Interview: Flint boxer Andre Dirrell breaks silence about future boxing plans in part one of a two-part series

February 11, 2011

By Eric Woodyard | The Flint Journal

FLINT, Michigan — In March, it will be a full year since top-ranked super middleweight contender, Andre Dirrell has entered the boxing ring.

In his last bout he was nailed with a cheap shot by Arthur Abraham after he slipped in a corner and rested on one leg. The punch knocked Dirrell completely out but he still went on to win the fight by disqualification.

After that contest, Dirrell was scheduled to face his close friend and fellow 2004 U.S. Olympic teammate, Andre Ward. That fight would never happen as Dirrell was diagnosed with neurological problems following the effects of Abraham’s devastating blow. The doctors advised Dirrell to remain absent from the sport for three months until he was symptom free.

Guess what? It’s been three months and Dirrell was cleared to return back into boxing on Tuesday, Feb. 1.

Last week, Dirrell invited the Flint Journal out to his plush home in Fenton to give fans an insight on his boxing plans, address the “haters,” and to set the record straight about his injury in part one of the two-part interview.

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Eric Woodyard: Can you explain the neurological problems that you were dealing with for those that may not understand?

Andre Dirrell: I lose around 15 or 16 pounds for every training camp so it’s natural for me to feel dizzy after a fight and to feel light-headed when I start turning back into my old self after I leave camp. But after the fight, after I saw the doctors, they told me I had a slight concussion, and I came home not thinking of it, just working out and I started getting light-headed, I started getting dizzy. There were times I couldn’t sleep, I would be in the gym working out and my grandfather would see a difference just from my training alone.

So when he told me to go visit the neurologist that scared me because my grandfather doesn’t care if you’re sick, hopping on one foot all that stuff during training should be gone. So, I went to the Neurologist and told him I had dizzines that wouldn’t go away, I couldn’t sleep. I told him pretty much the same thing and they put me off for three months. They put me off until I was three months symptom-free, but I feel pretty good now.

As far as other boxers having it I know (others) have slight concussions and after fights like this from being knocked out (and)  it’s unchangeable for them. They get back in the ring and they can make nothing of it, they’re whole game is changed and it affects not only their career but their lives, so me taking this time off is pretty smart for me and I’m just hoping for the best when I get back in that ring.

EW: I know it had to be a setback for you being right on the brink of fighting Andre Ward in the middle of training. Just how much of a setback was this injury for you?

AD: It was quite of a setback — it just wasn’t a big setback because again I’m just looking out for my career. That’s pretty much the only setback. When I fought Carl Froch everybody thought I won the fight. The world saw that. The world knows that I won the fight and it was a good fight for me. Moving on to Arthur Abraham I totally dominated him. It was a picture perfect perfomance until the late hit. Like one reporter said, ‘he tarnished a Picasso.’

I am on the brink of exploding. I’m right there on the verge of becoming a big-time fighter and for this to happen it is quite of a setback. It can do something to you mentally. It bothers me a little bit, but I know once I get back in that ring I’m gonna be my old self again. In March it will be a year and I’m looking forward to fighting Andre Ward sometime in the near future. So when that comes about I will be willing and ready, so it’s part of a setback because I want to be fighting. I’m a boxer that’s what I do. I really can’t wait to get back in there.

EW: We have to address the people all over the internet who think you’re dodging Andre Ward. What do you have to say to those people?

AD: I just heard it again today. Last night I saw a video on there that was quite funny and I commented back to him on Twitter like ‘that was a good one.’ People crack jokes about it, people say that ‘I’m faking.’ Haters gonna be haters but I’m loving it because. honestly, I have three to four to five times as many fans as I do haters and you got to take the good with the bad … but it just really motivates me so when I hear it, it doesn’t bother me.

Half of it makes me laugh, half of it makes me wonder but it doesn’t bother me at all. I just want to get in there and fight. One thing about boxing is that you will be criticized until you retire so I’m actually looking forward to that. Floyd Mayweather’s being critcized to this day and he’s one of the best out there period! So I’m looking forward to getting more haters like Katt Williamssays, but I can’t do nothing but feed off of it. It’s nothing but energy for me.

EW: At what point do you feel like will be the right time to take the fight with Andre Ward? Do you think it was too early?

AD: I don’t want to put any skepticism to saying that the fight was too early because people already believe that I was dodging him, but — come on man — we’re two young fighters. We’re both at the top of our career and people look to see us fight and they know ever since we’ve turned professional that people have been wanting to see us fight. They wanted to know if we can live up to the standards of bringing in a big crowd and they said that we can do that now.

The Super Six was a beautiful opportunity for me but I don’t believe that it was the right time. Unfortunately this did happen, and we would’ve had our time to shine and we would have had a great crowd but I know it could be better with both of us carrying a championship, both of us at the high rise of our career, (and) at the peak of our performance. People are going to pay to see us. It’s definitely a potential big fight and I don’t want to sell it short. Like I said I don’t want to add skepticism because if this wouldn’t have happened with Abraham then I would be fighting Andre Ward. People want to see the fight but they just won’t see it when they want to see it, but it will come. I can’t wait, I know he can’t wait and that’s definitely gonna put a stamp on who’s the best and I’m ready to get in there and show the people what’s up, but they’ll just have to wait.

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EW: Do you regret joining the Super Six at all? If not, what do you feel like you gained from joining the tournament?

AD: Like I said it’s just been nothing but high hopes from the beginning. It’s lived up to my expectations from the beginning. When I first walked into the studio in New York, when I ran into all the Super Six fighter, I was sitting there and I did ask myself ‘Do I really belong in this tournament?’ because when you get under the lights and in that ring you feel it. You know when you’re put on that pedestial and I felt it there and after that first fight with Froch, I knew I belonged there. And fighting on with Abraham and gaining the exposure I got nothing but good out of it. It’s been an excellent tournament. Showtime has showed me nothing but love and if I can rewind it and do it all over again, I would definitely do it all over again minus what Abraham has done to me. So it was great exposure, this was a great tournament, the first time it’s ever been done and it’s definitely going down in history. Hopefully there can be more like it. I just love to know that we set the standards for boxing to be on a higher pedestal than what it is now.

EW: I know you have to feel like beating up Abraham. (laughs) I know you’re bitter at him man especially after all the junk he’s been talking since the fight…

AD: (laughs) Yeah. I was watching something with Abraham last night as well and he said I was a actor and stuff like that but he was definitely gearing away from the a— whooping I gave him. (laughs) You know what I’m saying? But listening to interviews after that fight, people don’t bring up the a— whooping. They don’t bring it up. It’s like it never happened because all they want to see is me and Ward’s fight. But like I said, an announcer said ‘he tarnished a Picasso.’ He knew what he was doing when he hit me. He knew I totally dominated. He knew I exposed him and I caught him for the fraud that he is. He’s a paper champion and I proved it when I put my hands on him.

The favorite in the tournament at the time was for Arthur Abraham, the point leader was Arthur Abraham. I came in and dominated him…period! He did what he had to do to get out. To cause controversy and he did just that. Froch put on a picture perfect performance against him as well, thanks to me but I am bitter. I am slightly bitter but no I’m not because he he isn’t the one to walk around and blabber and talk a lot of trash but he does have his point about me. If we ever meet again if he ever holds the belt, and if he’s worth my time, I will fight him again but he doesn’t get under my skin.

*Part two of this interview will be posted on the web tomorrow afternoon. A full-length feature story on Andre Dirrell will also headline Sunday’s Flint Journal.

 

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