Dirrell / Yildirim & Jamal James bring the house down in Minneapolis!

What started out as a ho-hum night of fights eventually picked up and of course because this is boxing we had some controversy by night’s end. The main event was contested for David Benavidez’s WBC belt he was stripped of, in a razor-close championship bout either fighter deserved to get their hand raised. A patient beginning for Anthony Dirrell led to upper cuts that got Avni Vildirim’s attention in the first. Both guys came out firing right at the bell in the 2nd as Vildirim pushed forward for most of the round cornering Dirrell on the ropes enough to get the nod. The third featured high-paced action, Vildirim getting the better of the inside work while Dirrell was sharp with his jab in a swing round. Another spirited round in the fourth, Avni crowded Anthony on the ropes, Dirrell fired return shots off the ropes.

Plenty of crude aggression by Avni couldn’t match the cleaner punches by Dirrell in the 5th. In the sixth Dirrell let loose repeatedly with upper cuts to the midsection to counter Avni’s roundhouse rights. Dirrell went back to attacking the pit of the stomach in the 7th round, on top of numerous flush rights to the head. Dirrell’s left eye was cut by an accidental head butt.

Both guys were really laying it on the line for what will probably be a meeting with David Benavidez later in the year. Steady work by Yildirim earned him the ninth and Dirrell seem to do enough to win part of the 10th until it was stopped by the referee on instructions from the doctor. A mix of boos and cheers rained down at the Armory as the scorecards were announced. One judge saw it wide for Avni Vildirim 98-92 and the other two had it 96-94 for Anthony Dirrell giving him the victory. Dirrell had lost this same WBC strap to Badou Jack back in 2015.

The co-feature matched hometown favorite Jamal James versus Janer Gonzalez. The Minneapolis native landed many down the pipe right hands in the first. The 2nd frame was closer, Gonzalez scored with compact left hooks. Jamal James was active early in the third but Gonzalez stole the round with bigger shots in the last minute. In the 5th, well-timed straight rights were finding a home from James behind a steady jab. The sixth was the best round of the fight action-wise a body shot by James dropped Janer before the 10 second mark with a right upper cut. Gonzalez’s corner had seen enough, Janer was unable to answer the bell for the 7th round.

The opening bout for the PBC on FS1 included Marcos Hernandez and Jeison Rosario in a middleweight rematch.

Trainer Henry Ramirez was in Marcos’s corner as he edged a close first round. Rosario landed a couple stern rights over Hernandez’s jab and body shots in the second round. Rosario busier early and midway but it was Hernarnedez closing the stronger of the two in the 3rd. Rosario was letting go of meaningful left hooks to the head and body, Jeison won round the fourth but Marcos landed in spots. The 5th round had the best back and forth action of the bout but it was apparent Rosario’s body work was adding up. Hernandez won the 6th and 7th with short uppercuts on inside. In the 8th round Jeison Rosario got back to landing overhand rights regaining the momentum nicely. Hernandez was dropped and hurt with a Rosario sweeping left hook, the bout was stopped after a flurry of punches on the ropes at the 2:45 mark of the 9th round.

Bryant Perrella and Briedis Prescott met in a welterweight crossroads fight. Perrella measured with the jab early and often while Prescott made his few shots count, Perrella used his jab to keep Prescott off balanced for most of the contest. Prescott turned up the heat in the third, both fighters connected during a few exchanges but it was Bryant landing the bigger shots. In the 4th round several hard lefts froze Prescott, Perrella getting cornered to the ropes but able to punch and pivot his way out of trouble in the 5th round.

In the 6th round Perrella pumped his jab which kept Breidis at bay for the most part and Prescott failed to cut the ring off for the remainder rounds. Perrella moved to 16-2 winning a unanimous decision 79-73, 79-73, & 78-74.

1-loss Austin Dulay faced Yardley Cruz in a lightweight bout that’s best described as target practice for Dulay. The 2nd round saw Dulay landing clean pot shots from time to time. A quick flurry on the ropes in the opening moments of the third round ended this one via technical stoppage.

Leon Lawson III whitewashed Yunier Calzada with a fairly active jab until last part of the first round, when he landed a few hard rights. Lawson used his natural reach throughout this 154-pound bout Calzada turned his back resulting in a technical knockdown in round 3. Counter rights and upper cuts for Lawson the rest of the way helped him cruise to any easy 6-round unanimous victory.

Efetobor Apochi made quick work of Raymund Ochieng in a heavyweight scrap. Apochi landed flush shots on the inside of a lunging Ochieng. In the 2nd round short crosses landed by Apochi may have caused a slip or trip instead of legit knockdown. In the end it wouldn’t matter as Efe used a hard right hand for the 2nd knockdown and counter right for a third and final knockdown resulting in a technical-knockout.

An aggressive start for middleweight prospect Money Powell IV (9-0) in the early goings but Javier Frazier showed he was game by landing back to the head and body. Powell dug to the body in the 2nd and landed an impressive right hand late that had Frazier stumbling while attempting to get up. Good stoppage from an experienced referee, in the interview post fight Money proceeded to place his order with Pizza Hut.

Justin Pauldo (12-1) took care of late-replacement Federico Malespina at the lightweight division with a series of body punches in the first round.

140-pound Omar Juarez (now 2-0) finished off Phillip Percy with a left hook to the head and a few solid left hooks to the body for a 2nd round TKO. After the main event a swing fight was won by welterweight prospect Willie Jones who blitzed Gonzalo Dallera in the first round.

Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at  www.blogtalkradio.com/ ropeadoperadio & Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio.