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Q&A: Andre Dirrell says 'My mind has never been sharper than it is today'
Having recovered from the head trauma that led to an early exit from the Super Six tournament, Andre Dirrell "can't wait to show everybody that I am still the man."
RingTV.com caught up to super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell for his first interview since withdrawing from Showtime's Super Six tournament in October.
The 27-year-old native of Flint, Mich., was last in the ring against Arthur Abraham in March of last year, a bout that ended in controversy after Abraham was disqualified for punching Dirrell while he was down in the 11th round.
Dirrell (19-1, 13 knockouts) says that he has recovered from head trauma he suffered against Abraham and that he plans to demonstrate as much during an early September comeback against Sebastian Demers (31-4, 11 KOs) of Canada.
"Andre has cleared all of his [neurological] tests and everything, so he's ready. The doctors say that he's ready to go, so that's the news that we were waiting to hear," said Dirrell's uncle Leon Lawson Jr., who co-trains the fighter with Dirrell's grandfather, Leon Lawson Sr. "I would prefer that Andre gets some rounds in during this fight, but I don't know if that's how he's feeling."
Andre Dirrell has spent much of his recent training alongside his 26-year-old brother, Anthony Dirrell (23-0, 20 KOs), a super middleweight who has overcome cancer and is coming off of last weekend's second-round knockout of Kevin Engel.
Dirrell's exit from the tournament came at a time when he was scheduled to face WBA titlist and personal friend Andre Ward. Ward was an Olympic gold medalist in 2004, Dirrell a bronze medalist.
Dirrell's exodus led some to question not only whether he and Ward wanted to face each other in the first place, but also Dirrell's courage.
In the aftermath of his second straight loss, for example, Allan Green remarked, "I'm not Andre Dirrell," when asked if he would retire from boxing.
Dirrell spoke to RingTV.com concerning his exit from the Super Six, his next fight and his future in general.
Andre Dirrell: Allan Green is in no way, shape or form a threat to me. I don't look at him as a threat and I don't believe he's a threat. He was fortunate to get into the tournament as a replacement for Jermain Taylor.
And he didn't even win a fight. He was a minor pawn. I mean, he took his move on the chess board and he got taken. Every fight that he had, he got taken.
And he didn't just get taken, but taken convincingly. They wiped him out and they showed that Allan Green did not belong. Nobody else left the tournament like that.
Not even Jermain Taylor when he had to leave the tournament. Nobody showed that. Allan Green, everyone knows where he is. No one is worried about Allan.
RingTV.com: Is it difficult to watch the tournament unfold, given your narrow loss to Carl Froch, who is in the finals against Andre Ward?
AD: That's what bothers me the most is knowing that I'm not in the tournament and that I could possibly have won. That's the only thing that bothers me. I love watching the glory. I love watching the highlights. I was once a part of the hype, but now, I'm not part of the hype. The positive is that I got out with my win over Abraham, just like Mikkel Kessler got out [with an eye injury] after beating Carl Froch.
If Mikkel Kessler and I finally meet up, maybe one day, or when any of us possibly meets up one day, then we have all had that positive experience to know that this or that guy has been a proven fighter.
So we can still really fulfill the theme of the tournament. I look at the glory and the hype and I still wish for the tournament to succeed. I really can't wait to get back in there and show everybody that I am still the man.
RingTV.com: Have you learned anything by being away from the competition?
AD: Well, I realize that the time has allowed me to just get back into the gym and to work on the things that I really need to work on. Mentally, I don't feel that I could be in a better place.
That could be very surprising for a lot of people to hear. But a lot of the stress that came with being out of the ring also gave me a lot of time sit back and to regain my focus. It is what it is.
It showed me how to hone in on what I have to do. I realize what I've got to do to go and get that world title and to and gain multiple world championships. I know what to do and how to make lots of money in the process.
It just really humbled me and focused me and put me in a great state of mind. My mind has never been sharper than it is today, man, and I really am thankful.
Everything happens for a reason, and I know that. I can't just look at the down side of it, but more, the upside of things and what I can learn from it.
Mentally, it improved me a lot. Physically, I'm there as well. I'm just ready to get back into that ring.
RingTV.com: How has your brother Anthony's story inspired you?
AD: It's only natural that I feed off of that positive. That's a kinship that a lot of people don't have. Someone who can push you in life in general. It's not just about boxing with me and my brother.
It's about being there for one another beyond this sport. With him being on my side and vice versa, that's what keeps us going and that's what keeps us moving.
It's been awesome. He's learning new things, I'm learning new things, and it's all from one another.
RingTV.com: Will Anthony drop to 160 and allow you to stay at 168?
AD: Anthony was always light, you know? I've walked around at 185, and for him, he walks around at 178 and can get down to 168 with no problem at all. So we believe that he can compete down at 160.
We believe that he can actually take all of that power down to 160 and be a force in that weight. I just think that it would be better for him to go down in weight when it's time for us to go and collect those belts.
My brother is really about to show his talents, and that's outstanding. That way, there will be no argument over the belts. We won't be fighting each other. I wouldn't want to argue over who gets what belt.
If Anthony wants it, I want him to be able to go and get it. We can compromise. We're like, 'You go 160 and I go 168, and we'll dominate at both weight classes.' That's looking like pretty much a laid out plan that's set up.
RingTV.com: How will you measure success against Deemers?
AD: Point blank, I'm just looking at being at my best and delivering a top level performance. I'm not necessarily looking for a knockout or just to get rounds in. I'm looking to be sharper and smarter.
I'm looking to have a good image. It's all there. I know that I have it. I'm working. I'm taking every fight as a learning step from here on out. I believe that I'm at my peak, and that I'm at my best.
My mind is a lot sharper. If I go 12, or 15, or 20 rounds, I want to make sure that I'm sharp while I'm doing it. I want to make sure that I'm poised. I want to show the world that Andre Direll is back.
RingTV.com: Sort of like Mikkel Kessler did when he knocked out Mehdi Bouadla?
AD: Yeah. The one thing I notice is that when Mikkel Kessler got back in there, he used his jab consistently. He was sharp, he was focused, and that's what I want to show the fans when I get back in there.
Mikkel Kessler was on top of his game, and I want to show that I'm still on top of mine. I want to put Mikkel Kessler's name out there because he's a threat.
He's a fighter, he's positive and he works hard. He's a man. It took a man to get back in there. I think that he and I could meet one day and that it will be a great fight. I want to face him, Andre Ward or even Carl Froch again.
RingTV.com: Who wins between Ward and Froch?
AD: I predict that it will be a tough fight. Andre Ward does have a slight problem with guys who are rough in a fight. Andre knows how to get rough right back.
But I'm hoping that he doesn't fall into that category where he gets caught up in Froch's game like I did. Even though I still feel like I won the fight, that was back when I didn't know a lot about holding.
If Andre can keep his game plan going, then he will win this fight. It won't be easy, but he will win that fight. Froch will need a little more than he has shown to beat Ward.
So in the end, I've got Andre Ward. I'm sure that the finals between Andre and Carl will be a blast, but I'm ooking to meet one of them somewhere down the road.