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Froch, Dirrell sound off

Story by Bob Hough
Photos by Esther Lin/SHOWTIME and Colin Messom/Hennessy Sports

Andre Dirrell said Wednesday he’s been to the mountain top in a literal sense, and he’ll go to hell and back to get there professionally.

Dirrell (18-0, 13 KOs), who joined WBC Super Middleweight champ Carl Froch (25-0, 20 KOs) for an at-times testy teleconference to discuss their 12-round fight on Saturday, Oct. 17, said a long run during training in Big Bear, Calif., took him to a breathtaking view.

“Four days ago, I came to the end of a run on this mountain and I was literally standing on top of the world,” Dirrell said. All I could see was nature, no houses or anything. It showed me where I belong.”

Training in the mountains was eye-opening from day one.

“I actually thought I was going in there in pretty good shape for Big Bear, but I was wrong,” the Flint, Mich., native and resident said.“It took me two weeks just to get used to the altitude. The first week of training was really hard.”

Froch believes the fight in his hometown of Nottingham, England, part of a doubleheader including Arthur Abraham (30-0, 24 KOs) vs. Jermain Taylor (28-3-1, 17 KOs), the first bouts in Showtime’s Super Six World Classic, will provide Dirrell with a new definition of “hard.”

“I went toe-to-toe with Jean Pascal for 12 rounds to win my title,” said Froch, who’s had four 12-round fights. “I’m a proud, proud warrior. I’ve gone 12 rounds with a guy (Pascal) who has since become a light heavyweight world champion. I went to defend my crown in America against Jermain Taylor, a former undisputed world champion and a top, top quality fighter.”

Froch believes he has the experience and power to stop Dirrell in no more than eight rounds.

Dirrell, who’s gone 10 rounds on one occasion, acknowledged that he’s taking a big step forward against a great, veteran fighter with a big punch, vowed to win with speed and skill.

“I’m coming over with my ‘A’ game and I guarantee you that I will keep that crowd quiet,” said Dirrell, who deemed Froch “a funny world champion” after hearing his prediction and chose not to make one, other than vowing to win. “He will be at a loss for words by the third or fourth round.

“He’s never been in there with someone as fast as me, with a guy who can switch up like me. I don’t care who he’s sparring with out there. He’s on the right track, but he’s on the wrong train because they’re not going to get him ready for Andre Dirrell.”

In his next breath, Dirrell emphasized that it won’t be easy.

“If I can come with my ‘A’ game, I can make this happen,” he said.“But if I’m not careful, like I said, Carl Froch is a very powerful puncher. I take nothing from him. It’s going to be a heck of a fight. I’m just coming prepared; I’m just going to be ready. I know he’s doing the same. I’m just really, really ready to show off my talent and show off my skill.”

Bring any style you have, Froch said.

“Every single southpaw I’ve fought in my professional career, I’ve knocked out,” the 32-year-old said. “I’ve got no problems, orthodox or southpaw. If Andre switches from southpaw to orthodox that means one of his sides is going to be a weak side. He’ll have to be careful on his weak side because I’m a very dangerous puncher.”

Dirrell, 26, is not worried about big punches or a big trip to England.

“I’m just ready to do anything for a world title,” he said. “If that means I have to go over to Nottingham to pick up a world title, then that’s what I have to do. Regardless, I think this is going to be easy as pie.”

Froch fired back, “Nottingham is not too far a distance. I think hell and back is more like it.”

And Dirrell countered, “I’ll tell you one thing, if I have to go to hell to get the belt, if I have to fight the devil to get it, then I’ll be fighting him to get that title.”

It will be a combination of mental and physical fitness, Dirrell said, that will take Froch’s belt.

“I’m coming over there in top-notch shape and my mental game is sick right now,” he said.

Froch thinks Dirrell doesn’t have enough experience to know what he faces.

“Dirrell keeps talking about being mentally prepared,” he said. “I don’t have to get mentally prepared. I’ve been in the trenches more than once and I’ve come out on top more than once. I’m an undefeated professional with an excellent knockout ratio. Being that I’m fighting in my hometown just makes my job a whole lot easier.”

It was at times not easy to hear either man because one would leap in to interrupt and disparage the other, each taking an approach other than one of respect and professionalism Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward, who fight Nov. 24 in their Super Six debuts, have called for and exemplified.

Dirrell said some attitude is part of boxing, all the more when big fights get close.

“We’re less than three weeks away from a huge fight so I think we’re both really ready to do it right now,” he said. “I respect Carl Froch and I respect every fighter in this tournament. In the beginning I was quite a bit overconfident; it was my only unprofessional moment and I’m sorry about that.

“I mean no disrespect. Everybody has to be quite professional, especially me and Andre Ward because we’re not world champions. We have top-notch guys in the tournament and I have to take it seriously, not make jokes.”

Froch, who at one point asked Dirrell, “Is that a question or is that jive?,” and later started singing, “I hear that train a comin’, it’s rolling ‘round the bend,” as Dirrell interrupted him, said he simply speaks his mind.

“I’m a consummate professional from start to finish,” he said.“Anything I say, I mean. I speak belief. I’m not apologizing for anything I say.”

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