by David P. Greisman

Demetrius Andrade jokes that the reason he’s not getting fights with some of the other top junior middleweight names is because he is “tall, black and handsome” and can fight.

But then he gets serious:

“I don’t understand why they don’t want to accept a great challenge that the people and the fans want to see,” he said.

Andrade, a 27-year-old from Providence, Rhode Island, won the vacant World Boxing Organization title at 154 pounds back in November 2013 with a split decision over Vanes Martirosyan. He defended it last June with a dominant stoppage of mandatory challenger Brian Rose.

Now the names on the top of his list are Erislandy Lara, Jermall and Jermell Charlo, and Canelo Alvarez. None of those four has a world title. Two of the belts are held by Floyd Mayweather, who’s been fighting at welterweight and will be facing Manny Pacquiao this May in the biggest fight this sport has had in years. The other world title belongs to Cornelius Bundrage, who doesn’t bring much in the way of star value.

That leaves guys like Alvarez, who is a big star; Lara, who is a top contender and a tough challenge, and the rising Charlo brothers.

“I want to fight Lara. But I might not get that fight,” Andrade said. “I’m looking to get the Charlo brothers now, and of course Canelo. I got a belt. I don’t need to be calling out or looking for anybody underneath that caliber of fighter that’s calling himself the best, because I want to be able to prove that I am the best.”

Late last year, it was announced that Andrade would face Jermell Charlo on a Dec. 13 card. But Andrade didn’t go through with that for reasons that included the money being offered and the timing of the bout.

Even though Andrade hasn’t fought since last June, he stands by his decision.

“I definitely don’t regret it. The thing was with that fight was originally supposed to be for the next year [in 2015]. They pushed it for me to fight in December, and I got the notice in November,” Andrade said. “Me being a fighter, I want things to be done according to plan. I need enough time to prepare for a 12-round fight, and as a businessman, I’m like, what’s the money and is it worth the risk and the rewards. It wasn’t.”

Andrade says he was then sent another contract this past January to fight Charlo.

“I signed it, sent it out, he chose to fight Vanes,” he said.

Jermell Charlo and Vanes Martirosyan will face off on the March 28 broadcast on Showitme featuring a main event of featherweight titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez vs. Gary Russell Jr.

Andrade said that just because he was being offered $300,000 to fight Charlo last year doesn’t mean that he was going to get paid that amount.

“I got more money waiting. That’s what people don’t know. Instead of fighting Dec. 13, I got more money to sign [the new contract],” Andrade said. “January I signed. Why didn’t you [Charlo] sign?”

A point was raised that other fighters have taken less money in order to capitalize on an opportunity. For example, Zab Judah got just $100,000 for his rematch with Cory Spinks while Spinks got more than $1 million, but Judah knocked Spinks out and became the welterweight champion.

“I did that already when I fought Vanes Martirosyan,” Andrade responded. “I was supposed to fight, the champ before him was some guy from Russia, whatever his name is [Zaurbek Baysangurov], he pulled out of the fight. I spent over $20,000-plus on camp for a fight that didn’t come through. Now I got the opportunity to fight Vanes, so I spend another 20-plus. And then I fought Vanes for like 75, so what did that really come out with after all the expenses and stuff like that?”

“So I had my ‘bite the bullet.’ I fought Brian Rose. I’m not afraid to tell my numbers. 200 [thousand] I made. I should see more every time I step into the ring now. I bit my bullet fighting Vanes for the belt. ... He gave Lara a hard time and went to a draw. OK, I’ma do it.”

Given the fact that he’s not yet facing the other top names, how does Andrade keep himself motivated?

“I see the big picture. Greatness takes time,” he said. “Me, taking the time, I’m working on in and out of boxing life. I’ve invested my money into good business where I see dollars every single day, not only when I fight, so I’m good right now. I’m surviving. So of course I want to see way more and touch levels that I haven’t touched. But it is frustrating that I can’t get these fights.”

Part of that, Andrade said, is that the other fighters are with other promoters or are signed with powerful boxing adviser Al Haymon, and these boxers’ handlers either want the bouts to be in-house or will only go outside of their stables if they know a win will come.

Haymon, he said, “looks out for his fighters and he’s a great mentor and supporter of boxing for the fighters.”

Would he sign with Haymon?

“Due to my promotional contract, I have obligations with Star Boxing and Banner Promotions,” Andrade said. “And if we can do something with Al to bring up our horizon so I can catapult to new levels, yes I would love to do that because he is pretty much the business of boxing. He’s making everything happen at this point in time. If you can’t beat him, join him type of situation.”

Andrade has long been managed by Ed Farris, a businessman who he and his family know well and someone he trusts.

“That’s somebody I keep in my life,” Andrade said. “No matter what happens, he’s not looking to make money off boxing. Whatever I need or want, he makes it happen.”

And so any changes in management would only be to bring on someone like Haymon, he said.

In the interim, Andrade is staying in the gym, walking around no matter than nine to 15 pounds over the junior middleweight limit.

“I’m ready. I’m motivated,” he said. “At the end of the night the losers are going to lose eventually, and the winners are going to keep on winning and being great.”

Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide . Send questions/comments via email at fightingwords1@gmail.com