By Chris Robinson
When I crossed paths with super middleweight contender Andre Dirrell a few weeks back at the Mayweather Boxing Club, he insisted that he was only going to be in Las Vegas for a few days handling some business before heading home to Flint, Michigan.
It turns out that Dirrell, a former title challenger with a 20-1 record with 14 knockouts, has decided to stay around a little bit longer than expected. The main reason, insists the 28-year old, is that he was taken aback by the intensity and camaraderie in his friend Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s ongoing training camp as he prepares for a May 5th date with Puerto Rico’s Miguel Cotto.
Dirrell has been far from a spectator, however, as he too has been putting in rigorous work inside of Floyd’s personal facility, most recently having engaged in a wildly-entertaining sparring session with undefeated prospect Badou Jack amidst much clamor from those in attendance.
Speaking on what his time around Mayweather both in and out of the ring has meant, you can tell how grateful Dirrell is.
“Mainly it’s been motivational,” stated Dirrell before a recent training regimen. “Getting a chance to watch the champ work, man, it’s been nothing but a pleasure. We just here really kicking it and having a good time. He wanted me to see what hard work was like and that’s what I’m doing out here. Just kicking it and getting a few things together as far as my next fight goes, so hopefully we can make a few moves and get things on track. It’s been great for me.”
There is always a special kind of aura inside of any high-level training camp, and while the 28-year old Dirrell has seen much during his time as an amateur and professional in the sport, he admits that he is currently a part of something special.
“You don’t get a chance to see an atmosphere like this inside of a boxing gym and it doesn’t do anything but uplift your spirits,” Dirrell claimed. “If I had a thousand people here watching me work I know good and well that I’d be giving it my all. Not to say I’m not doing that now, when you see how many people that are actually there for you, you actually want to take advantage of it and working to the best of your abilities. I love the atmosphere, it’s nice.”
Dirrell’s time with Mayweather isn’t confined to just boxing, as he and Floyd having been spending several hours together outside of the gym, from hitting up a recent Kevin Hart show at the Mandalay Bay, participating in some fast-paced basketball games at 3 in the morning with other gym members, and engaging in deep conversation about all areas of life.
Dirrell admits that he often has trouble keeping up with the animated Mayweather.
“The time zone he works out of, it’s a zone,” said Dirrell. “He don’t go off of no East Coast or no West Coast time or no Central time. None of that. This guy, to me he’s nocturnal. I still can’t get used to his schedule at this point. I find myself falling asleep at all times of the hour. We left the fitness center at 4 o’clock in the morning the other night. We’re just constantly working though.
“He’s always working man and that’s the good thing about it,” Dirrell continued. “That’s what’s so uplifting about him as far as him mentoring athletes such as me. I look up to that. If we have to stay up to 4 or 6 o’clock in the morning, two days in a row, then the work we’re putting in, it will be all worth it. I love every minute of it.”
Far from practical with his ways, Mayweather seems to see something great inside of Dirrell.
“He just sees that God has a plan with me,” Dirrell stated. “He isn’t worried about it. We’ll go running, and this guy will be running through lights, not even worried about the cars, man. I’m talking like I don’t even like crossing the street with this man. He knows God has a bigger plan for me and nothing’s going to alter that. Anything I get to do with him, I’m more than honored.”
Far from as exuberant as Mayweather in person, you can tell that Dirrell will never be after the same kind of lavish lifestyle as his buddy, yet he admits that a recent visit to Floyd’s mansion in the city was something to behold.
“His mansion is huge, man. Being there, you know that’s inspirational,” Dirrell noted. “I myself wouldn’t want nothing that big. I’m a content person. The only thing I’ll never be content with his working out, being a boxer, being an athlete. But as far as the big house, pools outside, it would be tough for me to even want to live like that. Something big, something comfortable would work for me; maybe a mini-mansion. I’d love something like that. But being in that house can show what boxing can do for you.”
Dirrell returned from a 21-month hiatus from the sport with a second-round knockout over Detroit's Darryl Cunningham on December 30th and is eyeing all options for his next outing.