FLINT, Mich. — After capturing a Bronze Medal in the 2004 Olympics as a middleweight, advancing in Showtime’s “Super Six” super middleweight tournament, securing an interim title, while earning a 29-3 record with 19 knockouts, Flint, Michigan’s, Andre Dirrell has called it a career as a professional boxer. Dirrell finished his career with a 10th round TKO win over Yunieski Gonzalez in November 2022.
Throughout his career Dirrell was always viewed as one of the more naturally gifted boxers who faced some difficult times during his career. None more than the disqualification win he earned during the “Super Six” tournament against Arthur Abraham, who was disqualified for illegal shots to the back of the head. Dirrell sites lack of opportunities as the motive for hanging his gloves up, given the fact that he’s only fought 7 times in the last 6 years. He hopes to motivate and inspire others through boxing and his Victory Lab Boxing Fitness Gym.
Dirrell recalls his career, talks about his regrets, and the next chapter with Zenger News.
Zenger: Congratulations on a great career. What made now the time to retire from the sport of boxing as an active fighter?
Dirrell: When opportunity aren’t there, that’s really God telling you that it’s time to start thinking about making an exit. With so much consideration, considering how much I have to offer to this game still, I made my exit. Based on the fact that I can do so much more, and that I am so much more than boxing itself.
Zenger: You sound comfortable with your decision, but was it a difficult decision?
Dirrell: The lack of opportunity made it a realization. It was not easy to say the least. You just recognize that you are no longer the focal point in this sport no more. You gotta start weighing your options. The seven fights in six years, I knew the best course of action to take was to hang it up.
Zenger: Do you focus on what your greatest accomplishment in the sport was, or do you take it as a collective of everything you were able to accomplish?
Dirrell: I think the best way to look at it is collectively. Your mind takes you through everything. What was the best accomplishment. If I try to add it up, I can’t stamp it. I looked my best with [Arthur] Abraham, considering what happened towards the end of that fight. I did an excellent job against [Carl] Froch, even though some people have him picked on the other side. I made my presence known in the “Super Six” period. I went on to win the interim IBF the way no fighter desires to win an interim title. I look at it all collectively and I made a lot of noise. I accomplished a lot of great things. I have done things fighters wish they could accomplish in the sport. I earned the respect from not just my peers, but analyst, and legends give me that validation. I take that and be as satisfied as I can be. I knew there was nothing bigger for me to accomplish.
Zenger: You were one of the more natural fighters at switch hitting and going from orthodox to southpaw, and we see more of that today.
Dirrell: My grandfather started us off, he didn’t care about a particular stance. He just wanted us to be able to fire off of every angle. If he would see us sitting in our funk long enough, meaning the same side, “Switch up.” We just did it without question. I never paid attention throughout my 236 amateur fights to whether the guy was left or right-handed. Stances never mattered to me. It was something that came naturally, that’s why I was able to do it so naturally. It worked out for the best, and I was definitely opening doors for other fights.
Zenger: If you had the opportunity to do one thing differently within your career, what would that be?
Dirrell: Thank the Lord more. My career is what it is. I know how to take things as they are and live with them. Take your struggles and turning them into purpose. It was hard for me to appreciate where I was throughout my career because of where I wanted to be or where I seen myself being. I would’ve just been more grateful for the things that I did accomplish and thank the Lord for what I did accomplish, and that’s the honest to God truth.
Zenger: What does the next chapter look like for Andre Dirrell?
Dirrell: Bringing hope to others is my mission, physically and mentally. I’ve already talked to a couple of high schools in Florida, I talked to some high school when I moved here to Georgia, and I want to keep inspiring, motivating, and helping people realize that life is going to continue to happen no matter what you’ve been through, there is more action coming your way to help build character. Physically, through the sport of boxing, I have 30 plus years in this game, why not teach it? Give them what boxing has given to me. And then, mentally, helping people realize their potential. No matter what they choose to do in this life, their potential is limitless. Pick a route, stay on that road, and don’t let nobody knock you off your path.
Zenger: Is there anyone you wanted to fight that you didn’t get that opportunity?
Dirrell: Andre Ward! Just to see that fight happen. And the reason why it didn’t happen is because the way my career went. The way my career turned out, it never lined up with all of the success that my brother, Andre Ward has accomplished. People still wanted to see that fight, but when he started to hit that stretch ahead, it was like, why? They told me I didn’t deserve that fight. People say things to try and make you feel low, but legitimately so, he put himself in position to chase the biggest opportunities. It just never aligned with Andre Dirrell. I was always a high-risk fighter, high risk low reward, and I look at that as an accomplishment in itself. I turned 40 on September 7th, but listen, if I get the right call for the right price… and that’s all I’m chasing now. They say, don’t fight for money, I’m not, but if I can take my potential further with a bigger bag, I’m ready for that opportunity. If I get the right call would be the only way I step back into this game. If you call me with some bull, I had my fun, thank you anyway.
Zenger: How did it feel to get the amount of love you received when you shared the news that you were retiring?
Dirrell: It means the world because what boxing did to me, it shut me out. It literally forced me to say, “I’m not posting on Instagram. They don’t show love out there.” First and foremost, people only see you as one thing, especially when you’re in it. It’s like, you’re not a motivational speaker, you’re a boxer-box. When I got out of this sport, what I thought was my bread winner was actually holding me back from my true potential, which is what I told you I wanted to be. Me being able to unchain myself from that leash. You gotta respect this sport. I’ll dabble with what I want to do on the outside, but I know what I owe this sport. I can never lack. Now that this sport is no longer hindering me, I can live up to my true potential.
Zenger: Tell me about Victory Lab Boxing.
Dirrell: The motivation is always going to be there. I just worked with an ex-NFL player, Chris Carson, he just had to retire due to a strained neck injury. We were talking about what we were to our sport, what we thought he had left, and with him, not realizing his potential on the outside. Being a man, when you’re forced out of a thing, you have to accept it for what it is, and make the best of it in life moving forward. When you walk into Victory Lab Boxing, my mission is to let you know, you didn’t gain a victory because you worked out with me, you gained a victory because you walked through them doors.
Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager