In a match-up of top super middleweight prospects, undefeated 2004 Olympic bronze medalist Andre Dirrell (14-0, nine KOs) will take on once-beaten Anthony Hanshaw (21-1-1, 14 KOs) in a 10-round showdown Friday, May 2, live on SHOWTIME (ShoBox: The New Generation, 11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
In the co-feature, the promising and once-beaten Antonio DeMarco (18-1-1, 13 KOs) will take on undefeated Juan Castaneda (12-0, nine KOs) in an eight-round lightweight bout.
The SHOWTIME event will be promoted by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC and originate from the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif.
Dirrell, who won the bronze medal at the Athens Olympic Games, will continue his recent step-up in opposition. The hard-hitting southpaw is coming off of a third-round TKO over Shannon Miller on Feb. 1, 2008.
According to Dirrell’s trainer and grandfather, Leon Lawson, the former Olympian and 24-year-old Flint, Mich., native is ready for the next step.
“Andre has looked good with everyone he steps in the ring with,” said Lawson, who also trains Andre’s brother and fellow undefeated super middleweight prospect, Anthony. “He has been sparring with the best, and I know he can fight with the best.”
In June 2007, Dirrell faced his toughest opponent to date when he scored a 10-round unanimous decision over fellow prospect Curtis Stevens on national television. The fans and many at ringside voiced their displeasure at the lack of action throughout the contest.
“A lot of the fans know that wasn’t me, but people are going to criticize,” Dirrell said. “I can understand how everybody felt about the fight, but that wasn’t me that night. They will see a lot better performance from me this time.”
Dirrell has studied Hanshaw’s fights on tape in preparation for their upcoming bout.
“I am just going to keep Hanshaw on the outside and put my punches together,” Dirrell said. “I will come away with a good outcome and a really good, crowd-pleasing performance. Just look out for a new Andre.”
Currently training at the Police Athletic League Gym in Winter Haven, Fla., Dirrell praised his upcoming opponent.
“Hanshaw is a good fighter. I have known him since the amateurs, and remember that he won five or six Ohio State Fair championships. Nobody else had done that. He is going to be my toughest opponent yet. There is no doubt about it.”
Hanshaw, a once-beaten legitimate prospect of Warren, Ohio, has an impressive training regimen of his own. He has been training in Houston, Texas, with 2003 World Boxing Hall of Fame Trainer of the Year Ronnie Shields.
Despite the fact that his upcoming opponent won a bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics, Hanshaw said that his resume is more impressive.
“Dirrell is up and coming, but he is going to be a little bit too small,” Hanshaw said. “I am going to be too strong for him, especially with me coming back down from light heavyweight to my natural weight.
“Dirrell is a runner, but I’m going to be right on him. He still fights like an amateur. After I slow him down with the body shots, I’ll knock him out in the sixth or seventh round.”
Under the tutelage of Shields, the 30-year-old Hanshaw is in good company. The former three-time light welterweight Golden Glove Champion has trained Mike Tyson, Vernon Forrest, Pernell Whitaker and Evander Holyfield.
“Shields and I have been working on what we are going to do, and I’m going to be right there in Dirrell’s face,” Hanshaw said. “It is going to be a hell of a fight. I am going to take him out of there.
“Being trained by a guy like Ronnie gives me extra motivation. Knowing that he was worked with some of the best fighters in history makes me push it even harder. He is a hell of a trainer.”
A good judge of talent, Shields knows that Hanshaw has the skills to move to the next level.
“Hanshaw has a lot of potential, he always has,” said the renowned trainer. “The thing is you have to bring it out of him. That’s what we are trying to do now.
“Of course I’m confident that he has the abilities to beat Dirrell. Andre moves a lot and is a sneaky counter puncher, but I think Hanshaw is the bigger stronger guy and he should be able to impose his will. Dirrell wants to move, but Hanshaw will make him exchange punches.”
The sole blemish on Hanshaw’s record is a decision loss to future Boxing Hall of Famer Roy Jones, Jr., on July 14, 2007. Hanshaw was impressive in the bout, which was fought at 175 pounds.
Shields knows that this is an important fight for Hanshaw, especially coming off of the loss to Jones, Jr.
“Dirrell is a good fighter and this is a big step up,” Shields said. “Outside of Roy Jones, this is the biggest fight of his career. Hanshaw is focused and ready to prove that he has what it takes to become a champion.”
Play-by-play announcer Nick Charles and expert analyst/boxing historian Steve Farhood will call the action from ringside. The executive producer of ShoBox is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.
For information on Showtime Sports, including exclusive video, photos and news links on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and EliteXC mixed martial arts telecasts, please go www.SHO.com/sports.