On paper, this weekend’s fight between Andre Dirrell and James DeGale shapes up as a clash of southpaws. That will be true in the ring, too, at least until one of them makes the switch.
While both boxers are natural left-handers, both Andre Dirrell (24-1, 16 KOs) and James DeGale (20-1, 14 KOs) have the ability to alternate between orthodox and southpaw. The fighters likely will give each other varying looks after they step into the ring Saturday at Boston’s Agganis Arena as the Premier Boxing Champions series returns to NBC at 4:30 p.m. ET/1:30 p.m. PT.
Dirrell and DeGale will be fighting for the 168-pound title that was vacated by Carl Froch, who handed Dirrell his only loss in a split decision in October 2009.
Competing for the first time since winning a unanimous decision over Derek Edwards in December, Dirrell could be staring at a mirror image of himself in terms of style, although he claims, “I’m one of the best switch-hitters in the game.”
“I grew up fighting both ways. My grandfather had us doing it so much, that it became natural for me to switch up from left to right and then to switch right back. As time went on, it was something that I really didn’t pay attention to it. I just did it so naturally that it became second nature,” Dirrell says. “Being able to switch up throws guys off. It’s all the better when someone is expecting one thing and you can switch up and throw their whole game off. That gives them another look that they won’t have time to adjust to. I’ve become a very fluent switch-hitter, one of those guys who does it effortlessly.”
Longtime boxing writer Norm Frauenheim supports Dirrell’s assertion.
“Marvin Hagler is the best I've ever seen, but Dirrell is good,” Frauenheim said. “When switch-hitting is used to describe Dirrell, it always includes another word: awkward. I've often thought that the awkward element was a factor in the scorecards that went against him in his loss to Carl Froch. Judges, I think, tend to score against an awkward style. Dirrell’s switch-hitting can be effective at a lot of levels. It's a good defensive tactic that can throw an opponent off his game.”
DeGale has won 10 straight fights, including six by stoppage, since losing a 12-round majority decision to countryman George Groves in May 2011. In his last fight in November, DeGale dropped Marco Antonio Periban while in the southpaw stance en route to scoring a third-round technical knockout.
“He’s not as good as me at switching up, but he does switch up,” Dirrell said. “I’m just motivated to do everything I can to make sure that he doesn’t do it as successfully.”
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