Ripped for being "scared" by winner and WBC champ Carl Froch in October, super middleweight Andre Dirrell will try to rebound from his first loss on March 27 when he meets undefeated Arthur Abraham.
Dirrell takes a record of 18-1 with 13 knockouts into his clash with Abraham (31-0, 25 KOs), who will be after his ninth knockout in his past 10 fights and his third straight stoppage victory when he visits Dirrell's home state of Detroit for their Showtime-televised, Super Six Super Middleweight World Boxing Classic group stage No. 2 bout at Joe Louis Arena.
Their originally scheduled March 6 bout was postponed to March 27, due to a back injury suffered in training by Dirrell, who has since recovered.
Following the controversial split-decision loss to Froch before a hostile crowd, Dirrell sees himself at an advantage against Abraham, who will be making only his third appearance outside of Germany, and only his second in America.
Dirrell's brother, Anthony Dirrell, is a right-hander who is 18-0 with 15 knockouts. Anthony, 25, was diagnosed with a form of cancer called non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in early 2007 and was out of the ring for the next 26 months.
In October 2008, Anthony returned with a victory over Canada's hard-hitting Andy Mavros, who had lost once in seven outings. Dropped in the first round, Anthony rose to earn a unanimous four-round decision.
Since then, Anthony is 6-0, with four knockouts, including three straight stoppages. Anthony scored a seventh-round knockout over Alfredo Contreras in his last fight in August.
In this Q&A, Dirrell discussed his fight with Abraham, as well as his relationship with Anthony Dirrell, among other things.
FanHouse: Andre, how is your brother Anthony's cancer treatment going?
DH: The cancer's gone. We're not worried about the cancer now. It's his hands that we're worried about now. He's having a setback with his hands. He's actually in Los Angeles seeing a specialist at this very moment. He had a couple of lumps in one of his hands and he had to get some surgery a couple of months back.
But he's back into training, and he's just keeping it right, going to therapy. But all is well for him. He'll be back in the ring in no time, and he'll be back in the ring as the same Anthony Dirrell that we knew before.
FH: What actually happened with your back, and how is the injury now?
Dirrell: I'm feeling 100 percent, and my back is 100 percent. So I guess that I'll be at 200 percent for the fight. I realized I didn't need a back specialist.
When I was sparring in the ring, I went to turn to my opponent. But before I could actually turn my body to face him, I threw the punch early, so I had to bring my right hand all the way across. So I kind of threw my back out.
FH: Was there a lot of pain?
Dirrell: Yeah, there was. I sat back off of it for about four days. About six, seven days in, I felt better about myself, and I got back to how I work. I'm 100 percent.
FH: How frustrating was the loss to Carl Froch, how many times did you watch the tape, what could you have done better, and are you over it?
Dirrell: I was only frustrated in the ring. That was pretty much it. I had never dealt with a person being as rough as he was being. I didn't expect him to be that rough. So my mind wasn't set for that. But after watching the fight several times, I've seen that I could have fought him on the inside a lot better than I did.
The entire game plan and the options I was looking at were to get my punches in on the outside, and then, when he got on the inside, tie him up. I felt like I did that maybe too much, but that was the game plan, and I tried to stick to it. But he threw me off with all of the roughhousing and stuff like that.
But I definitely could have fought a lot better than I did, and that's what led to the loss. But at the same time, I still feel like I won that fight.
FH: Given the first-round results, your loss, those of Jermain Taylor and Mikkel Kessler to Arthur Abraham and Andre Ward, and the insertion of Allan Green in place of Taylor, how has the climate changed in the Super Six and how would you rank everyone, in order, at this point?
Dirrell: As far as determination goes, I'm definitely there, ranked No. 1. I definitely see myself still winning this tournament, hands down. Andre Ward is still sitting in this tournament, and he's definitely made his statement about making the finals and for us to make the finals against each other.
That's not just because of our friendship bond, but that's just me telling the truth, man. Andre's a very tactical fighter, and he's smart in the ring, and I don't see anyone touching him. But when it comes down to me and him, then, time will tell.
