Undefeated super middleweight Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell (22-0,19 KOs) and Kevin “The Hitman” Engel (18-4,1 ND,15 KOs) will tangle in a 10-round main event on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights from Morongo Casino Resort in Cabazon California on July 22 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN 3D and ESPN3.com.
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Dirrell, who has won 10 consecutive bouts since returning to the sport in 2008 after an 18-month battle with cancer, was supposed to face former super middleweight champion Alejandro Berrio, but Berrio was replaced by ex- WBF Light Heavyweight Intercontinental titleholder Engel, who started his career 13-0, but has lost two of his last three fights, prompting many of the sport’s experts to point out his lack of any real notable wins.
But the 31-year-old did make headlines with his losses to Dallas Vargas, Edwin Rodriguez, and his most recent against Marcus Johnson on Nov. 11, 2010, when Engel was stunned twice before the referee stopped the beating in the third round.
However, , Engel has had enough time to prepare both mentally and physically for his bout against Dirrell , and will be hungry to pull off the same kind of upset he launched on rising young contender Darryl Cunningham, beating him in a unanimous decision in an eight-round bloodbath in 2007.
Meanwhile, Flint, Michigan’s Dirrell, the younger brother of 2004 Olympic bronze medalist and super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell, has strung together 10 wins in his last 10 fights, (seven that have ended in a knockout), including a fifth-round KO win over 2000 U.S. Olympian Dante Craig his last time in the ring.
Despite a good effort from Craig, Dirrell took control of the fight early on, landing solid shots to body and head. His jab was effective, and his combinations were sharp.
In round five Dirrell caught Craig with a hard body shot which sent the visitor down for the count. Time of stoppage was 1:50 of round five. It was Dirrell’s first professional championship as the 26-year old picked up the vacant UBO super middleweight belt with that victory.
Still, some say that Dirrell is not as good his brother. I say he has had some good amateur experience, is a solid fighter, throws a lot of punches and shows up to fight. However, with Dirrell’s matches ending so quickly, it’s got to be a tough task for his camp to try to figure out his weaknesses, which Engel will come prepared to expose.
Matt’s Free Prediction
Sometimes the best motivation for a boxer is the humiliation of a defeat. Something the “The Hitman” has in his corner, and will probably bomb with Dirrell early before finding out he can’t win. Dirrell is a far cry from his older brother, but is a better puncher. He’s yet to step up in class, and this won’t really be the fight where he does, either, but he will perform well enough to notch the win by decision.
The co-main will feature Lanard Lane (12-1, 7 KOs) against knockout king Joseph Elegele (12-0, 10 KOs) in a welterweight 10-rounder.
While on the undercard, Austin, Texas’s undefeated Kurtiss Colvin (5-0, 4 KOs) will face Long Beach, Calif.’s Cleveland Ishe (3-1, 1 KO) in a middleweight four-rounder; Philadelphia’s Julian Williams (6-0-1, 4 KOs) will take on Bakersfield, CA. Raul Rodriguez (2-5-1, 1 KO) in a junior middleweight six-rounder; undefeated Californian Marcus Robinson (3-0) will go against Mexico’s Mario Evangelista (3-9, 3 KOs) over six junior middleweight rounds; San Ardo, Ca’s undefeated Roman Morales (4-0, 3 KOs) will face Santa Rosa, Ca’s Juan Tepoz (4-5-1) in a featherweight four-rounder; and Palmdale, Ca’s DonYil Livingston (4-0, 2 KOs) will face an opponent that is still TBA in a middleweight four-rounder.