Published on September 24th, 2019 | by Percy Crawford0
Anthony Dirrell Is Used To Defying The Odds, Determined To Prove He’s The Best On Saturday Night!
This is why fights are fought in the ring and not on paper. Despite holding the WBC super-middleweight title, Flint, Michigan’s, Anthony Dirrell is being viewed as an underdog heading into Saturday nights fight against undefeated, David Benavidez (21-0) with 18-knockouts. Dirrell isn’t a stranger to overcoming the odds and bouncing back from setbacks. In 2006, Dirrell was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After KOing cancer, Dirrell would face yet another career blow in 2012, when he was involved in a motorcycle crash that prevented him from fighting for a world-title. He also suffered a fractured wrist and broken leg from the accident. To make matters worse, Dirrell is in the middle of a water crisis that’s directly affected his hometown of Flint, Michigan. Having overcome so many odds already in his life, Saturday night will be a hurdle that no fan or boxing writer can cross or predict for Dirrell. He plans on letting his fist determine the outcome.
I caught up with “The Dog” during fight week to get his thoughts on the Benavidez fight. He understands the significance and plans to show why he’s the best 168-pounder in the world. Dirrell-Benavidez will serve as the co-main event to Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter’s welterweight PPV showdown!
I’m sure it’s been a long hard training camp, but Saturday night is the night. How is everything going?
Anthony Dirrell: It’s going good. I can’t complain. Just focused on this fight.
Your last fight was in February and David Benavidez’s was in March. Did you kind of sense being that you guys fought so close to one another that this was the fight they wanted to make?
Anthony Dirrell: Yeah, I think I wanted to make it too to prove to everybody that I’m as good as I say I am.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say you have been disrespected, but it’s clear that you are viewed as the underdog. I read where you said people’s opinions don’t matter to you. That being said, are you carrying a little chip on your shoulder because no one seems to be giving you a chance?
Anthony Dirrell: Yeah, they can talk. God gave them a mouth to talk, so let em talk. I’m the underdog, but I’m also “The Dog,” so either way you put it, I’m the dog. I’m going to go in the ring a dog and that’s just what it is.
His first fight with, Ron Gavril was somewhat grueling, but other than that, he’s pretty much had his way. Do you feel like he hasn’t been brought to those waters that you could bring him in?
Anthony Dirrell: Yeah! I don’t think he’s fought anybody that’s like me. Everybody he fought; he was supposed to do what he did to them. I’m just being honest. You name somebody that he fought that he wasn’t supposed to knock out or beat. That’s what you do though, you build fighters and get them to this stage. You build them up and I’m going to knock him down.
With the emergence of guys like, Caleb Plant to the division, do you think, Dirrell-Benavidez was important to make to create some clarity in the division?
Anthony Dirrell: I mean… it’s a lot of good 168-pounders in the division. It’s definitely just not, Caleb Plant. You got Callum Smith and Canelo Alvarez who still have a belt here. It’s a lot of people that’s still in the super middleweight division that’s worth a fight. To me, it will just put an exclamation point on why I think I’m the best.
Have you done anything different to prepare for this fight or have you gone with the, if it’s not broke don’t fix it approach?
Anthony Dirrell: I think you always have to do something different for anybody that you fight. Everybody is a threat, and everybody have their own unique style. You gotta change up your style somewhat for each opponent, but you mainly stick to your guns and do what you’ve been doing to win the fight. You just have to tweak everything and tighten everything up.
Benavidez is young, 22-years old, he’s big and he’s strong. But then I look at your resume and I’m not sure there is a style you haven’t faced. Will your resume and the opposition you have faced be the difference on Saturday night?
Anthony Dirrell: I think I am more experienced. I can’t say that I have faced his style. He’s fast. Everybody says he’s strong and I heard, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini say he’s got one-knockout-punching power, but he’s never knocked nobody out with one punch.
Unfortunately, “Boom Boom” say a lot of off the wall things.
Anthony Dirrell: I want to see somebody he knocked out with one punch. He doesn’t have one-punch knockout power. You gotta be there for him to hit you. That’s just honest. That’s been his whole career; somebody that just stands there. They pick people who are afraid of him, period. And I’m not afraid of him. I’m going to stand up to him. I’m a big guy and I’m going to walk him down like he’s accustomed to walking everybody else down.
You have been in this game a long time and when I see a veteran of the sport say some of the things you’re saying, I know you see something. You said, “He’s not who they think he is.” You don’t have to reveal it, but is that an accurate statement when I say you see something?
Anthony Dirrell: Yeah, he’s young. Is he good? Yeah! I’m not saying he’s not good, but he’s still young. He’s still green. He’s got a lot of holes in his game, which everybody got holes in their game but if someone can’t capitalize on them holes then they are not an elite fighter.
For you to battle through everything that you’ve battled through, the cancer, the motorcycle accident and to be in this position that you are in now, what does this moment mean to you?
Anthony Dirrell: It means a lot. Like I say, it will put an easy feeling on me. It will let everybody know that I am a real champion and that’s what I want to prove to everybody. I can’t live off of everybody’s opinion because everybody has one. If I did that, I would go crazy. I just do what I need to do to win the fight.
You are fighting for a bigger cause as well on September 28th. Although it’s gone relatively quiet, the water crisis in Flint, Michigan is still in despair. I know you have been in the center of that fight; do you feel like progress is being made?
Anthony Dirrell: It’s been tough because it’s still going on. They just announced that we have to boil the water again in Flint. It’s bad, man. But that’s what I’m here for. I’m here to help the situation and help my people.
Not to get too political, but at this point and because its been going on for so long, who do you think is to blame at this point?
Anthony Dirrell: I think it was the governor. I think it was the governor who did it and he need to be held accountable for what he did. But they let him off. He didn’t get held accountable. It’s sad, man, but we’re going to bounce back regardless.
When fans tune-in to watch you fight on Saturday night, what can they expect from, Anthony “The Dog” Dirrell?
Anthony Dirrell: They can expect for me to walk out of there with a world-championship. They can expect my hand to be raised and at the end of the day, they can expect fireworks. The fans will win. We’re here to entertain because at the end of the day we’re entertainers. And after this fight, they will expect me a lot more.
You know you are an underdog; you know what’s being said, but I have to ask you this, in the social media era, how much do you see and pay attention to and how much do you ignore?
Anthony Dirrell: I read everything. You can’t let nothing really get to you. Everybody has their own opinions. If you go off of everybody else opinions, you would go crazy. I mean of course I read. I’m only human. I’m going to look at pictures and I’m going to read interviews, but it’s how you take that and apply it is what defines you.
Ant… good luck on Saturday night, I’m really looking forward to this one and hopefully we can speak afterwards. Is there anything else you want to add before you go?
Anthony Dirrell: I appreciate the interview. Honestly, it seems like you were more genuine with your questions than anybody I’ve done an interview with.
I appreciate you, brother.