The Super Six super middleweight tournament continues on March 27th, after a 3 week delay that saw this fight travel from the sunny locale of Southern California, to its new home in the much colder Midwest climate of Detroit, Michigan. Andre Dirrell 18-1 (13) looks to rebound from his controversial first loss via split decision to WBC titlist Carl Froch, and be the first to defeat former middleweight titlist and tournament leader Germany based Armenian Arthur Abraham 31-0 (25).
On the fight’s delay, Dirrell commented, ‘It’s unfortunate I hurt my back, but I’m 90 percent back and still pushing forward and getting everything ready with preparations for my victory over Arthur Abraham. I was sparring with one of my sparring partners and I turned and when I stepped to the side of him before I turned all the way to face him I took a punch across my body and that’s how I threw my back out.’
When asked about being dealt his first loss in a hotly contested split decision in Nottingham, England, he remarked, ‘It was a championship fight. It was in his hometown. I had a game plan but it unfolded when he started using dirty tactics. But I’ve learned from that. Going into the late rounds my mind was kind of wondering if I could go 12 rounds. By the ninth round I figured 12 would be a cinch. And I finished strong. But as far as the holding went it wasn’t part of the game plan. I wasn’t meant to hold that much, but because of the dirty tactics, he threw me off my game plan. When I got on the inside I clenched a little too much, and so I’m working on that right now. I’m prepared for anything now. When Arthur Abraham steps into the opposite corner as me I’ll be ready to get busy and get this win.’
Andre Dirrell certainly appears to be the benefactor in the fight’s delay. The fight was originally set to take place in Palm Springs, near a large Armenian community in LA and had fellow countryman Vic Darchinyan starring in the co main event. Dirrell is a native of Flint, Michigan, which isn’t too far from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit where the fight will now be staged.
On the new location, Dirrell stated, ‘This isn’t just big for Detroit or for Flint but for all of Michigan . Detroit is one of the legendary spots in boxing so that’s why I wanted to bring the fight there -- to show the Detroit boxing fans that boxing is not dying. It’s coming here and it’s here to stay.’
Meanwhile, Arthur Abraham seems to be rolling with the punches, as the Euro peekaboo slugger continues to seek the stardom in US that he’s been enjoying in Europe over the last several years.
Abrham said, ‘This is a really big chance for me to be a big star in America . It’s what I’ve been looking for. I really feel that there is so much interest from America and from SHOWTIME and from the journalists in the Super Six. I’m just really happy to be here and this is a great chance for me. I guess it will be a little bit of an advantage for him to fight in front of his home fans, but inside the ring we are all just by ourselves and you have to fight on your own, so that shouldn’t be a problem.’
Regarding the upheaval of his training camp and the impact, he offered, ‘It’s not been a problem at all. It’s all about attitude. We had a very good time training in California . It was sunny. We had a good, hard training camp there. Now, we’re back in Germany and next headed to Detroit , so it shouldn’t be any problem at all. I’ve never really been bothered by the jet lag. It would have been nice to fight in Palm Springs because there would have been more Armenian fans than in Detroit , but, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is what happens inside the ring.’
On the topic of his opponent’s elusive style, Abraham said, ‘I’ve watched Andre’s fight against Froch several times now. He’s more of a technical fighter. That is what he does, so you have to be prepared for that. You have to pick your sparring partners to copy his style and that’s what we’ve done. We have a game plan and that’s what you will see once we step into the ring. I expect him to be running a lot because that is his tactic. He will be running around. That’s what he likes to do. At times he will come to fight but it’s tough to say right now. We will see.’