Two of boxing’s top super middleweights will be back in action on April 29, when the Premier Boxing Champions Series presents a double header featuring the Dirrell brothers at the Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City. Older brother Andre (24-2, 16 KOs) will face once-beaten Blake Caparello (22-1-1, 6 KOs) while younger brother Anthony (28-1-1, 22 KOs) faces former title-challenger Caleb Truax (26-2-2, 16 KOs).
The Dirrell brother have been on the radar for boxing fans since their amateur days. Anthony won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics. Both brothers have also dealt with serious medical concerns, only to rebound and stake their claims to top-10 status at 168 pounds.
Andre was a participant in the historic Showtime Super Six tournament, launched in 2009. In the first round, Dirrell lost a split decision to Carl Froch in Nottingham, England. The fight smelled strongly of “home cooking.” I had Dirrell clearly winning.
Dirrell beat Arthur Abraham by DQ in the next round of the tournament. In a fight that he was winning handily, Abraham knocked him out with a punch to the jaw, after Dirrell had slipped and fallen to a knee. The punch caused neurological problems for Dirrell, forcing him out of action for over a year and most of the next three years. But in 2014, he came back strong and won three fights.
Last May, he faced James DeGale for the vacant IBF belt. After getting knocked down twice in Round 2, Dirrell fought back heroically but couldn’t quite close the gap and lost a narrow decision.
Younger brother Anthony is a cancer survivor, losing all of 2007 and most of 2008 from active competition while he underwent chemo. In December 2012, he challenged Sakio Bika for the WBC belt and drew in a brawl. He won the rematch with Bika by unanimous decision in another tough scrap in August 2014, to claim the belt. He dropped the title in his first defense, via majority decision, to Badou Jack.
Both brothers are facing credible opponents. Truax has lost just twice. Former champion Jermain Taylor beat him in 2009 and Daniel Jacobs knocked him out last April when he challenged for the WBA middleweight belt. Caparello, an Australian, has been defeated only by light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev.