Switch-hitting super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell has announced his separation from promoter Gary Shaw and advisor, Al Haymon, in favor of the Team Dirrell promotional company to be overseen by his uncle and trainer, Leon Lawson Jr.
“This is big to be on your own and to be able to make your own decisions and to know that you’ve got the confidence of your own team, first and foremost,” said Direll, 28, of Flint Mich. “It’s a huge step in the game, and it will definitely let me know where my is name in the sport.”
Shaw, who was booked to promote Dirrell through Haymon, would only say, “Good luck to Andre Dirrell.”
The announcement comes in the wake of interest by the Showtime network in televising the once-beaten Dirrell 20-1, 14 knockouts), among others, against southpaw IBF titleholder Lucian Bute (30-0, 24 KOs) of Canada.
“Just by people calling me out to fight Lucian Bute and to fight [RING champion] Andre Ward. It just let’s me know that I’m on the same level as Bute and the other champions out there,” said Dirrell. “Team Dirrell will work that much harder. This is going to be a big change and a big booster for me. It means the world.”
Dirrell ended a 21-month ring absence with last month’s second-round stoppage of southpaw Darryl Cunningham, ending the loser’s 17-fight winning streak that had included seven knockouts.
A 2004 Olympic bronze medalist, Dirrell was last in the ring against Germany’s Arthur Abraham in March of 2010 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 former WBC super middleweight beltholder Carl Froch, who lost by unanimous decision to Ward in the finals of the Super Six tournament last month.
“The Bute fight, you know, that’s a fight that we want. It’s something that we would take into strong consideration,” said Lawson Jr. who trains Dirrell along with Dirrell’s grandfather, Leon Lawson Sr. “But I would need to sit down and speak with Andre first because this is the first we’ve heard of this today.”
Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza is the network’s new executive vice president and general manager of sports and event programming.
“We want to make exciting fights, just like Stephen Espinoza does. I feel like Andre will get a fair shake and that there is strong interest in Andre. If we fight Bute, of course, we would want it here in the United States. He’s got to come out of Canada sooner or later,” said Lawson Jr.
“Canada is only separated from Detroit by the Ambassador Bridge, so Bute’s people can drive right across the bridge to come and into the United States to see their champion fight us.”
Photo by Tom Casino, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com