America’s Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell proved there’s plenty of bite to go with his bark when he scored a victory over Australia’s Sakio Bika in their WBC super middleweight world title fight in Los Angeles.
Dirrell, who showered Bika with trash-talk in the lead-up to the re-match after their December draw, won a unanimous points decision at the outdoor StubHub Center on Saturday.
Bika’s loss continued a horror month for Australian boxers in the US, with middleweights Daniel Geale and Jarrod Fletcher and light heavyweight Blake Caparello all knocked out in world title fights.
Bika, who stayed on his feet for the 12 rounds, rocked Dirrell a couple of times and lost by only one point on judge Steve Morrow’s scorecard, but to his disappointment he relinquished his prized WBC belt.
For Dirrell, the victory capped off a long journey.
The 29-year-old from Flint, Michigan, found a lump on his chest in 2006 and was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
He beat that, but in 2012 broke his leg in a motorcycle accident.
“Coming off cancer and the motorcycle accident, I knew nothing could stop me,” Dirrell said.
Cameroon-born, Sydney-based Bika won the WBC title in June last year in New York with a majority decision over Mexican Marco Antonio Periban.
Dirrell apologised after the fight for the derogatory remarks he made to Bika before the re-match.
At Friday’s weigh-in Dirrell hurled abuse while Bika was doing a TV interview and Dirrell’s entourage barked like dogs.
“Bika’s a hell of a fighter,” Dirrell said.
“Everything I said at the press conference was just promoting the fight.
“I didn’t mean it.”
In December’s draw Bika was the aggressor, but in the re-match Dirrell ran at Bika at the opening bell and stunned him with a right hand.
Bika withstood the initial onslaught and in his physical, mauling style took the fight back to Dirrell, jolting the Michigan fighter with some heavy blows in the middle rounds.
Dirrell also answered with some straight right hands on Bika who was penalised a point in the eighth round for a low blow.
Judges Dave Moretti, Burt Clements and Morrow scored the fight 117-110, 116-111 and 114-113 respectively to Dirrell.
Dirrell moves to a 27 win (22 knockout), one draw, professional record.
Bika drops to a 32 win (21 KO), six loss, three draw record.