Andre Dirrell Speaks on Leaving Shaw and Haymon: Can He Really Succeed Without Their Help?

On Friday night, it was announced that Andre Dirrell would be leaving both promoter Gary Shaw and manager/adviser to the stars (and others) Al Haymon to lead his own career with the help of his uncle/trainer, Leon Lawson Jr, and grandfather, Leon Lawson Sr.

The move has led to a lot of talk about what this really means for Dirrell, so the fighter has spoken out on Twitter about the move. There's not a lot here, but it does lend a little insight:

(1) I can confirm that I Want Bute and I'm on merchandise like that now so as soon as the website goes up ;-)

(2) it's all about having faith brutha, those who think they can't do it themselves usually can't! I know I can and I will!!

- This was in response to a fan saying Dirrell had "0 draw."

(3) We all know the Matrix is pushin forth his own destiny! Watch as I pursue & conquer my own dream! Who cares what u think, GOD HAS MY BACK!!

(4) If you feel like you're a great fighter, with great potential & tremendous skill, but needs some1 2 help u then u don't fully believe n you!

(5) Believe in who you say you are and put your faith in Jesus and only him! The rest will take care of itself! Stop handicapping yourselves!!!

(6) Me and Gary shaw NEVER had a contract together! So I didn't leave him, I'm just going my way & he'll do him! But He's great at what he does

On the last point, that's pretty standard operating procedure. As I understand it, nobody managed by Haymon actually has a contract with any promoter. They're basically on loan and allowed to have their fights promoted by Gary Shaw in Dirrell's case, or Lou DiBella in Andre Berto's case, or Golden Boy in the case of Floyd Mayweather Jr or Gary Russell Jr, etc.

As for the rest, it's just his thoughts. I won't really try to analyze those, because there's nothing to say. It's just what Dirrell is putting out there for everyone.

I do wish Dirrell luck, honestly, in large part because I think he's really going to need it. He said earlier that "it will definitely let me know where my is name in the sport," and he's right about that.

I just don't know if he's going to like what he discovers. Lawson Jr believes that there is "strong interest in Andre." I don't know that there really is.

Dirrell fought once on HBO, against Curtis Stevens back in 2007. He was so crowd-displeasing that he was never brought back to the network. Despite his obvious physical gifts and talents, Andre Dirrell is not an exciting fighter, and can be downright miserable to watch when he wants to be.

The fact that Dirrell got into the Super Six is owed less to his own value than the following factors:

  1. Al Haymon, who opens a lot of doors for a lot of fighters. Gary Russell Jr has been on HBO and will be on Showtime on February 11, and we're talking about a prospect fighting stepping stone bouts on premium cable. That doesn't happen all that often. You know who else got that chance recently? Andre Berto, another Haymon client.
  2. Gary Shaw, who has had a long working relationship with Showtime, to the extent that at one time the network was referred to as "Shawtime" by some.
  3. They needed a third American to balance out the "USA vs Europe" original feel of the tournament, and Dirrell did still have big upside, and there weren't many other options. Jermain Taylor got in, too. There aren't a lot of good American super middleweights, and there were less in 2009 when they all signed on than there are now.

Dirrell had been fighting guys like Shannon Miller, Anthony Hanshaw, and Victor Oganov at that time. He wasn't coming into the tournament a hot name, and he hasn't become any big star due to the tournament, either. His fight with Carl Froch was critically reviled as an unwatchable slopfest, because it was, and a lot of that was due to Dirrell looking as he had against Curtis Stevens, except Froch was able to make it uglier than Stevens because he's better than Curtis and could get close to Dirrell.

He followed that up with what was turning into a masterpiece performance against Arthur Abraham. I've expressed my doubts about the extent of Dirrell's injuries, but I don't have any warm regard for the obnoxious Abraham's actions, either. He hit Dirrell while he was down, clearly, and deserved to be disqualified.

Dirrell's team then put out the idea that "the paper had to be right" for him Dirrell to fight a contractually obligated bout with Andre Ward. But nobody in or anywhere near boxing, who could hear the industry rumors, ever thought that fight was going to happen, and it didn't. They never booked a venue. They never had a deal in place. And then Dirrell pulled out of the entire tournament with what Curt Menefee was forced to refer to as "head problems" during Dirrell's December comeback fight.

I've got no idea who advised Dirrell that ditching Haymon and Shaw was a good idea. Without Haymon and Shaw in his corner, can Dirrell do much to demand major fights? Does he want to demand major fights? I know he says he does, but there's not a lot of evidence, which isn't a first for Dirrell's public statements.

He's not a crowd-pleasing fighter. He does not have a major following. His home base to build one is in terrible financial shape and largely can't afford to go see him fight even if they wanted to, and there's no indication that boxing will ever be a successful sport in Michigan again.

This is a lot to overcome. As much as I respect any fighter taking this kind of career risk -- and it is a huge risk -- I just can't say that it seems like a good idea for this fighter. If he proves me wrong, then good. He'll have earned a lot of respect and congratulations if he does.

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