Steven Butler wasn’t the first name on the list of opponents that Demetrius Andrade hoped to face for his next title defense.
For now, though, it’s a fight that will have to make do.
A mandatory defense between reigning middleweight titlist Andrade and Canada’s Butler has been ordered by the World Boxing Organization, with the two parties and their respective camps formally notified on Wednesday.
“We’re just going to keep fighting whoever they ask us to at this point,” Andrade (28-0, 17KOs) told BoxingScene.com when informed of the ruling. “If the WBO says he’s our mandatory then that’s my job and that’s who we’re fighting next.”
The two sides will have 30 days to negotiate terms or else be subject to a purse bid hearing. Representatives from either team can call for a purse bid hearing at any point during the negotiation period.
Andrade claimed the vacant WBO middleweight title in a 12-round win over previously unbeaten Walter Kautondokwa last October in Boston, Mass. He’s since made two title defense, both coming this year including a 12-round shutout of Poland’s Maciej Sulecki this past June in front of a near-capacity crowd in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. The only two names on his mind immediately after the fight were that of World middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (52-1-2, 35KOs) and former unified titlist Gennadiy Golovkin (39-1-1, 35KOs).
Alvarez, Golovkin and Andrade all fight under the DAZN banner—with Eddie Hearn having current promotional ties to Golovkin and Andrade—but that status hasn’t helped mix and match the three any more so than when the year began. Alvarez and Golovkin have fought twice but so far have yet to grant the wishes of DAZN brass of a third fight.
Neither have at all glanced in the direction of Andrade, despite his current title status.
“It’s so disappointing to constantly be avoided by the few top guys,” notes Ed Farris, Andrade’s manager. “I mean seriously, Canelo says he wants to unify the Middleweight division and that’s his goal to do before the end of the year.”
Those plans changed in a hurry, not to mention Alvarez is now even lighter in belt inventory than when the year began. He added the International Boxing Federation (IBF) strap to his collection that included the World Boxing Council (WBC) and World Boxing Association (WBA) titles following a 12-round win over Daniel Jacobs in May.
At the time, he was planning to fight again in mid-September, a time frame which Andrade was willing to honor even after a late June outing. It was even more so in line with his scheduled when Alvarez instead shifted focus towards his current Nov. 2 date.
Instead, he will move up to light heavyweight where he will face three-time light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev. It cost him the IBF middleweight title, which he was forced to vacate after failing to come to terms for a mandatory title defense versus Sergiy Derevyanchenko (13-1, 10KOs) who will face Golovkin for the now available title this weekend in New York City.
Alvarez could’ve held on to the title had his team filed for an exception, which is normally granted in the event of title unification.
“We agreed to fight him twice when asked,” points out Farris. “Then his team is so worried about Demetrius that they decide to move up two weight classes to fight someone else instead?
“What can we do? Except keep getting in the ring and winning.”
That will presumably lead to a mandatory defense versus Butler (28-1-1, 24KOs). The 24-year old contender from Montreal, Canada—who is managed by Camille Estephan and promoted by Golden Boy Promotions—is currently riding a 10-fight win streak, including six of his last seven starts at middleweight since moving up from the 154-pound division. He enters what would be his first career title fight on the heels of a 1st round knockout of Paul Valenzuela Jr. this past September at home in Montreal. His lone career fight in the United States came in his previous outing, a 10-round split decision win over Vitalii Kopylenko this past May in Las Vegas, Nev.
Butler’s credentials don’t exactly scream that of a superfight-level middleweight. At the same time, he’s also the only middleweight at the moment not heading in the opposite direction when Andrade’s name is mentioned.
“I’ve called out everyone over and over,” notes Andrade. “I can’t make them fight me but everyone is finally starting to figure out that I’m the guy everyone’s afraid of. So, that’s a compliment.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox