Friday, March 31, 2023  |



‘Resurrected’ Andre Dirrell aims to shine in Boston

Fighters Network
Andre Dirrell vs Edwards_3 herby whyne

Andre Dirrell (L) clubs Derek Edwards en route to a unanimous-decision victory on Dec. 19, 2014, in Quebec City. Photo by Herby Whyne.

He used to go by “The Matrix,” a nod to his considerable skills, his mix of defensive wizardry and solid offensive traits. But Andre Dirrell (24-1), after looking deep inside himself, following a stint on the sidelines to heal up from some brain damage, is now employing a heavier tag, one that points to where he’s been, and where he says he wants to go: “The Resurrected.”

He was down, facing a most uncertain future and then he healed up, got the go-ahead to get back to doing what he loves, and now he wants to win titles, impress fans and move forward building a Hall of Fame resume.

A win over James DeGale (rated No. 4 at 168 pounds by THE RING) in Boston on May 23, on a PBC card broadcast by NBC, won’t gain him first-ballot entry, but DeGale, a Brit nicknamed “Chunky,” is a step up from the guys Dirrell (No. 7) has fought the last couple years, after he was walloped while he was down by Arthur Abraham in March 2010 (Abraham was disqualified) and needed time to let his brain heal up.

The 31-year-old Michiganer told me he’s pumped to be hitting Boston to headline and noted that the sports-crazed city hasn’t had much to offer fight fans in many moons. Marvin Hagler had time in the sun, Micky Ward is a minor deity, Jawny Ruiz got some ink and Peter McNeeley was a blip on the screen for a spell, but Beantowners who dig the sweet science live are usually on the outside looking in. “Every city deserves great boxing,” Dirrell told me, “and who better than Andre Dirrell to get excited about!? Other than baseball, maybe this opens up the eyes of sports fans who like boxing … they need some boxing and we are aiming to please!”

That new nickname … it’s heavy stuff. You have the religious connotation to it – it sets a high bar, in my opinion. Dirrell is fine with that: “I’ve been through quite a challenge, with my layoff. I had one fight in three years. It’s a mission God put in front of me, I realize. I now have love for the sport, and I desire to be a pound-for-pound guy. This is the new figure and form I come in.”

He wants to entertain, not by brawling, but with smart and sharp boxing, and he says we will get that come May 23. Dirrell told me he doesn’t need to watch much tape of a guy to figure him out; he hasn’t met the 20-1 Brit but from YouTube he sees “sort of a brawler, a boxer who switches; when he turns righty he swings hard, as a southpaw he toys with a jab, counter hooks, offers a little pressure. He doesn’t like to get hit, but he’s a pretty decent fighter.” Sounds like there are two DeGales Dirrell is ready for …

He sounded exceedingly confident, that aura not being diminished by the loss his younger bro Anthony suffered against Badou Jack a couple weeks ago. “That’s part of the sport, you can’t let it affect you,” he stated.

He’s dialed in on HIS task, nothing else. “I know talent-wise I’m one of the best out there, but talent is just the beginning, it’s all about hard work.” He told me he is OK with where his legacy stands now, that he knows boxing fans know his name, but “I’m nowhere near as big as I want to be. I plan on being a world champ, retiring at 35 or 36, making the Hall of Fame. I cannot stop here, I cannot be satisfied.”

The time off allowed him to really realize what he wanted to do in this savage science of a sport. “I didn’t put myself out there, didn’t talk on radio or anything. I wanted to find out who I was. I want to be in the sport and I have a new demeanor. That time off was a blessing and a curse, the blessing was no wear and tear and the curse was inactivity. I’m ready for the big leagues again! And come May 23, I’m ready to turn it up, and I want every fan to leave Boston with a smile on their face. Get ready for Flint, Michigan, Boston! A win in Boston will be part of my legacy!”

The guy has ground to make up to get to that Hall of Fame territory, but you have to like the level of fire and positivity in his rhetoric. That’s a solid start.

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