Super middleweight Andre Dirrell will face Derek Edwards in a world title elimination bout on Dec. 19 at the Pepsi Coliseum in Quebec City, Showtime announced on Tuesday.
The fight will serve as the Showtime-televised co-feature on a quadrupleheader headlined by light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson (24-1, 20 KOs) in a title defense against Dmitry Sukhotsky (22-2, 16 KOs).
“I’m excited to be back on the fast track and I’m ready to show that this is definitely where I belong,” said Dirrell, who will be fighting for the third time in five months after having had only two fights between his 11th-round disqualification victory (in which he was injured) against Arthur Abraham in March 2010 and last July. “It takes time to move back to the top, but I like to improve myself each time I step into the gym. I almost feel like I’ve been overworking myself in the gym to prove that I’m back. But I feel like I’m there and ready for a title shot, and when the time comes to prove that I’m ready, I won’t leave any doubt.”
The Dirrell-Edwards winner will move a step closer to becoming the mandatory challenger for one of the 168-pound world titles held by England’s Carl Froch.
In 2009, Dirrell (23-1, 16 KOs), 31, of Flint, Michigan, lost a split decision to Froch in his hometown of Nottingham, England, during the Super Six World Boxing Classic and has wanted a rematch since.
“I know I won that fight against Froch,” Dirrell said. “I think everyone knows I won that fight. He’s the one opponent I want and the fact that he’s a world champion again is just icing on the cake. I don’t think I’ve ever been defeated and I want that title shot. Hopefully, he doesn’t retire because I know the world wants to see that rematch.
“I want to fight the best at 168. I want to unify the division, but if my brother [titleholder Anthony Dirrell] does that first, then I will move up to 175. I have a lot of work to do in a little amount of time. I want to fight for about five more years and if Anthony runs me out at 168, then I’ll go up to 175.”
Edwards (27-3-1, 14 KOs), 34, of Las Vegas, does not figure to be a formidable opponent. He is 2-3-1 in his last six fights and it is surprising that the IBF would approve him for an elimination bout for its No. 2 ranking. But he is coming off an upset first-round knockout of Badou Jack on Feb. 8.
“I know he’s going to be at his best when he steps in the ring on Dec. 19,” Dirrell said of Edwards. “He’s been in some tough fights, but I don’t think we’ve seen the best from him yet. I’m not worried about anything but getting the job done and I know I will when the time comes.”
One of the recent losses by Edwards came by third-round knockout to Stevenson, before Stevenson won the world title at 175 pounds.
“I’m definitely confident going in against Andre,” Edwards said. “He’s a different fighter than Jack. He had a good amateur background and fought some of the best super middleweights in the Super Six, but I see some things I can exploit in Andre. I know I’ll need to force the action on him and be the aggressor.
“A win like this would put a lot of other fighters on notice, let guys know that I can deal with the speed of a fighter like Andre and the power of a guy like Jack. And it would give me the confidence to fight anyone. I’ve never been this motivated for a fight. A win like this would put a lot of things on the table, open up a lot of doors and opportunities. It’s definitely the biggest fight of my life.”
Also on the card, Jo Jo Dan (33-2, 18 KOs) and Kevin Bizier (23-1, 16 KOs) meet in a welterweight title eliminator that will put the winner in position to be the mandatory challenger for titlist Kell Brook. In 2013, Dan beat Bizier by split decision. In the opening bout, two-time Russian Olympian Artur Beterbiev (6-0, 6 KOs), one of boxing’s most ferocious prospects, faces Jeff Page Jr. (15-0, 10 KOs) in a 10-rounder.