To those that were impatient with the progress of 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell, it may be time to back off.
Dirrell, the ambidexterous hitter with quick hands but a slower career progress arc, stepped up and stepped over respectable vet Anthony Hanshaw in the main event of a ShoBox broadcast from the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California on Friday evening.
The super middleweight Dirrell took a little while to get his bearings, but he got the juices flowing by the fifth, when he had Hanshaw in serious trouble on the ropes, and forced the referee Pat Russell to halt the bout at 1:13 of the round.
The 25-year-old Dirrell, from Michigan, rose to 16-0, with 11 KOs. Hanshaw, out of Ohio, dropped to 21-2-1. The 30-year-old has a draw to JP Mendy, a loss to Roy Jones and now a loss to Dirrell on his resume, and it has to be a demoralizing juncture in his life. Fight fans must note how much more impressive Dirrell looked against Hanshaw than Jones. Though of course, there would be no way that Jones could ever be convinced to let the impressive youth have a crack at him.
Hanshaw came out bombing right away in the first. He landed and it looked like Dirrell hit the deck but the ref said there was no knockdown. Dirrell started popping the jab and got his wits about him. Dirrell landed a left hook and Hanshaw struck with a right at the close of the round. FYI, that "no knockdown" was the wrong call, the replay showed after the round; a right hand sent Dirrell to his knee.
In the second, Dirrell started out lefty, whereas in the first he was a righty. The small ring (18x18) looked to be in Hanshaw's favor, as the better-moving Dirrell didn't have as much room to operate. Dirrell then went right, and I liked the look of his jab from that stance. Then again, from the lefty stance, his lead left is an effective shot.
In the third, the third-year pro Dirrell came out lefty, then quickly went right-handed. I say pick one and stick with it, but hey....Back righty, he put together a body centered combo. He then went ballistic with a flurry, and back lefty, he fired a straight left that scored. Hanshaw started looking worried and wasn't so quick to come forward. By now it looked like Dirrell had warmed up, got the lay of the land regarding the small ring, and was ready to pull away.
In the fourth, Hanshaw looked spooked. He knew by now Dirrell's hand were dangerous-quick and was hesitant to throw for fear of being caught in a counter. Both men had a trickle of blood from their nose by now. Two straight lefts sent Hanshaw to the floor at the end of the round. A replay showed that Dirrell had him hurt but finished the knock with a shove.
In the fifth, Hanshaw had Dirrell on the ropes but even there, Dirrell slipped and dipped out of trouble, and then talked back with a fierce flurry. Dirrell loaded up and had Hanshaw hurting. He was now on the ropes, and caught a ferocious left hook-right hand combo that almost sent him down. He held on, or tried to, but Dirrell shoved him off, and got back to work. The ref saw that Hanshaw's defenses were down, and stepped in to stop the contest.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV