Tag Archives: Andrade

UFC Fight Night 157: Weili Zhang Stops Jessica Andrade to Claim UFC Strawweight Title

By: Jesse Donathan

For many fans in North America, UFC Fight Night 157’s 3 am EST preliminary card start time didn’t exactly tap into the hearts and minds of the mixed martial arts community. With a roster packed full of fighters many casual fans simply have never heard of, more than a few followers of the faith were at home, in the bed, dreaming of next week’s UFC 242 Nurmagomedov vs. Poirier showdown.

It only took Black Tiger Fight Club representative Weili “Magnum” Zhang 42-seconds to become the UFC’s new 115-pound Strawweight Champion in dispatching Jessica Andrade by technical knockout in front of an ecstatic Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre crowd in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China this weekend on ESPN+. It was a historical moment for Zhang and the Chinese people and a potentially lucrative one for the UFC later down the line as Asia’s largest martial arts market was just given a reason to go all in and celebrate.

The fight started off with the pugilists finding each other easily, Zhang landing a pair of inside leg kicks before circling out to re-adjust. Zhang would again work the inside leg kick, flicking her jab out in order to maintain distance and give the advancing Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade something to think about. The two would briefly stand in front of each other and trade shots, the distinct audible sound of punches finding their mark noticeable to those perceptive enough to pick up on it.

Pressing forward, looking for the kill shot, Andrade would recklessly blitz Zhang with her chin up and hands down in an ill-fated attempt to make the challenger fight off of her backfoot in retreat, catching a right hook in the process that rang the now former Brazilian champions bell.

With her back against the cage and a stunned Andrade attempting to catch her bearings, Zhang would land a knee followed up with a number of stinging elbows before securing the Muay Thai clinch and expertly transitioning between repeated knee and elbow strikes to her trapped opponent. In trouble, Andrade would attempt to flee the onslaught with Zhang giving chase in an offensive onslaught reminiscent of Vitor Belfort versus Wanderlei Silva at UFC 17.5 – Ultimate Brazil in 1998.

Chased across the Octagon with Zhang in hot pursuit, it wouldn’t take long before Andrade ran out of real estate and found herself trapped against the fence with “Magnum” looking for the finish. With Andrade helplessly crumbled on the canvas, referee Leon Roberts was forced to intervene, calling a halt to the contest and preventing the former Brazilian champion from taking any further damage in route to Weili Zhang becoming the UFC’s first Chinese champion.

For a country of 1.4-billion people that has a culture that revers martial arts like China, Weili Zhang’s victory at UFC Fight Night 157 has tremendous implications for the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization who recently opened a UFC Performance Institute in Shanghai billed as one of the largest and most advanced in the word.

China is a tremendous financial market for the organization to dip into in their quest to become a global mixed martial arts organization and with Zhang’s victory this past weekend the UFC is well on their way to dominating the Asian market. Weili Zhang offers the Chinese people a foot in the door to the world of mixed martial arts and in the process, it is entirely possible Zhang is on her way to Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor-esk superstar status should she manage to defend the belt for any meaningful period of time.

Following her UFC Fight Night 157 TKO victory, UFC President Dana White expressed an interest to have Zhang fight stateside in the U.S., prompting the newly minted champion to openly discuss the VISA problems many of her cornermen are facing in coming to the United States in a small glimpse of the red tape involved in being a professional mixed martial arts fighter. Not the first or last time such problems have surfaced in MMA, with the obligations facing UFC champions Zhang will likely be operating on a skeleton crew until the problems are ultimately ironed out for good which could take some months or even years in some cases.

More Headlines

Where Does Demetrius Andrade Go From Here?

By: Hans Themistode

No one wants to be left at the alter. Yet, for Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs) he has continually been left without a partner.

For years Andrade has chased big name fighters. More often then not, he has been ignored.

High risk with a low reward has been the excuses used to avoid a fight with the former Olympian. Fans hate to hear it but it was actually a valid explanation. Andrade is good, great even. Hell some would venture to say that he’s the best fighter in the Middleweight division.

Sometimes in boxing it isn’t always about being the best. Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense.

When Andrade campaigned at the Jr Middleweight division he made it look easy. Fight after fight came with the same result, a win for Demetrius Andrade. He began calling fighters out, but to no avail. “Go win a title first,” Was what Andrade was told.

In 2013 he did just that, picking up the vacant WBO belt against Vanes Martirosyan.

Still, no one notable gave him the opportunity that he wanted. Instead of complaining, all Andrade continued to do was win, win and win some more.

His time as a Jr Middleweight led him to winning the WBO title on two separate occasions and defended it several times over. With no big fight in sight, Andrade made his move to the Middleweight division. With so many big names at the weight class, Andrade was bound to get a big fight right? Wrong.

After spending two years and once again capturing a world title, this time at his new weight, no one has seemed entirely eager about getting in the ring with him.

In recent weeks however, Andrade was linked to current WBA belt holder and mega star Canelo Alvarez as well as former unified champ Gennady Golovkin.

As is always the case with Andrade, neither fight happened with both men electing to take separate bouts. Golovkin opting to take on former belt challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko and Alvarez choosing to move up two weight divisions to face Light Heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev.

Neither Golovkin nor Canelo should be accused of ducking Andrade as they are both taking on huge challenges. Be that as it may, Andrade has no one left to face. At least, no one worth seeing him face. Andrade won’t stay idle, instead, he’ll most likely return to the ring against an inferior opponent.

It’s a shame, but it looks as though Demetrius Andrade has been left at the alter once again.

More Columns

UFC Fight Night 157: Jessica Andrade vs. Weili Zhang on ESPN+

By: Jesse Donathan

In the minds of many, Asia is the birth place of martial arts as we know it today. With China being the home to kung fu and birth place of the mixed martial arts visionary Bruce Lee, it’s only natural the world’s premiere MMA organization takes steps to break into one of the largest martial arts markets in the world. UFC Fight Night 157 is scheduled to take place Saturday, August 31, 2019 live on ESPN+ at the Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China at 6 am EST. The main event will feature a UFC strawweight title fight between the champion Jessica Andrade (20-6, 7 KOs) and China’s own Weili “Magnum” Zhang (19-1, 9 KOs).

Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade claimed the UFC strawweight title by slamming the former 115-pound champion Rose Namajunas into unconsciousness at UFC 237 back in May of this year. It was a fight that saw Andrade get thoroughly out kickboxed on her feet, with “Bate Estaca” at times resembling a punching bag as she plodded forward ever so slightly, pressing the attack, but doing little in terms of offense beside catching leather with her face.

