RingTV.com caught up to switch-hitting super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell, who returns to the ring Friday night in a Showtime-televised double-header that also features the comeback of former undisputed middleweight beltholder Jermain Taylor at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa in Cabazon, Calif.
The 28-year-old Dirrell (19-1, 13 knockouts) will be in against southpaw Darryl Cunningham (24-2, 10 KOs), and Taylor, will face 24-year-old Baltimore native Jessie Nicklow (22-2-3, 8 KOs), who is 3-0-1, with one knockout since being stopped in the fourth round by Fernando Guerrereo in December of 2009.
Dirrell, a 2004 Olympic bronze medalist, was last in the ring against Germany’s Arthur Abraham in March of last year in the second round of the Showtime’s Super Six World Super Middleweight Classic.
That bout ended in controversy when Abraham was disqualified after punching Dirrell — who was far ahead on the cards — while he was down in the 11th round. Dirrell then exited the tournament, citing neurological issues.
Prior to facing Abraham, Dirrell had lost a split-decision to current RING No. 2-rated and former WBC super middleweight beltholder Carl Froch, who lost to Andre Ward in the finals of the tournament.
Also a former member of the Super Six Tournament is the 33-year-old Taylor (28-4-1, 17 KOs), whose past two bouts, similarly, were against Froch and Abraham. Taylor was knocked out in the 12th round by Froch in April of 2009, and by Abraham in the 12th in October of 2009 — one bout prior to Abraham’s facing Dirrell.
Taylor pulled out of the tournament in January of last year after being stopped by Abraham. He was briefly hospitalized in Germany following the loss, received a CT Scan and an MRI as well as other testing, and was diagnosed with a concussion, short-term memory loss and bleeding on the brain.
Taylor was approved in September for a boxing license by the Nevada State Athletic Commission by a 5-0 vote.
Dirrell is the older brother of unbeaten super middleweight contender Anthony Dirrell (24-0, 21 KOs), who is the No. 1 mandatory contender to Ward’s WBC belt after having endured a 26-month ring absence that resulted from a 2007 diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
RingTV.com: How was it for you watching Ward defeat Froch in the Super Six final?
Andre Dirrell: I’m not dwelling on anything, so let me put that first. I was happy for Andre Ward that he won. But I feel as though I would have been there if what happened against Arthur Abraham had not happened.
I’m not going to even say that I should have been there, because I would have been there. But unfortunately, things happen, and we have to deal with the situation at hand.
But I have no regrets. I’m not dwelling on the past. I know that I would have been there if I would have been able to stay in the tournament. So, I’m okay with the outcome.