Demetrius Andrade didn’t even know Luke Keeler existed before the Irish contender was presented as a potential opponent late last year.
The undefeated Andrade was just being honest, not dismissive, when he told BoxingScene.com he was completely unfamiliar with his upcoming opponent to that point. The southpaw from Providence, Rhode Island, has familiarized himself with Keeler since their fight was made, but he isn’t particularly concerned about Keeler’s skills entering their 12-round fight for Andrade’s WBO middleweight title Thursday night at Meridian at Island Gardens in Miami.
“I didn’t know who he was before they brought him up to me,” Andrade said. “That’s not saying that he’s not a tough fighter or a worthy fighter. I just haven’t heard of him because those type of people aren’t on my radar. Not that he isn’t good or a tough guy. It’s just my radar’s more on Triple-G, Canelo, [Jermall] Charlo, Billy Joe Saunders. Those are the type of guys I’m looking to get in the ring with because they’re gonna help bring me up to the standard and the caliber I want. My skill and my popularity ain’t the same, so I’ve gotta bring my popularity up a little more. It’s gonna be fighting those types of guys, of course.”
An inability to get the types of high-profile fights he wants has relegated Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs) to facing Walter Kautondokwa, Artur Akavov, Maciej Sulecki and Keeler since signing contracts with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA and DAZN. Andrade at least will defend his 160-pound championship against the unknown Keeler (17-2-1, 5 KOs) as part of Super Bowl LIV week in Miami, where Kansas City and San Francisco will play Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium.
“If I can’t get in the ring with them type of guys right away,” Andrade explained, “then it’s about being on the correct platform, being in the right city and having people that haven’t really seen me see me. Then they’ll demand seeing Demetrius Andrade against the guys I just mentioned.”
Dublin’s Keeler, 32, knocked down Luis Arias twice in his last fight, a 10-rounder Keeler won by unanimous decision August 3 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Four bouts before Keeler beat Arias (18-2-1, 9 KOs, 1 NC), he fought to a four-round draw with Adam Jones, who was 7-29-5 entering their fight.
Andrade and Keeler, the WBO’s third-ranked middleweight contender, have traded insults since they began promoting their DAZN main event early this week in Miami. Keeler contends Andrade hasn’t accomplished much, despite that the 31-year-old champion has won world titles in two weight classes.
The heavily favored defending champion has laughed off Keeler’s criticism.
“Keeler’s funny,” Andrade said. “I heard one of his quotes where he said he’d fight me for free, so he could try to get the opportunity to fight Canelo or somebody like that. It’s funny because if he already was a champion or somebody within range, then [Canelo] probably would fight that guy because Luke Keeler’s probably not much of a threat. But for him to say he’d fight me for free, hey bro, don’t rush your ass-whupping that’s coming to you. You’ve got an ass-whupping coming. Don’t rush. Don’t rush your ass-whupping, kid.
“I understand you’ve gotta give yourself the hype and the confidence that you need to prepare. It’s not easy, but don’t forget who you’re fighting now. There’s a reason why these guys don’t get in the ring with me. And you’re gonna be a prime example come fight night.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.