Namajunas looked good on her feet while Andrade stayed determined and disciplined, with early indications of Andrade’s ultimate game plan showcasing themselves in the first with two slam attempts against the defending champion. Though it was a clear 10-9 round for the champion Namajunas, in retrospect, it was a harbinger of things to come.

In between rounds, Andrade’s corner could be heard commending their fighter for sticking to the game plan and commenting that Namajunas was tiring in a small glimpse of how championship teams strategically plot their way to victory. In the second round, Andrade would come out noticeably more aggressive as she chased the champion around the cage; it would go on for some time like this with Namajunas exerting quite a bit of effort in circling out to create distance, keeping the aggressive Andrade off of her who was pressing the action like white on rice.

Namajunas would again find Andrade on the end of her punches, although the Brazilian showed relentless aggression in attempting to close the distance. Eventually the Brazilian’s game plan in tiring the fleet of foot Namajunas out would succeed, as the reigning champion was found with nowhere to run with her back against the cage, enabling Andrade to pick to her opponent up into the air and slam Namajunas on her head, knocking the now former champion unconscious and bringing yet another UFC championship title back home to Brazil.

It is clear Andrade possesses the ability to force her will upon her opponents in order to create the situations necessary to ultimately execute the game plan she and her team have pulled from their offensive play book. She is an intelligent fighter who can compete anywhere the fight may find itself with a nearly even spread between TKO, submission and decision victories in her professional mixed martial arts career.

While Weili Zhang may have 19 straight mixed martial arts victories to her record, she is still a relative new comer to the Octagon, with her first fight with the promotion coming just over a year ago in August of 2018. Since that time, she has rattled off three straight victories as she walks into a championship bout with a 15-time UFC veteran in the champion Jessica Andrade. “Bata Estaca” has faced the superior competition throughout her career and is the vastly more experienced fighter coming into the cage Saturday night despite Zhang having a perceived physical advantage in the size department.

With the biggest test of Zhang’s career just over the horizon, some big names in the world of women’s mixed martial arts (WMMA) have weighed in on this weekend’s coming main event. Current WWE and former UFC superstar Ronda Rousey recently took to social media in praise of the state WMMA and mentioned Zhang by name in her remarks.

“I feel like a proud mama watching how women’s MMA has grown. Women from all walks of life, from all over the world are rising to the challenge and showing the world what it means to fight like a girl. Weili Zhang is a prime example of overcoming adversity – fighting not just through the ranks, but to also get noticed and stand out. I’ve definitely taken notice.”

Anything can and often does happen in the cage. On paper, Zhang is the larger, more powerful competitor in the Octagon and it would naturally be wise to utilize those assets in game planning for championship success. While Zhang does possess the foresight and technical ability to stay mobile in the cage, she is not particularly fleet of foot and does show a propensity to become stationary at times much like a deer stuck in headlights.

With the kind of aggressiveness and pressure Andrade is capable of applying to opponents, it would be wise of Zhang to avoid situations where she is caught flat footed in the cage and thus susceptible to quick, powerful offensive attacks which have the very real possibility of the changing the face of the fight. This is a very winnable matchup for both fighters, it will ultimately come down to a battle of wits in the Octagon in a contest of who can enforce their will and game plan upon the other in the more timely and dominant fashion.

About the author: Jesse Donathan is the UFC correspondent for BoxingInsider.com and owner and editor to MMAPressRoom.com. With over 25-years following mixed martial arts, Jesse’s first published MMA reports were in 2009 and more recently his work can be found at BoxingInsider.com, Boxing.com and FightPost.co.uk. Follow Jesse on Twitter at Jesse Donathan @The_MMAPress and MMA Press Room @MMAPressRoom for his latest published works and current events.

More Headlines

Should Jermall Charlo vs. Demetrius Andrade Finally Happen?

By: Hans Themistode

On June 29th the Middleweight division had two of their youngest stars on full display. WBC champion Jermall Charlo (29-0, 21 KOs) and WBO title holder Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs) successfully defended their crowns.

For Charlo, he easily dispatched of Brandon Adams. Andrade on the other hand, pitched a shutout against former title challenger Maciej Sulecki. Both of these performances were eerily similar.

October 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondokwa during their 12 round bout for the vacant WBO middleweight championship at the TD Garden in Boston, MA. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

For starters, both men fought in front of their hometown fans. Providence, Rhode Island for Andrade while Charlo performed in front of a ruckus crowd in Houston Texas. Neither man managed to score the knockout but they dominated from start to finish. Adams managed to win one single round in his fight against Charlo while Sulecki wasn’t awarded any rounds in his contest. In short, these men put on impresive performances.

It isn’t just their most recent performances that shows some glaring similarities, but its also their measurables as well. Both champions have a standing reach of 73 and a half inches. There isn’t much of a difference in terms of height either with Andrade standing at six feet one and Charlo at six feet even.

The Middleweight division is quite possibly the most star studded division in all of boxing. With names such as Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs its understandable. However non of them, with the exception of Canelo seems to have a higher upside.

The question begs to be asked, who exactly deserves a shot at the consensus best fighter in the division, Canelo Alvarez. Both men have clamored for a shot against the cinnamon headed unified champion. Each have a case to be chosen next, but who is more deserving? It’s hard to say as they are both supremely talented.

There is one simple way to decide, have them fight one another. With non of the other top tier fighters of their division in a rush to enter the ring with them, it is time for them to step into the ring against one another.

For years a bout between these have been discussed but never materialized. With both men associated with different networks, a fight between these two doesn’t appear likely. With that being said however, they need each other, now more than ever.

More Columns

What’s Next For Demetrius Andrade?

By: Hans Themistode

Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs) didn’t just defeat former title challenger Maciej Sulecki (28-2, 11 KOs) in front of his hometown crowd in Providence Rhode Island, he flat out dominated him. It was a one sided beating from start to finish. Neither of the three judges could find a single round to give to the challenger. It was the sort of performance will force the rest of the division to take notice. Simply put, Andrade was scary good. Now the question is, who’s next for the WBO belt holder?

May 22, 2019; Providence, RI; WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade and challenger Maciej Sulecki pose after the press conference announcing their June 29, 2019 fight at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

Jermall Charlo

As Andrade was performing in front of his hometown fans in Providence Rhode Island, WBC champion Jermall Charlo (29-0, 21 KOs) was performing in front of his own hometown crowd in Houston Texas. Charlo put on his own dominant performance against Brandon Adams.

