The number of fighters who have become world champions after appearing on ShoBox The New Generation since its inception in July 2001 stands at 30. That means viewers likely will be witnessing a future world titleholder approximately every fourth telecast. So who’ll be the 31st ShoBox alum to graduate into greatness? Will it be the supremely talented Andre “The Matrix” Dirrell? Perhaps the rapidly improving Ronald “The Chosen One” Hearns? Or will one of their opponents elevate their status with an upset victory? Stay tuned. The unbeaten fighters return to SHOWTIME on March 28, when super middleweight Dirrell and junior middleweight Hearns face Derrick “Superman” Findley and “Lightning” Harry Joe Yorgey, respectively, in 10-round bouts on a special Saturday edition of ShoBox (live at 11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
Dirrell (17-0, 12 KOs), of Flint, Mich., will meet Findley (13-2, 8 KO’s) of Gary, Ind., in the main event. Detroit’s Hearns (21-0, 17 KOs) and fellow unbeaten Yorgey (21-0-1, 9 KOs) of Bridgeport, Pa., will begin the ShoBox telecast from the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Okla. The event is promoted by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, and DiBella Entertainment.
The world-ranked Dirrell and Hearns are familiar faces to SHOWTIME Sports viewers. This will be Dirrell’s fifth appearance on the network and fourth in a row. He’s twice fought on ShoBox and SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING. Hearns has fought three times on ShoBox, including two of his last three fights.
Dirrell is rated No. 1 in the World Boxing Organization (WBO), No. 3 in the World Boxing Council (WBC) and No. 7 in the International Boxing Federation (IBF).
Hearns, the oldest son of legendary eight-time world champion Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns, is No. 7 in the WBC and No. 13 in the World Boxing Association (WBA).
For the six-foot-1, 25-year-old Dirrell, a sensational amateur who was the 2004 Olympic Games bronze medalist at 165 pounds, this is an opportunity to further elevate his reputation in a talent-laden division currently being featured prominently on SHOWTIME.
Twice, since October, Lucian Bute has successfully defended the IBF super middleweight crown on SHOWTIME. In an eagerly awaited scrap Saturday, April 25, Carl Froch will risk his WBC 168-pound belt and unbeaten record against former undisputed middleweight kingpin Jermain Taylor on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING.
Factor in the likes of 2004 Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward and Librado Andrade, who will take on Vitali Tsypko in an IBF 168-pound elimination on the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast on April 4, and you’ve got the ingredients to serve up magnificent matchups now and in the very near future.
The older brother of Anthony Dirrell, Andre is a tall, agile, unorthodox, switch-hitting southpaw who brings a scary mix of speed, smarts and solid power in both mitts into the ring. With exceptional athleticism and tremendous amateur experience, he is a threat to any prizefighter at 168 pounds.
Offers Nick Charles, the blow-by-blow announcer on ShoBox: “Andre Dirrell has youth, talent and high rankings on his side. The last point is the double-edged sword. This division is packed with talent. Dirrell’s rankings near the top of the boxing organizations makes him unwilling to risk a derailment before he gets a world title shot. That said, I’ll settle for a spectacular performance March 28 to tell me he’s progressing towards being an elite super middleweight.”
A winner of five straight inside the distance, Dirrell dazzled and dominated his last three starts in ’08. He stopped Victor Oganov in the sixth round on Nov. 1, scored a fourth-round TKO over Michael Paschall on Aug. 2 and looked extraordinary as he took apart Anthony Hanshaw via fifth-round knockout on May 2.
A lack of consistency may have been an issue in the past, but it isn’t now. Dirrell has been concentrating on improving his technique and has added a strength and conditioning coach as well as a personal trainer.
“This is my first fight working with a physical trainer,” Dirrell said. “I’m looking a lot better in the ring. I am just focusing on being sharper and putting my punches together right instead of being so wild at the end.
“That last fight I had with Oganov was the hardest fight of my life. I just want to be comfortable and know how to control my pace when a guy is rushing me. That’s why I have so many styles of sparring (partners) in camp. I’m working on everything I need to work on. I just want to showcase my ability to the fullest and look good doing it. If this fight lasts long enough, you’re going to see a good performance.”
Findley, who has fought all but one of his fights in Illinois or Indiana, is making his ShoBox debut and initial start since registering a 0:28, first-round TKO over Rashawn Bland on Oct. 3, 2008. In his outing before last the previous July 11, he scored a second-round TKO over six-foot-2 Andrzej Fonfara.
