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Abraham, Dirrell both confident and relaxed

Story by Lindy Lindell
Photos courtesy of Tom Casino / Showtime

Days before their Stage 2 Super-Six super middleweight tournament contest in Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena this Saturday, both Arthur Abraham and Andre Dirrell seemed quietly confident and relaxed.

The fighters conducted workouts Wednesday afternoon at a second reincarnation of the old Kronk Gym in a storefront on Warren Avenue in west Detroit.

For Abraham, here with a large entourage from Germany, the magnitude of the tournament and fighting for just the second time in the U.S., it was not an issue for a man who had defended his middleweight title a remarkable ten times.

For Dirrell, who has every reason to have a bit of the jitters, but instead had all the look of one who was composed, smiling as went through a brief workout while speaking with the press who gathered around.

On the heels of a close loss to Carl Froch in a first-round Super-Six Tournament bout, Saturday’s showdown against Abraham is the most important fight of his career for Dirrell. He explained: “I know I made some mistakes in the fight against Carl Froch, like clinching too much. I was in good shape then, but I really hadn’t perfected my strategy. This time, I’m much better prepared. I’ve been working on perfecting my strategy by working with some real good sparring partners who did a good job imitating Abraham’s forward-ahead style.”

After his vigorous in-the-ring workout, Abraham fielded questions with the quiet cool of a man who seems to have few worries about keeping his 31-0 record and tournament lead intact. Abraham seems unfazed by fighting in Dirrell’s relative home territory (Flint - Dirrell’s hometown - is 70 miles northwest of Detroit): “I’d rather be fighting in Berlin, but I really don’t mind fighting here. After all, it’s just the two of us in the ring.”

When asked about how he would cope with Dirrell’s often elusive style, Abraham explained, “I can’t tell you. My coach and I have a game plan that we will put into effect, and so we’ll have to show you Saturday night.”

Neither man predicted a knockout, but each expressed confidence of victory.

“It’s a fight I’ve got to win,” conceded Dirrell. “If I don’t win, I’ll be out of the tournament. I’m not worried about how many points I’ll get, just that I’ll win and I have every intention on winning impressively.”

When asked what to expect from Dirrell, Abraham said, “A good fight. A fair fight. And a victory for me.”

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