These two have been linked to each for quite some time now. They are both undefeated and belt holders in the same division. They are considered by many to be the best young fighters at Middleweight, but who is the best? It’s time we ended the debate.

Gennady Golovkin

Former unified champion Gennady Golovkin (39-1-1, 35 KOs) is still a great fighter. He proved that much as he gave Steve Rolls a beating in his last appearance in the ring. Ask fans and media alike and many will tell you that Golovkin deserved the victory in both of his contest against, Canelo Alvarez (more on him later). Instead Golovkin had to settle for a draw and loss.

The long reigning champion still has something to prove. If he can win a fight against Andrade, not only will he show that he still is one of the best fighters in the division but it will also allow him to win the one Middleweight title he never possessed.

Canelo Alvarez

Pound for pound stalwart and unified Middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) has options. He can move up to Super Middleweight or even go as high as Light Heavyweight to take on bigger men. However, the cinnamon headed super star has a clear challenger in Andrade. It isn’t easy to get a fight with Canelo, but Andrade has earned it. There is a possibility of a third contest with Golovkin but to be frank, Andrade has placed himself slightly above the former Middleweight champion.

There is no need in finding out who makes the most sense for Canelo to take on next. His next test and quite possibly his biggest one is Demetrius Andrade.

More Columns

Demetrius Andrade Tosses Shutout in Title Defense over Maciej Sulecki

By Robert Aaron Contreras

On Saturday, middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17 KO) wanted to put on a show on for his hometown faithful as he knocked down Sulecki (28-2, 11 KO) in the first round, setting the tone early for what would be a shutout unanimous-decision victory at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Andrade’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.

Andrade, fighting in his own backyard for the first time in his 28-fight career, was firing from his hip like never before against Sulecki, who stood his ground. But Andrade, with heavier punches and supreme ring generalship, picked up every round, winning 120-107 across the board.

“Sulecki came forward the whole night and allowed me to use my tools,” Andrade said in ring after the fight before claiming to have carried Sulecki in hopes of securing a fight with the the other middleweight elite. “I gave people another great 12 rounds of boxing. Sulecki ain’t no pushover… He ain’t no Steve Rolls, ain’t no Rocky Fielding so Canelo [Alvarez] where are your cajones at—let’s get it. There is no more Top 10 guys anymore, I keep beating them. Where’s Canelo? Where’s Golovkin?”

“Forget the WBC shit, whatever that ‘franchise’ belt is. Canelo, let’s go. Let’s unify this division—let’s have one champion.”

The first two rounds saw Andrade more aggressive than ever. The defending champion opened the contest from a crouched position—at times nearly sitting on his heels—and exploding into offense. He pitched volley after volley of overhand lefts.

Taking time to send one or two to the midsection of Sulecki, changing the visiting fighter’s eye level, it wasn’t long before a couple of the winging punches ricocheted off the very top of the challenger’s forehead.

Sulecki was felled onto the seat of his pants within the first 60 seconds. Already at a disadvantage, Sulecki in the second frame attempted to match Andrade’s feints but was quickly overcome with more looping blows, while unable to land cleanly on the mobile champion.

Andrade, 31, didn’t bother throwing a real jab until the fourth stanza. His dynamic, occasionally wild, slugging attack was keeping the 30-year-old Sulecki at bay and the partisan crowd on their toes.

The action cooled in the middle stages. Andrade began relying on constant shifts, continually moving out and away from Sulecki’s right hand. The American would simultaneously swing his back foot around, avoiding Sulecki’s path, and slap his man with a right hand: then a left hook: another right, followed up with yet more stinging left hands. An overwhelming attack.

Andrade was just showing off in Round 7, crouching and sitting so low on his punches, the challenger landed sparingly as his target sank below even his waistline. Otherwise, Andrade was potshotting his way to victory with relative ease. He even dropped his hands, and navigating the roving area around Sulecki, springing in for jolting southpaw jabs and flinging left hands.

The championship rounds were more of the same. The closing minute saw Andrade dancing and shimmying, interchanging his shuffling feet with winging punches, as if mimicking the stylized methodology of Emmanuel Augustus. There were no more knockdowns, few moments of tension, and another easy win (albeit over a quality opponent) for Andrade.

According to punch statistics, Andrade landed 133 of 496 total punches (27 percent) of which 94 were power punches. Sulecki connected on 51 of 331 (15 percent), just 36 were power punches.

It was Andrade’s second title defense since lifting the WBO strap at the end of 2018, making for three wins over just the last eight months. All on DAZN, he is hoping that is enough to lure Canelo out of a superfight with Sergey Kovalev and instead into a 160-pound unification.

Joseph Parker, Khal Yafai take care of business in chief-support

Parker (26-2, 20 KO) and Yafai both needed impressive outings in Rhode Island. But each man seemed to fall short.

First, in a tenth-round knockout over former championship contender Alex Leapai (32-8-4, 26 KO), Parker looked discouraged after more resistance than expected from a washed heavyweight who will turn 40 in a few months.

“I haven’t been in the ring for half a year, I got more rounds than I expected. But damn he has a hard head,” Parker said, with Eddie Hearn standing next to him. “I’m very exciting about my deal with Matchroom [Promotions].”

The fight was still Parker’s from the beginning. The first round was him at his best: masking body punches with flairs upstairs, gently swiping his opponent’s guard and spiking Leapai’s gut with sharp punches. But by the second period, those punches were veering just too low for referee Ricky Gonzalez’s liking and Parker was warned twice.

Parker was back on the offensive over the next two rounds. Leapai found some success walking Parker down for moments in the third round and the first part of the sixth stanza. But the younger man’s jab saved the day, drilling the shot into Leapai’s head and body in Round 7.

Leapai’s nose was leaking by the eighth but Parker let him off the hook. Save for some right crosses, with Leapai missing wildly with overhands, the former champion hardly engaged in that round and the ninth. Alas, two minutes into the fateful tenth, Parker sent a right hand between Leapai’s gloves that made him stumble backwards. And moments later, a big right softened his knees and a follow-up uppercut was all referee Gonzalez wanted to see, waving the fight off.

When asked about his plans amid the new heavyweight landscape, Parker had a few names on his mind.

“I want to avenge the losses I have: Dillian Whyte and Anthony Joshua. Then I want to fight Andy Ruiz again. He thought he won. I won, that’s what’s in the record books.”

Tucked away under heavyweights despite being a title fight, Yafai, 30, turned away a brash challenger in Alberto Jimenez on scores of 117-109, 119-107, and 118-108. It was no surprise to see all three judges behind the defending champion. But referee Danny Schiavone was on his side too.

The first half of the 12-rounder included a point deduction from Jimenez for holding and Yafai ignoring a call to break from the referee, instead opting to deliver brutal punches to the challenger’s groin. The heinous shots at least opened up the action between the two and the second half of Round 5 was worth the price of admission—antithetical to the boxing lesson the defending champion orchestrated over the first four rounds.

In the seventh period, Jimenez was able to carve up Yafai’s guard. As well as nearly the entirety of the eighth frame. That is until Yafai killed all his momentum with more blows below the belt. And with Jimenez on all fours, referee Schiavone for some reason rushed him to his feet. He should’ve allowed Jimenez at least five minutes to collect himself.

It was all for not. Yafai went back to pelting at his man. The Dominican was complacent to jog off the clock, just like his first title opportunity back in 2014, biding his time far too long. And in the 12th round, the referee was back in the center of attention when he called a knockdown for Yafai. Yet replays revealed more of a cuff and push from the champion that simply threw Jimenez off balance.

Victorious, Yafai has now defended his belt five times, the most of any United Kingdom representative in boxing today.

More Headlines

Andrade vs. Sulecki Preview, Yafai and Parker Fight Preview

By Robert Aaron Contreras

On Saturday, Demetrius Andrade is up for his second title defense as he heads to his backyard of Providence, Rhode Island, where he won two pairs of National Golden Gloves, before reaching the quarterfinals of the 2008 Olympics, and eventually enjoyed an undefeated career in the pro ranks.

Also featured on the DAZN broadcast, in separate bouts, is light flyweight champion Khalid Yafai and one of the sport’s leading heavyweights in Joseph Parker.

The premium action kicks off at 9 p.m. ET and the undercard is set for 7 p.m. ET.

Demetrius Andrade (27-0, 17 KO) vs. Maciej Sulecki (28-1, 11 KO)

DAZN is sticking behind their man. The streaming service has aired Andrade’s last two fights—neither of which particularly moved the needle. Though Sulecki should actually give the American a run for his money.

Andrade, 31, is still the betting favorite—opening at -278 before the line was pushed to -600 approaching the weekend. Sulecki, as much as a two-to-one underdog, is fighting for his first world championship despite being a perennial contender between two divisions.

The defending champion rose to prominence amid a group of supremely talented junior middleweights, alongside Julian Williams and the Charlo brothers—all of whom won world titles. Andrade picked up his first championship belt in 2013 in a decision victory over Vanes Martirosyan. Then spells of inactivity killed most his momentum—in all he competed three times over the next three years. He defended the belt just once before being stripped by the WBO.

After some network freelancing, albeit getting by reasonably skilled fighters like Willie Nelson and Jack Culcay, Andrade agreed to terms with Matchroom Promotions that put him exclusively on DAZN. His title tilt with Sulecki represents the final leg of a three-fight deal.

Andrade’s first two showcases were nothing to write home about. He was given the right platform, headlining one show, where he stunk up the joint in a 12-round decision over the completely unheralded Walter Kautondokwa. His highlights: celebrating a knockdown too soon, nearly hitting the deck himself, and punching a downed opponent.

Of course Kautondokwa was no match for the American champ. Few are when Andrade is on his game. But another soft touch, Artur Akavov, was what fight fans had to settle for in his first middleweight title defense. The Russian challenger was severely outsized and couldn’t initiate an offense against the southpaw circling and buzzing around.

In Sulecki’s previous action, he nearly lost the opportunity to face Andrade. In the penultimate round against Gabriel Rosado, Sulecki ate a two-punch combo that sent him headlong overboard. The Polish banger touched the canvas once more but his early work and two knockdowns the other way were enough for a decision win.

Sulecki is still rated Top 10 in the world by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board. In 2018, he extended Daniel Jacobs but was forced to settle for a unanimous decision loss. Before that he met the aforementioned Culcay and beat the bruiser, surviving serious scares in the seventh and tenth periods. Andrade was also rocked badly in the 12th round of his meeting with Culcay, ultimately squeezing out a split-decision verdict.

Joseph Parker (25-2, 19 KO) vs. Alex Leapai (32-7-4, 26 KO)

Parker must’ve had mixed emotions when he was in attendance to see Andy Ruiz Jr. upend Anthony Joshua. On his way to facing Joshua himself, the Kiwi boxer-puncher defeated Ruiz on points in 2016.

At the beginning of the month when Joshua refused to continue, Parker was then set to face journeyman Eric Molina. But now Leapai, who stepped in on late-notice, is standing between Parker an a possible rematch with Ruiz or Joshua.

Parker wasn’t as lucky as Ruiz was against Joshua. Nor was he as prepared or aggressive. The heavyweight clash between Parker and the superstar Englishman quickly dissolved into a jab fest: Parker’s hands quick as ever but no match for Joshua’s battering rams.

To Parker’s credit, after the loss he was still recognized as the second-best fighter in the class, and didn’t waste any time against third-tier competition. He was immediately paired up with Dillian Whyte, a dangerous contender. Whyte employed any tactic the referee would let him get away with, putting Parker through a mauling affair, gaining an early lead. With the fight slipping away, Parker turned it up in the championship rounds which in flashes evoked images of the classic slugfests of yesteryear. But in the end Parked walked away with a decision loss.

He finally broke the losing skid in December 2018 against Alexander Flores, a heavyweight out of California who scraped together decent record against the domestic field. Parker turned it on earlier than ever, driving his man to the ropes in the first round. And by the third stanza, a two-handed attack slumped Flores through the ropes for an easy knockout.

Leapai, who trains out of Parker’s neighboring Australia, has a punch too. But not much else. Pushing 40 years old, Leapai has only beaten two separate men since 2013. He has been living off a shocking upset over rising heavyweight standout Denis Boystov, dropping the upstart twice. The win earned Leapai a crack at Wladimir Klitschko.

Klitschko at the time was unbeatable. His jab didn’t take long to set up a couple right hands that sat Leapai down for good in the fifth frame to close the book on the Samoan-Aussie’s cinderella story.

Leapai still had a reputation for a decent punch, smashing 24 of his first 30 victims. So after Klitschko turned him away, both Malik Scott and Manuel Charr sharpened their teeth by winning decisions over the fading heavyweight. Leapai has since remained in his adoptive home, going 2-0-1 over the last two years.

Khalid Yafai (25-0, 15 KO) vs. Norbelto Jimenez (29-8-4, 16 KO)

Now 30 years old, Kal Yafai has a long way to live up to his amateur pedigree or the Eddie Hearn promotional machine. The 2008 Olympian takes on Jimenez, an unknown Dominican, marking his fifth defense. Yet the most recognizable name during Yafai’s reign is likely Israel Gonzalez, who may be a hardened lad but basically Jerwin Ancajas’ leftovers.

It was a disappointing outing with Gonzalez. Especially considering how his IBF counterpart, Ancajas brutally dispatched the Mexican. Yafai never looked lethal, or as finely tuned as he did in his title-winning performance over a legendary warmonger in Luis Concepcion. The Englishman was even on the receiving end of vicious volleys from Gonzalez. He nonetheless won by 12-round decision but was left nursing a hand injury into 2019.

Previously, Yafai’s third title defense was a seventh-round knockout of David Carmona—his first KO in two years. But the champion didn’t act the part at all, fouling on numerous occasions, hitting his challenger low and on the way down. A cleaner performance will do him wonders this weekend.

Jimenez, 28, only has a couple notable names on his ledger. But he is undefeated since 2011, despite his many losses. He raked in all eight of them, remarkably enough, in his first nine fights, starting his pro career on a 1-8 mark. At least one of those fights came against decent opposition—for example, future bantamweight beltholder Juan Carlos Payano, who sparked him in two rounds.

The surging light flyweight has since leveled off at 115 pounds. He even earned his first world title opportunity in 2015, when he pulled out a split-decision draw against the blistering Kohei Kono. Kono, per usual, was the aggressor while Jimenez danced along the outside, occasionally showing off a rangy jab. But mostly opting for slashing hooks to the midsection in-between taunting the Japanese champion.

Recently, Jimenez hasn’t been too active. Saturday will be his first ring appearance in over a full calendar year.

More Headlines

Audition Time For Demetrius Andrade

By: Hans Themistode

WBO Middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs) has always possessed all of the talent in the world. He is after all a former olympian and a two weight world champion. He has continued to tell every and anyone that would listen that he is in fact the best that the Middleweight division has to offer.

It isn’t just all talk. Andrade seems to have the total package. Speed, power and an unmatched ring IQ. Andrade has it all. Even his contemporaries have sung his praises.

No matter how good the two division world champion is, he just can’t seem to get a big fight. That is some what common place in boxing isn’t it? The better you are the more you are avoided. Andrade however, has a golden ticket in front of him.

On June 29th, in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, Andrade will be taking on former title challenger Maciej Sulecki (28-1, 11 KOs). The aforementioned Sulecki is good, but Andrade should have his way with him on fight night.

This contes represents much more than just simply a title defense. It is essentially an audition.

Unified Middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez is believed to be not just the best Middleweight but also one of the very best fighters in the world. Currently, a third matchup between Canelo and former long time belt holder Gennady Golovkin is being discussed. Andrade has the chance to place himself firmly in the mix.

Canelo has said on numerous occasions that he wants to unify the entire division. Come Saturday night Andrade can show exactly why he should be next on the unified champions list.

The WBO belt holder can’t simply win, he has to be dominant. He needs the sort of performance that will make he fans clamor for a fight between the two.

This is his moment. He has chased all of the big names for a number of years now. With an eye catching performance against Sulecki, everything can change.

More Headlines

Andrade Eager To Face Sulecki In Front Of Hometown Crowd

By: Sean Crose

“Fighting at home,” says WBO world middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade, “is really exciting.” Andrade, a native of Rhode Island, will be having a homecoming fight this weekend, when he faces Maciej Sulecki at Providence’s Dunkin Donuts Center on Saturday night. “In a way it’s more exciting for the fans in Providence,” says Andrade, “as I’ve fought all over the world already. So, to give my hometown the chance to watch me display my skills, talent, work ethic is going to be great for them – they’re going to see greatness from one of their own. I’ve got two full passports from travelling the world and it’s a privilege to do that, to see the world and learn and gain experience, so to come home for such a big fight is great.”

May 22, 2019; Providence, RI; WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade and challenger Maciej Sulecki pose after the press conference announcing their June 29, 2019 fight at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, RI. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

At 20-0, Andrade is regarded as one of the most skilled, if not the single most skilled, fighter in the very competitive middleweight division. The fact that the undefeated 31-year-old fights on DAZN, the same streaming service that broadcasts the fights of Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin, Daniel Jacobs, and others, indicates that the future can be quite bright and lucrative indeed – provided, of course, that he get past the 28-1 Sulecki.

“I’m an Olympian and a two-weight World champion,” says Andrade, “but that’s not enough because there’s a lot of people that haven’t seen my talent displayed in the mainstream like some other fighters, like Canelo Alvarez, as Golden Boy did a great job moving him and GGG had great promotion too, but they’re not the greatest talents out there, they are just the most popular. It’s called prize fighting and I am looking to capitalize on that, with the capital.” Although his career has seen its share of quiet years (he only fought once a year between 2013 and 2017), Andrade is eager to now make is presence felt.

“I’ve got air in me now,” he says. “Should I have been the guy like Canelo with the machine behind him? Yeah, I could’ve been that, but it didn’t fall that way for me, but now I’m here. I kept my focus in mind, body and soul and continued to grind, because anyone else, this boxing game is hard and people give up, especially when there’s no money coming in as you have to pay the bills.”

“I’ve been through the politics of boxing and found my way out of it,” he continues, “just like I’ve found my way to win in every fight. Being who I am and having the team around me has got me to the point where I’m headlining the Dunk as an undefeated World champion.

More Headlines

Saul Alvarez to Face Gennady Golovkin or Demetrius Andrade

By: Waqas Ali

Saul Canelo Alvarez is on the verge of facing rival opponent Gennady Golovkin or American Demetrius Andrade.

The Mexican superstar recently defeated former world champion Daniel Jacobs in a twelve round unification bout on Saturday night.

The bout took place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas with over 20,000 in attendance.

Alvarez took Jacobs’ IBF middleweight title and added that to his WBA, WBC and Ring Magazine belts.