A winner of seven in a row, Findley, at 5-foot-6, is very short for the division but the physically strong, hard-hitting, aggressive-minded 24-year-old compensates for it with a relentless in-your-face style.
Findley accepted this assignment on about two and a half weeks notice, but it won’t be a factor. “I was in the gym training for another fight but I’m focused on this one now,” said Findley, who lost to another Andre – Andre Ward – in November 2006. “They think they got me on short notice, but I’ll be ready.
“I’m going to pressure Dirrell. I’m going to stay in his chest. He’s going to know I’m there to fight. All the weight is riding on him. He’s the Olympic medalist. There’s no weight on my shoulders. Everything’s riding on him. I don’t have any pressure. I’m a man of few words. I’m just going to be ready to fight.”
The 6-foot-3, 30-year-old Hearns got a late start (age 25) in boxing and had only 10 amateur fights. This will be his second scheduled 10-rounder. In his first, an explosive puncher with first-class speed and movement recorded two knockdowns en route a one-sided, smashing sixth-round TKO over Paul Clavette on Oct. 24, 2008, on ShoBox.
“I don’t know much about Yorgey, but what I do know is that he likes to start quick so I just want to go out there and try to set the tone and keep him at the end of my punches,” said Hearns, an excellent athlete who was born when his famous father was 20.
“I don’t spend a lot of time studying tapes; I feel my opponents will fight me differently anyway because I’m a much taller guy with longer arms, so they’ve got to fight to get in. I just do what I know how to do. I’m just keeping my basics tight. If you’ve got good basics, everything else will fall in place.”
Despite a belated beginning, Hearns is satisfied with the way his career has progressed. “I can see myself improving in different areas,” he said. “I just needed time because I was learning on the job. I think people are very surprised to even see where I’m at – just having a few amateur fights and being the son of Thomas Hearns.
“Most of them had me at the bottom of the totem pole, like, ‘Oh, he’s not going to be anything,’ but I’m gradually stepping up with my opponents. The guys I’ve been fighting, most of them don’t want to fight because they’re tough guys and they’ve never been stopped and I’ve been going out and stopping them.
“I’m very focused in what I do. Now everybody’s looking at me. (Some) people even want me to lose. So I have to prove the doubters wrong and let them know the more they say I can’t do something, the more it motivates and pushes me to take it to the next level.
“They’ll see on March 28 that I’m really something to reckon with in the sport of boxing.”
Yorgey, while taking a step up in class, should provide Hearns with his toughest test. A polished, fast-handed boxer who’s extremely popular in the Philadelphia area where he has a devout following, the 5-foot-10, 31-year-old Yorgey has won five consecutive starts. Like Hearns, he also got a late start in boxing and had limited amateur experience
From a stylistic standpoint, ShoBox analyst and boxing historian Steve Farhood thinks Hearns-Yorgey will be quite interesting.
“Yorgey is what the old timers would call a cutie,” Farhood said. “He’s not a puncher but he’s a superbly conditioned, clever boxer who knows he’ll have to get close to be effective. If he utilizes a darting in and out style, that’s exactly the type of fighter who could give Hearns problems at this point in his career.”
Yorgey, a smart, fast-handed boxer, was impressive in his last outing, his first in 10 months, winning a 12-round majority decision over previously unbeaten Jason Le Houllier on Aug. 22, 2008.
“I’ve seen Hearns fight a couple of times because I watch everybody in my weight class,” said Yorgey. “He’s good, undefeated and tall. That’s his biggest advantage. And he’s Tommy’s kid. It’s great his son is following in his footsteps. (But) Ronald is trying to get out of his dad’s footsteps. That makes him a dangerous opponent.
“You can’t fight Hearns standing up – you’ve got to fight him short. Bring him down to your height. I’m not going to change. I’m going to try to establish my jab early and show him I’m physically stronger. With the strength and conditioning I’m doing now, it’s going to come down to, ‘Are you in as good a shape as me?’ We’re going to find out.
“One thing I’ve seen in his fights is that he has trouble with guys that move laterally, and I thrive on defense. I’ve been 10 rounds, I’ve been 12 rounds. I don’t think he’s ever been past eight. That’s going to be another big issue, too. If we go into the deep rounds, we’ll see what his stamina is like.”
Yorgey has dedicated this fight to a friend’s niece, who has cancer and has been given only a few months to live. “I’m raising money with the fight for her and her family for all of her treatments,” he said.
Charles and Farhood will call the action at ringside. The executive producer of ShoBox is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.