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Danny Dignum set for an education

Danny Dignum
Danny Dignum is coming up against an awkward customer in Sirotkin, writes Matt Bozeat

THE winner of Demetrius Andrade vs Liam Williams might one day face the victor of the top-of-the-bill fight on MTK’s show at the Bolton Whites Hotel this Saturday (April 17). There, Essex middleweight Danny Dignum, rated No. 5 by the WBO, meets Russia’s tricky Andrey Sirotkin over 10 rounds, live on iFL TV.

The 29-year-old southpaw from Bowers Gifford is ranked following stoppages of Conrad Cummings (17-3-1) and Alfredo Meli (17-0-1), and said: “I’ve seen what Luke Keeler has done and it’s not silly for me to think I could fight the winner of Andrade-Williams.”

Keeler used fights with Cummings for the WBO European belt as a stepping stone to a shot at Andrade.

The next step for Dignum (13-0) is a clash with 36-year-old Sirotkin, rated No. 11 by the WBC, and he has quizzed gym-mates John Ryder and Grant Dennis about the task he faces. Both have fought Sirotkin, who has a win over a 44-year-old Ricardo Mayorga on his 19-1 (7) record.

Ryder described him as “horrible” after breaking him down in seven rounds in an eliminator for the WBA title up at 168lbs in October 2018, while Dennis was stopped in eight rounds six months ago.

“They both said he is awkward and can punch a bit,” said Dignum, “but he takes his foot off the gas every now and then.

“I’ve been in with a lot of fighters who are awkward and can punch a bit. I’m looking to outbox him and not give anything away.”

Ryder accepted his fight with Siroktin was in the balance until he was cut. That added urgency to his work and once he went to the body, Sirotkin started to fall apart. Until then, Ryder had found Sirotkin hard to fathom out.

Expecting to face a southpaw, Ryder instead discovered Sirotkin switches, has long arms, a twitchy style and punches harder than the stats suggest. This is a pertinent point when you consider that Dignum was down twice in the fourth round against Anthony Fox (5-10-4) three years ago.

Sirotkin has had four wins – three early – since the Ryder loss, most recently the stoppage of Dennis (15-2). The Brit was down four times, but it was no slaughter. It was just that Dennis struggled to take Sirotkin’s punches, which came from everywhere and didn’t always land cleanly on their intended target. For the final knockdown, Sirotkin used his left hook to pull Dennis into the path of a pinpoint straight right.

“One minute he looks good and the next he looks really basic,” said Dignum, who was ruled out of fighting in December with a perforated eardrum. “I know I have to stay switched on.”

Dignum is a couple of inches taller than the Russian and there’s more polish and rhythm to his boxing. As an amateur, he was part of the Great Britain set-up and had a win over Carlos Banteur − who won silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics − before being released.

At that point, Dignum thought his boxing career was over before Robert McCracken invited him to Brazil to spar Anthony Fowler and Joshua Buatsi ahead of the 2016 Olympics. That experience gave Dignum the confidence to turn pro, and after surviving the crisis against Fox he made his breakthrough in November 2019, using Cummings as target practice until the Irishman was rescued in the fifth − his first stoppage defeat.
That was followed by a ninth-round stoppage of fellow southpaw Meli (17-0-1) last March. Meli looked to crowd Dignum and had his successes when they traded in the early rounds. But Dignum kept his boxing together when he was caught and once Meli’s feet slowed, he took control with his smooth boxing. There was a rally from Meli in the sixth before Dignum went to the body, scoring three knockdowns to finish the fight.

Ryder used body punches to unravel Sirotkin and though he can fight on the inside, Dignum is at his best when he is moving his feet and firing off combinations. That is why we feel that Dignum can use his skills to win on points.

On the undercard, English light-heavyweight champion Dan Azeez defends against Ricky Summers in a British title eliminator. The form book points to Azeez. Lawrence Osueke and Andre Sterling are common opponents and the comparison favours the 31-year-old from Lewisham. He beat both, while Summers drew with Osueke and lost to Sterling.

Wombourne’s Summers (17-2-1) did push Frank Buglioni hard in a British title challenge, but that was four years ago. He is now 33 and hasn’t always been in love with boxing.

Azeez has had his two career-best wins since the last time Summers boxed, including a ninth-round stoppage of local rival Sterling (11-2) last September that was as gruelling as it promised to be.

From the midway point, Azeez (12-0) started to pull away and with Sterling’s left eye closing and the gap between them widening on the cards, his corner threw in the towel.

We go with Azeez to claim a decision victory in this 10-rounder.

The Verdict In order to protect his lofty ranking with the WBO, Dignum must get past the seasoned Sirotkin.

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