Demetrius Andrade and Liam Williams are finally one step closer toward finalizing a title fight, though not by their own doing.
The World Boxing Organization (WBO) is prepared to call a purse bid hearing this week to determine promotional rights for its middleweight title fight, BoxingScene.com has learned. The decision comes following the expiration of a 15-day negotiation period ordered between Andrade and Williams, with talks remaining at a standstill through the imposed Jan. 29 deadline.
Instead, the matter will be decided by a hearing held via Zoom conference call conducted at WBO headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The session will be open to all WBO-registered promoters.
“We’re heading to purse bids and go from there,” Frank Warren, Williams’ promoter confirmed to BoxingScene.com on Monday. “We’ll see what happens, but I really like Liam’s chances in this fight.”
The fight was formally ordered last March, shortly after Andrade’s 9th round knockout of Ireland’s Luke Keeler last January in Miami, Florida. The two camps entered preliminary talks, though proving moot as the initial wave of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic wound up shutting down the sport for the better part of three months.
Even as action resumed, the fight was not deemed as a priority. Both boxers were granted voluntary fights by the WBO, with the understanding that they would next enter a mandatory title fight. Williams (23-2-1, 18KOs) scoring a 1st round knockout of Andrew Robinson last October at BT Sport Studio in East London, which extended his current seven fight win streak. The run has come entirely at middleweight for the 28-year old Welshman, following a pair of losses to Liam Smith in the 154-pound division before moving up in weight.
Andrade has not fought since the aforementioned win over Keeler, which marked the third successful defense of a title reign dating back to Oct. 2018. The undefeated two-division titlist from Providence was penciled in for a non-title fight last November, only for those plans to fall through after scheduled foe Dusty-Hernandez Harrison tested positive for COVID. The matter was learned just one week before their Nov. 29th fight, leaving Andrade without a fight.
Rumors swirled of Andrade possibly moving up in weight to challenge WBO super middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14KOs). The pairing revisited old history between the two, as Saunders was a WBO middleweight titlist at the time he was due to face Andrade in Oct. 2018 in Boston.
The fight was scrapped after Saunders tested positive for oxilofrine, leaving Andrade to face—and soundly beat—Walter Kautondokwa for the vacant strap.
Renewed talks seemingly picked up steam before Saunders landed back at the forefront of a far greater prize, a super middleweight title unification clash with WBC/WBA champ Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. The bout is tentatively scheduled to take place in May, as long as Alvarez (54-1-2, 36KOs) first gets past Turkey’s Avni Yilidirim (21-2, 12KOs) whom he faces on Feb. 27 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
Andrade was already ordered to enter the 15-day negotiation period with Williams by that point, though he could have easily vacated his title to move up in weight for a shot at becoming a three-division titlist. Instead, he will have to settle for another mandatory title defense which is now at the mercy of the highest bidder.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox