquez (24-3, 18 KOs). The precocious Ramos, the nephew of welterweight boxer Abel Ramos, landed a sharp right hook that dropped Bojórquez of Sonora, Mexico, and opened a cut along with his nose early second round. Bojórquez beat the count but was unsteady on his feet. Ramos opened up on Bojórquez as he pinned his foe against the ropes, and referee Thomas Taylor stepped in and stopped the fight at 1:44 of the second round.
“I was surprised he got up from that right hook. I was setting it up, throwing my jab to the body,” Ramos said. “But I knew he was expecting another jab. I feinted and came back with the right hook. I didn’t think he would get up, but he did, and then I finished the job. This was a test run [at 147].
“I felt really strong. The weight cut was a lot smoother this time around. So I might campaign here. I have to talk to my team and see what they think.
“I want to be a champion at 21 years of age. That would be next year. I want to step up the competition this year, fight guys with names, and next year fight guys like Yordenis Ugas.”
Ramos’s uncle, Abel, lost a split decision to Ugas last September.
In the televised opener, sensational welterweight prospect Vito Mielnicki, Jr. (8-0, 5 KOs), displaying good poise, patience, and power, scored an impressive KO victory over Jalisco, Mexico’s Nóe López (10-4-1, 4 KOs) when referee Gerard White stopped the contest at 2:50 of the third round. In the second, the 18-year-old Mielnicki floored López when he rolled under a lazy jab and landed a lightning-quick straight right hand that dropped López on the seat of his pants.
The 34-year-old López rose at the count of six by referee Gerald White. Mielnicki of Roseland, N.J. picked up the pace and continued to pound Noe in the third round. He landed a barrage of hard punches at will that frame, forcing White to call a halt to the assault with 10 seconds remaining in the round, handing Mielnicki the stoppage victory.
“I felt strong tonight. I don’t know how long I’ll be at 147. Moving up may be in my future. For this fight, I give myself an ‘A.’ I got him out of there, a guy who said he was a step-up, a guy who they said would carry me into the later rounds. But I expect nothing less of myself because I know I’m going to be great,’’ Mielnicki said.
“I’m just going to keep learning. I’m still young. You know, I’m still 18, so we’re not in a rush. We’re going to keep building and see where that takes us. I’m 8-0 with 5 knockouts, and I’m not injured or anything, so I’m ready to get back in the ring as soon as possible.”
In other televised action, rising Dominican super lightweight prospect Michel Rivera (20-0, 13 KOs) pounded Arecibo, Puerto Rico’s Anthony Mercado (13-5, 11 KOs) and scored a TKO victory when referee Edward Collantes stopped the fight at 2:26 of the eighth round. Anthony Cuba (1-0-1, 1 KO) and Diego Elizondo (3-2-3) fought to a four-round majority draw.
TGB Promotions promoted the event.