Despite holding a 168-pound world title for nearly three years, Anthony Dirrell loathed Caleb Plant. At every turn, the Flint Michigan, native Jawed at his longtime rival, poking, antagonizing, and daring him to step into the ring against him.

After months of intense negotiations, Dirrell (34-3-2, 25 KOs) was finally given his wish. The two would officially square off on October 15th, in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center just a few short weeks ago. During much of the lead-up, a bombastic Dirrell continued to push his man’s buttons, going as far as to say that the 30-year-old was in store for a painful night.  

While things didn't play out quite the way Dirrell had planned, losing via ninth-round knockout, he recently revealed that the contentious relationship between them was nothing more than a mirage to drum up ticket sales.  

“We’re entertainers,” said Dirrell to ESNEWS. “I have nothing personal against Caleb Plant. Being 38, I had to do what I had to do. I had to talk shit, I had to get him to engage with me so he can fight me. It’s a business, we’re entertaining the people. If I didn't do what I did, then our fight wouldn't have been as hype as it was.”

Dirrell’s rambunctious approach to Plant may have been all a part of his ultimate endgame, but the former two-time super middleweight champion was hopeful that Plant (22-1, 13 KOs) would be off his A game.

Yet, even with Plant admitting that he was as motivated as ever, he remained calm, cool, and collected throughout. With the Nashville, Tennessee, native racking up the points, he turned up his aggression in the ninth. In one particularly explosive instance, Plant ripped mercilessly to the body before digging his feet into the ground and uncorking the fight-ending blow upstairs.

Though he was devastated, Dirrell has taken it all in stride as he gave his now former rival, nothing but the utmost respect.

“I thought he would engage more honestly but he didn't. He did what he needed to do. I thought it was a close fight but I was coming on in the latter rounds but he caught me with a good shot. If anybody gets hit on the chin like that, they're going down, period. I take my hat off to him. He’s a heck of a fighter. I have nothing against Caleb, he’s a helluva boxer, helluva fighter.”