WBO champion Demetrius Andrade returns to South Florida for his second consecutive fight

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Santos A. Perez
·4 min read
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World champions rarely make repeated appearances in South Florida to defend their belts. For many titleholders, fighting locally is usually a one-off and then it’s on to other destinations.

Over the past 20 years, some of boxing’s renowned world champions fought in local venues. Floyd Mayweather Jr., Felix Trinidad and Roy Jones Jr. defended their titles at AmericanAirlines Arena and Bernard Hopkins appeared at Miccosukee Resort and Gaming.

More recently, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin validated their local appearances with title defenses at Hard Rock Stadium and Hard Rock Casino, respectively. The odds are unlikely that neither of the former middleweight rivals will fight here again.

One champion, however, is about to defy the norm. World Boxing Organization titleholder Demetrius Andrade returns to South Florida Saturday night for his second consecutive fight and fourth defense of his middleweight belt.

Andrade will fight Liam Williams at the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood. The bout headlines a six-fight card.

“It’s great to be back fighting in Florida again,” said Andrade, of Providence, Rhode Island. “I’ve trained in Miami for a few of my fights and I love it here.”

The match against Williams will end Andrade’s 14 months of inactivity. When last seen inside a ring, Andrade retained his title, stopping Luke Keeler in nine rounds at a temporary facility built on Watson Island to accommodate events during Super Bowl LIV week.

“We did the fight before the Super Bowl which was a great week and now we’re back again, and I hope that I can fight here again in front of a massive crowd when all the fans are back,” Andrade said.

Andrade (29-0, 18 KOs) has campaigned for bouts against elite middleweights Golovkin, Billy Joe Saunders and Jermall Charlo to no avail. Consequently, he continues to face the available challengers like Williams.

“Liam is not someone that’s been on my radar, just speaking facts, because he’s not an elite fighter that people tune into,” Andrade said. “I can only fight the people that are willing to get in the ring with me, like Liam.”

A 2008 U.S. Olympian, Andrade won the WBO title with his lopsided decision over Walter Kautondokwa in October 2018. Andrade also had a stint as super-welterweight titleholder.

After successful middleweight title defenses against Artur Akavov and Maciej Sulecki in 2019, Andrade expected a busier 2020 beyond the bout with Keeler. But the lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Andrade’s extended absence.

Confident of retaining his belt again Saturday, Andrade will keep calling out the elusive champions. Golovkin and Charlo, the other sanctioning body middleweight titleholders have no defenses scheduled yet this year. Saunders has moved up to super-middleweight, won a title and will fight Alvarez on May 8. Meanwhile, Alvarez plans to consolidate all super-middleweight belts in 2021.

“People sit there and say why isn’t Demetrius fighting X, Y and Z, but who is fighting who?” Andrade said. “Where are these other guys coming from that are fighting each other? The biggest names that Canelo has fought have been on their way out, that’s his resume. And it’s a good resume, but he hasn’t fought his best opponents in their prime.

“I have fought tough guys that have been given the chance to win a world title and they have given their all. The guys I have fought are better than Canelo’s last [opponent] Avni Yildirim. They are better than Billy Joe’s last, Martin Murray.”

Williams (23-2-1, 18 KOs) believes that Andrade’s attention to the imaginary matches could become his opportunity to dethrone the defending champion.

“I think he might overlook me, possibly,” Williams said. “To be honest, maybe he has deserved to get a fight with Canelo, GGG [Golovkin]. “But his time is up now and once I deal with him, I’ll get those fights.”

Saturday’s title bout will be streamed live on DAZN. Similar to the previous three previous boxing events at the Hard Rock Casino, no spectators are allowed.

Coming up

Saturday (8 p.m., Fox-Ch. 7): Tony Harrison vs. Bryant Perella, 12, super-welterweights.

Saturday (9 p.m., Fite TV): Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren, 8, cruiserweights; Regis Prograis vs. Ivan Redkach, 10, super-lightweights.