But I will definitely be in shape, and I definitely see me pulling this thing off as well.
FH: So you have yourself and Andre Ward at Nos. 1 and 2, but who is next?
Dirrell: How would I want to rank them? Arthur Abraham's a strong guy, but I think that he'll have a problem with boxers. I don't think that he will be able to match my hand speed or my foot movement. So as far as rest of them go, I put him at third behind Andre Ward, as well.
Because Abraham, I don't think that Abraham can deal with a real-deal boxer. But everybody else, if Carl Froch decides to bang with Abraham, Abraham will, indeed, knock him out. Mikkel Kessler, he's a lot smarter, he can be a boxer as well, so I place him fourth.
We all know that Allan Green is very hungry, but he has a lot to prove. And the loss to Edison Miranda, it really sort of classified him. He fought a tough guy and he showed that he could, at times, go with a tough guy. But I don't think that he took that fight seriously enough as far as determination went.
I believe that he just wanted to get by. In the later rounds, Allan Green did drop Edison Miranda, but that's when he finally came to the realization that Miranda couldn't hurt him. But leading up to the eighth or ninth round with Miranda, he didn't fight like the Allan Green that we know. There seemed to be doubts in his mind.
Again, he's coming in and he's behind, so I have to put him fifth. And I just don't see Carl Froch beating anyone else. I don't care if I never fight Froch again, I just want that WBC belt that he has. But his skills don't match up to anyone in this tournament I don't believe.
I just see him being the last guy in the tournament.
FH: What are your thoughts and feelings about the Arthur Abraham bout being only your second time fighting in your home state of Michigan, with your first being your December 2006 third-round knockout of Cullen Rogers in Flint?
Dirrell: That [Rogers] was an introduction fight, just a minor show to give the fans back at home something that we put together. It was semi-successful. But this, with Arthur Abraham, this is a big fight. This will be a historical fight for the state of Michigan and for the Mid-West at the Joe Louis Arena.
This is the real one, right here. They will see Andre Dirrell at his finest, and I plan on making a big statement.
FH: With the fight being only a couple of days away, really, what's been the reaction of the community?
Dirrell: As far as the hometown goes, in the state of Michigan, they've shown me tremendous support -- Flint, Detroit, Bay City, Saginaw and all of the surrounding areas. And even Ohio and Florida. I'm feeling really awesome about the local support.
I believe that I will feed off of the crowd's energy and that I will pull off a victory on March 27.
FH: Do you feel any pressure?
Dirrell: I feel the pressure to be perfect in this fight. I want to be perfect. I want to be flawless, hands down. I want to show the fans that the loss to Carl Froch was a minor setback, but that it didn't affect my confidence.
FH: How do you crack Arthur Abraham's defense and deal with his power?
Dirrell:Arthur Abraham is very explosive and very powerful. He comes out of that defensive shell like a rocket. That's one thing that I give Arthur Abraham [credit for]. That's why he's a former world champion at 160 pounds. He's explosive out of that shell. He knows how to break out of it and bring the combinations.
Until you force him to throw a punch, then he'll keep that defense up. But the best defense for me in this fight is my offense. The more offense that I put on him, the more that he's got to start taking chances.
Once he realizes that I'm not going to get tired, then he'll start having to put his chin on the line and putting his form on the line and whatever else. He's going to start taking chances in the later rounds. Once he sees that my offense is breaking him down, then he'll have to break out of that shell and try to be on the attack more.
That's when I'll start bringing out my other arsenal, should I say.
FH: Will this strategy involve your arsenal moving forward, being in and out, doing things consistently, or doing a mix of things?
Dirrell: I'm definitely going to be doing a mixture of things, and I'm definitely going to be doing things to set traps for him, because he has a solid defense. He's not just a guy you can go in and throw punches at and expect to win. You have to have a game plan for Abraham. He's a careful fighter.
He hides his offense with his defense. And that can be discouraging to a lot of fighters. But if you go in there in 12-round shape and 13-round shape, and you have a great offense, then you can pull off a victory easily against him, and I believe that I will do that on March 27.