Making him one belt away from the WBO claimed by Andrade.

In the first round, both fighters were caution with their punches. Carefully not trying to get countered as they go on. In the last minute of the round, Jacobs (35-3) increased his activity level to try and steal the round.

Jacobs would take the early rounds based on his activity level and would often land some hooks on top to win rounds.

In the fourth round, Alvarez (52-1-2) came back with punches of his own and around the 43-second mark, Alvarez connected three straight left hands to Jacobs that got the pro-Alvarez crowd on the edge of their seats.

In round nine, as Alvarez continued to dominate with his power punches and swiftly providing good head movement and footwork, he was hit with a massive over-left hook by Jacobs that didn’t even drop him.

It was perhaps the most memorable punch in the entire fight.

At the end of the fight, Judges scored the fight 115-113, 115-113, 116-112 in Canelo’s favour after 12 rounds.

According to Compubox stats, Alvarez landed 188 of 466 (40%) punches thrown, whereas Jacobs landed 131 of 649 (20%) attempted.

Alvarez landed 121 of his power shots and connected at 45%. Also, in round 11 he landed 55% of his power punches.

For Jacobs, 32, this was a complete downfall statistic for him as he landed 32% in his previous eight fights. He landed 7 power shots per round in this fight with Alvarez after landing 12 per round in his previous eight fights.

Officially, Alvarez has had two bouts under the super-middleweight division and five at middleweight.

The question now remains is: Will Alvarez fight Golovkin for a third time or attempt for a fourth world title fight against Andrade?

During the build-up of the Jacob-Alvarez bout, ‘Canelo’ stated his desire to aim for the WBO belt and add to his collection.

“Nobody in Mexico has ever done that, won all four belts in one division, so that’s my motivation,” Alvarez said, before the Jacobs fight.

However, after defeating Jacobs, Alvarez is open to fighting Golovkin too.

“I’m just looking for the biggest challenge. That’s all I want. No, for me, it’s over,” he said regarding any unfinished business with Golovkin.

“But if the people want another fight, we’ll do it again, and I’ll beat him again.

“That’s why I’m here. That’s what I was born for — to fight, to defend what’s mine. I’ll fight anyone.

Gennady Golovkin is a fighter with an exceptional power ratio of 87% and known for activeness, punching ability, calculating puncher and haymaker hunting.

He had a 23 knockout win streak dating from June 2008 – March 2017.

Both fights with Alvarez were close in their respected styles and performances. Fans on the Golovkin side firmly believe that both results of the bouts were exceptional robberies.

Both GGG and Andrade have fights later this year and have to win in order to secure themselves a bout with Alvarez.
By the numbers, Golovkin who is ranked no.3 Pound for Pound (by Boxrec), throws at a high amount of 64 punches which is nine more than the average middleweight (55) and lands at 25 (39%). The average middleweight lands at just 16 (30%).

In the power punching department, Golovkin throws around 35 with a connect rate of 44%. The average middleweight throws around 31 with a rate of 37%.

With regards to Andrade, his record consists of 26 wins (16 KOs) and zero defeats.

In the amateurs, he defeated future world champions like Keith Thurman, Austin Trout and Daniel Jacobs.

The 30-year-old, who holds the WBO middleweight belt has a great sense of style of being cautionary with his combinations and as a southpaw can be a limit for his conventional opponents on landing their jab.

His body movement is a positive asset, considering the fact that he is able to move away from any return shots.

Alvarez has not faced a competitive southpaw with lateral foot movement since Erislandy Lara in July 2014 in which he only landed five jabs out of his 97 landing total. A bout with these two would be interesting.

In terms of statistical data, he throws around 60 and lands at 18 (30%). By the power punches, he attempts 32 with a connect rate of 45%.

Another fighter that has entered the debate but not on the mainstream spectrum as of yet is current WBA and Ring Magazine Super-middleweight champion. Callum Smith. The Liverpool-born fighter has a record of 25 wins and no defeats.

He’s also tall with a height 6 feet 3 inches and a reach advantage of 78 inches. Smith is known for his active punching ability and body shots. Ironically, body shots are also favouritism of Alvarez’s punching of expertise.
Especially the left hook to the body.

His notable opponents that he defeated are Rocky Fielding & George Groves.

According to a poll conducted by Editinking, out of 5,100 plus voters, 59% chose Alvarez to beat Smith and 41% for the English fighter.

The boxing world is up and rolling by naming who should Alvarez fight next. Both fights are interesting as many of the Golovkin fans want to see vengeance taken against the Mexican based on the last two disputed results. Politics is a dangerous game and has a long history with boxing. Going as far as 150 years ago. Andrade is in a good position as he could prove how much has in value of his style and skills against one of the biggest names in boxing today. Though he did not manage to prove his name against Billy Joe Saunders but no doubt against Alvarez, it will be a mega-fight. Smith is a good name and also a possible threat to Alvarez. He’s tall and possesses good power to really knock his opponent off the canvas. Being England and his hometown of Liverpool, the fight would definitely be a huge sell in the UK. Venues like the Echo Arena, Manchester Arena, O2 or even Wembley stadium would be a big attraction. Liverpool is a passionate crowd for their heroes and figures and are always behind them. It wouldn’t be a surprise to many if a crowd was a majority pro-Smith rather than pro-Alvarez in the UK.

More Columns

Demetrius Andrade vs Billy Joe Saunders: The Makings of a Great Technical Fight

By: Waqas Ali

As we edge closer to the making of this bout, fans are filled with anticipation.

Former champion Billy Joe Saunders looks like he will get a chance to recapture his WBO middleweight crown as he appears to be close to fighting Demetrius Andrade, who holds the belt.

October 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondokwa during their 12 round bout for the vacant WBO middleweight championship at the TD Garden in Boston, MA. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

The pair were initially meant to fight on October 20th 2018, but when Saunders tested positive for a banned substance called Oxilofrine in August, it cost him a licence from the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.

Saunders then vacated the belt in fear of being stripped.

Andrade (27-0) fought for the belt against Walter Kautondokwa and won by unanimous decision.

He then recently stopped Artur Akavov in the 12th round to make his first successful defence of the belt.

Andrade, 30, was then ordered by the WBO to negotiate a deal with Saunders within 30 days.

“They’ve called purse bids,” Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren said.

“We’ve got a negotiation period then we’ll go to purse bids.”

He continued, “Good news for Bill, we worked very hard to get him back in the number one spot. He should be the champion.”

Currently, Saunders is the no.1 challenger by the WBO and ranked no.3 by Ring Magazine in the middleweight division.

His recent bout was over a month ago when he fought on the undercard of Josh Warrington vs Carl Frampton in December 2018.

Saunders, 29, defeated Charles Adamu via fourth-round TKO. But the bout itself was not part of BT Sport’s live TV coverage.

It was his first win since defeating David Lemieux in December 2017.

Amongst boxing fans on social media Saunders is the favourite to win against Andrade.

According to a poll conducted by boxing fan page Editinking on Twitter, out of 4,900 plus voters, 65% of them picked Saunders by decision, 15% by KO/TKO and only 14% for Andrade by points.

Saunders even tweeted as a response upon hearing the WBO’s request for Andrade to fight the Englishman.

Saying: “I’ll take that thank you ‘ #ITsMeAgain”

The scorpion inside the system of Saunders is suddenly starving for its prey.

But what styles and statistics support each fighter?

Saunders has a record consisting of 27 wins and zero losses.

His height is five feet 11 inches and a reach of 71”. He’s fought once outside the UK and averaged 716,000 in terms of viewership for the main event against Lemieux, according to Showbuzz Daily.

In terms of competition, he’s fought Chris Eubank Jr, Andy Lee and David Lemieux.

According to Compubox review, Saunders throws more jabs (25) than he does with power (13) punches per round.

The average middleweight throws around 57 and lands at a rate of 16 per round. Whilst Saunders only lands at 10. His connecting of jabs rate at six, whereas the average fighter lands at four.

The defence of Saunders is a plus point when only 18% of punches landed by his opponents with seven landing per round. That’s only half of the middleweight average.

Saunders is often known to be a 12 round fighter and hardly looks for a knockout. Considering the fact that 13 of his 27 wins were by decision. In his last six wins, four of them were point’s wins.

He starts off cleanly using his footwork and jabbing to the head and body. He uses his head movement really well and avoids exchanges.

Andrade is a bit taller at 6 foot 1 and a reach of 73”. He is already a two-weight world champion and 17 of his 27 wins come by KO. In his last six wins, three were by decision and three by KO.

Andrade’s activity level is reasonably high, considering the fact that he throws around 60 punches per round and lands around 18.

Another stat of a plus point is the power punching department. He throws around 32 and lands at 14 punches per round. That is three times higher than the average middleweight. He has a connect percentage of 45% and rest of the middleweights land at 37%.

One must keep in mind that Lemieux also had a higher activity and landing rate than Saunders but did not do enough to win and had no solution whatsoever to the style of Saunders.

Nobody can underestimate the talent of both fighters and the kind of skills, styles and seriousness they bring to the table. The compatibility is great. The numbers suggest the kind of game each fighter likes to play. Saunders is more of a chess player and could as well lead in the jab category. Andrade could as well lead in the power and connecting rate. But many questions will be asked. How will Andrade keep up with the footwork and timing of Saunders? Will he be able to keep up with the activity rate? Will Saunders produce a thrilling performance against Andrade as he did with Lemieux?

More Columns

DAZN Boxing Results: Cano Stuns With First Round KO Of Linares, Andrade Dominates Akavov

By: Sean Crose

New York native Amanda Serrano made an enormous splash at the Theater at Madison Square Garden Friday night as she won her 7th – that’s 7th – world title in stunning fashion, stopping Eva Voraberger within seconds of the first round of their title bout with a tremendous body shot. By besting Austria’s 24-5 Voraburger within 35 seconds, the 36-1-1 Serrano earned herself the WBO super flyweight title. A high profile bout with the undefeated Katie Taylor may be in Serrano’s future.

Photo Credit: Matchroom Boxing Twitter Account

Chris Algieri stepped into the ring next to face former sparring partner Daniel Gonzalez. Since New York’s Algieri was essentially fighting on his home turf, it was easy to consider the match not much more than a tuneup walking in. Gonzalez held his own, however. What’s more, the 23-3 Algieri looked like, at 34, he had aged a bit. Ultimately, it didn’t matter. Algieri earned a unanimous decision win against the 17-1-1 Gonzalez. Surprisingly, some in the crowd booed at the decision.

Next up was Irish/Australian IBF junior featherweight champ, the 20-0 TJ Doheny. His opponent was the 16-3-1 Ryohei Takahashi of Japan. Takahashi took the fight on a few weeks notice, and looked outclassed by his stronger, sharper punching foe. In the third, Doheny sent his man to the mat. Takahashi got up, but Doheny continued to land powerfully and essentially dominated. Referee Michael Ortega stopped the fight in the twelfth while Takahashi was receiving punishment.

In the co-main, Jorge Linares, 45-4, fought Pablo Cesar Cano, 31-7-1, in a scheduled 12 round super lightweight affair. A Cano right hand took Linares down in the first. Linares got up – and then went down again later in the round. He went down once more, got up once more, and took more punishment. The referee wisely stopped the fight. It was a stunning upset and a brief, brilliant performance from an impressive ring veteran.

It was time for the main event. The 26-0 Demetrius Andrade stepped into the ring to defend his WBO middleweight title against the 19-2 Artur Akavov. Andrade looked like his athletic, sharp self in the first, dominating the tempo and landing effectively. The second round was a close affair, though Andrade seemed to have edged it. The third round was close, as well, with Akavov catching Andrade with a quick uppercut.

Andrade came around at the very end of the fourth, but it was proving to be a close fight, with Andrade’s skill and Akavov’s awkwardness playing well off one another. Andrade’s jab told the story in the fifth, as it was becoming clear that Akavov couldn’t land cleanly or often on his man. The sixth saw Akavov unable to get in range. By the seventh, things had become completely one sided, with Akavov simply looking outclassed and perhaps a bit wiped out. Andrade continued his pattern of hitting and not getting hit in the eighth.

Akavov actually had a few moments in the ninth where he looked to be starting to dominate. Andrade, however, was able to keep his range. Akavov did so little in the tenth, that one had to wonder if he’d actually make the final bell. The eleventh was more target practice for Andrade, who seemed to want to stop his helpless foe, but simply may not have had the power to at middleweight. However, with Andrade banging away at his man, the fight was stopped by the referee late in the twelfth. The fans and the DAZN broadcast team seemed unhappy and perplexed, but referee Arthur Mercante was clearly willing to err on the side of caution.

“You put GGG in front of me,” said Andrade after the win, “I’m gonna destroy him.”

More Headlines

DAZN Boxing Preview: Andrade vs. Akavov

By: Michael Kane

It’s Friday night fight night this week as WBO middleweight champion Demetrious ‘Boo Boo’ Andrade makes the first defence of his title when he takes on Artur Akavov (19-2, 8 KOs).

Andrade won the belt by beating Walter Kautondokwa for the vacant title after champion Billy Joe Saunders vacated due to facing a ban for an adverse drug test.

The 30 year old Andrade (26-0, 16 KOs) will be looking to put on a show at the Madison Square Garden Theater on a card that features several title bouts.

The 33 year old Russian, Akavov, beat Gonzalo Gaston Coria by unanimous decision in May 2018. He is a former WBO European champion and has faced former champ Billy Joe Saunders, falling to an unanimous decision defeat in 2016.

Andrade will be looking to put on a good performance to open up the chance of unifying the division against the likes of Canelo Alvarez, Rob Brant and Daniel Jacobs.

Irishman TJ Doheny (20-0, 14 KOs) defends his IBF super bantamweight title when he takes on Japan’s Ryohei Takahashi (16-3-1, 6 KOs).

This will be Doheny’s first defence having won the belt in August last year by unanimous decision against Takahashi’s compatriot, Ryosuke Iwasa.

Takahashi is on a 5 fight win streak which includes winning the IBF Pan Pacific super bantamweight title.

The third world title fight on the card will see Amanda Serrano (35-1-1, 26 KOs) bid to become world champion in a 7th weight class. Serrano will face Era Voraberger (24-5, 11 KOs) for the vacant WBO super flyweight title. The Austrian, Voraberger has also won a couple of titles at different weight classes.

Also on the card, and likely to be chief support to the main event is the ever popular Jorge Linares (45-4, 28 KOs) who is on the trail of another world title shot. Linares takes on Mexican Pablo Cesar Cano (31-7, 21 KOs). Both men will be fighting for Cano’s WBC International Silver title.

Another former world champion Chris Algieri (22-3, 8 KOs) faces Daniel Gonzalez (17-1, 7 KOs) on the card.

The event will be shown live on DAZN in the U.S and on Sky Sports in the UK.

More Headlines

Demetrius Andrade: “My Job Is To Win”

By: Sean Crose

“It feels great to be out so soon,” says WBO middleweight champ Demetrius Andrade. “It’s the first time that has happened to me for so long…it used to be eight months or once a year, so it just goes to show the difference between the levels of promoters that you go with.” The 26-0 Rhode Island native is set to face the 19-2 Artur Akavov this Friday night at New York’s Madison Square Garden Theater in a bout that will be aired live on the DAZN streaming service. Since teaming up with British super promoter Eddie Hearn, the once inactive Andrade is on the road to being one of the more active name fighters in the business.

“Eddie is keeping me active and he knows that the more active I am the better the fighter I am,” says Andrade, whose last bout was a sound decision win against Water Kautondokwa at the TD Center in Boston last October. “Eddie wants to make a statement, show people that the way it’s done in the UK is how it should be done in the US, he’s young and I am too – we have the same hunger, he wants to be the top promoter and I want to be the top fighter. Knowing I can be one of the leading fighters on DAZN and they are doing a great job all around.”

Although well regarded, undefeated, and in possession of a title, Andrade still feels he has something to prove. He’s not, however, letting some dry spots on his resume get the better of him. “I’m undefeated,” he says, “(a) 2008 Olympian, and everyone has their time and obstacles to get over.” Matchroom Boxing, the force behind the Andrade-Akavov fight, states that “ Andrade’s clash with Akavov is part of a huge triple-header of World title action at Madison Square Garden, as TJ Doheny defends his IBF World Super-Bantamweight title against Japan’s Ryohei Takahashi.”

“I’m not satisfied,” Andrade says. “I’ve always been at the top but now I’m growing in the top of the mainstream. The boxing world knows I’m the baddest man out there but not having the right promotion behind me putting me out there has hurt me and that’s why I’ve made the changes and Matchroom and DAZN know what I can bring and they can move me to the next level – my job is to win.”

More Headlines

Demetrius Andrade To Face Artur Akavov At MSG January 18th

By: Sean Crose

“I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity,” WBO middleweight champ Demetrius Andrade claims. “Fighting at Madison Square Garden, where so many great fighters have fought is a true honor, and something I have dreamt about my entire life.” Andrade, who won the title last October in Boston against a game, yet vastly outgunned, Walter Kautondokwa, will indeed be fighting in Madison Square Garden as he engages in his first title defense on January 18th. The 26-0 Rhode Island native will be facing the 19-2 Artur Akavov in his first title defense, which will be aired live through the DAZN streaming service.

October 20, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondokwa during their 12 round bout for the vacant WBO middleweight championship at the TD Garden in Boston, MA. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA

Matchroom Boxing which is promoting the bout, claims “‘Boo Boo’ (as Andrade is known) now wants to become an active champ as he targets unification battles in 2019.” This statement is an interesting one, as middleweight kingpin Canelo Alvarez himself now fights on the DAZN streaming service. First, though, Andrade must get past Akavov, who in 2016 gave Billy Joe Saunders (who was set to face Andrade last October before he tested positive for a banned substance) all he could handle before dropping a decision to the Englishman.

“People might not know much about Akavov,” says Andrade, “but this is a guy who went overseas and gave Billy Joe Saunders absolute hell. Most people thought that he should have won the fight.” Andrade, whose activity level was questionable before hooking up with Matchroom honcho Eddie Hearn and DAZN, makes it clear that he’s now eager to challenge himself regularly. “This is an optional defense,” he says, “so I could have fought anyone I wanted, but we chose to fight a guy that we know is going to bring it all night long and a guy who in many people’s eyes beat Saunders.”

“After the fight with Saunders,” says Akavov, “I was hoping for a rematch because that fight left a lot of unanswered questions…I believe that Andrade is a better fighter than Saunders and this is my chance to answer those questions. I understand the weight of the responsibility that is on my shoulders and will give it 100 per cent.” Former lightweight champ and Vasyl Lomachenko foil Jorge Linares will appear on January’s card, as will Amanada Serano, who will be gunning for the WBO world super flyweight title. Chris Algieri, the former junior welterweight titlist, Manny Pacquiao opponent, and nutritionist of note, will be appearing on the card, as well, as part of his comeback to regain prominence.

More Headlines