The narrative around WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade remains that the career-defining fight continues to escape him.
The 33-year-old Andrade (31-0, 19 KOs) has faced the likes Jason Quigley, Liam Williams, Luke Keeler, Maciej Sulecki, and Artur Akavov ever since winning the vacant 160-pound crown in 2018 against Walter Kautondokwa.
Rival promoters, as well as fighters Canelo Alvarez, Jermall Charlo, Gennadiy Golovkin and Jaime Munguia, have seemingly stiff-armed the undefeated American, calling into question his marketability.
Matchroom Boxing head Eddie Hearn is hinting at a plan to force the issue for the 13-year professional he promotes.
“Demetrius Andrade had a good year. Not the flagship fights that we want, but nice and active. Great win against Quigley last time,” said Hearn. “He's got the mandatory against Janibek [Alimkhanuly], but we need a bigger fight than that, in all honesty. So if we can't find it at middleweight, I think he'll move up to super middleweight and become mandatory there.”
All signs point to Andrade next fighting the 28-year-old Alimkhanuly (11-0, 7 KOs), a Los Angeles-based fighter from Kazakhstan who is Andrade's mandatory challenger. A purse bid is scheduled for Jan. 14. Alimkhanuly is promoted by Top Rank.
If Hearn and Andrade are to execute their master plan, it appears the move up in weight would have to wait till after the Alimkhanuly fight. The two-division champion Andrade has fought as a middleweight since October 2017, when he scored a unanimous decision against Alantez Fox.
Should Andrade announce his plans for 168, WBO bylaws indicate that he’d be billed as a “super champion” and become a mandatory challenger for the belt currently owned by the undisputed super middleweight champion Alvarez.
Having the WBO force the issue could perhaps prove to be the most feasible path for Andrade to land a big fight. If Alvarez values his titles and status at 168 – he wants to fight as a cruiserweight next – then he’d have to give in and face Andrade.
Most recently, undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk moved up from cruiserweight to heavyweight and landed a fight with Anthony Joshua and shocked the British boxer in a unanimous decision win because he was Joshua’s WBO mandatory.
For now, Alimkhanuly appears to be Andrade's next encounter. Alimkhanuly last fought Nov. 19 and scored an eight-round TKO against former world champion Hassan N'Dam.
On the night before, Andrade cruised to a second-round stoppage versus Jason Quigley.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com