This Friday night at The Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton, Washington, former super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell will return to the ring after an 18 month absence, and only three fights in the last four and a half years. Dirrell was easily good enough to win a world title back when he was more active, but given the amount of inactivity, the clock is now ticking for Dirrell to reach his full potential.
Dirrell’s return is good news as long as he can now stay busy under the guidance of Al Haymon, rather than former promoter, rap star 50 Cent. The best news will be if The Matrix manages to stay busy and put himself into position for some of the big fights once again.
The 168 pound division was the hottest in boxing a few years ago, but with the undisputed No. 1 Andre Ward also absent from the ring with legality problems, and some of the renown contenders and champions now aging, there is a gap for young fighters like George Groves and James DeGale, and for the reentry of a talented fighter like Dirrell.
Although now 30 years old, Dirrell is still a fresh 30-year-old because he hasn’t been taking a sustained amount of punishment in his career to date. And although the last few years have been far from ideal, and it obviously means that Dirrell reemerges as an older fighter numerically, it also means that he reemerges as a more mature person and a fresh fighter nonetheless. Dirrell is an incredible athlete, with great hand speed and footwork, and if he can now remain active, he will surely put himself back in position for titles once again.
Dirrell has already faced some of the top fighters in the division including the current IBF and WBA regular champion Carl Froch and the current WBO champion Arthur Abraham. The fight with Froch was a close one and one Dirrell could have won had he been a little more active and a little more aggressive at times. Against Abraham, Dirrell boxed beautifully and was heading for a clear and decisive victory until slipping on some water on the ring canvas. He was then struck illegally by Abraham whilst he was already down, resulting in an 11th round disqualification win for Dirrell.
Dirrell does not have time to waste anymore, and he needs to be in big fights as soon as possible. But his impending return is great news for the division because it adds another talented fighter to the pool, and another top fighter to help make up some big fights (hopefully) in the very near future.