By Thomas Gerbasi
It will be a weekend of firsts for Demetrius Andrade, but as he prepares for his first pro fight outside of the U.S. and his first fight as a world title challenger, the Rhode Island native is calm, cool and collected as he conducted an interview at 11pm local time in Germany on Wednesday.
“I’m a United States citizen,” he laughs. “That’s the time zone I live on.”
The 29-year-old does admit that adjusting to the time difference and also dealing with the food situation as he gets ready to make weight for his bout against WBA junior middleweight champion Jack Culcay can get annoying at times. But he’s dealing with it well, saying that his weight is on target and that he’s, “Getting the proper rest time I need to prepare for battle come fight night.”
If he’s being honest with himself, Andrade probably never thought he would be seeing Ludwigshafen, Germany after he defeated Vanes Martirosyan for the vacant WBO 154-pound crown in November of 2013. But after being stripped of the belt for inactivity in August of 2015 after just one defense against Brian Rose, he’s been forced into the role of challenger for the first time following back-to-back knockout wins over Dario Fabian Pucheta and Willie Nelson. And he’s had to take his show on the road to take the WBA belt held by the man he defeated in the 2007 world amateur championships.
None of this bothers Andrade though, as he’s willing to do what BB King once sang, and that’s pay the cost to be the boss.
“Boxing’s not safe,” he said. “You have to take challenges. And there’s a lot of people who wanna be like, ‘You can throw me in the jungle or anywhere and I’ll be the Lion King,’ or whatever. (Laughs) But are they actually doing that? So I’m showing proof that I’m going all the way overseas to fight a guy in his backyard. Yes, he’s the titleholder, but I’m a guy who believes in my technique, skills, ability and God, and my left hand and right hand are gonna do all the damage and the talking for me. So I have full confidence in what I have and I believe I’m the best at 154 pounds and I’m willing to get in the ring with anybody.”
A win over Culcay would lift Andrade’s pro record to 24-0, and then once he has a belt again, the fun begins, as there are plenty of intriguing matchups for him at 154 pounds, including newly crowned Jarrett Hurd, Jermell Charlo, Erislandy Lara and Erickson Lubin. And if promotional issues don’t get in the way of those matchups, Andrade could fulfill that star potential.
“I haven’t done the things that I’ve wanted to do in boxing and I’m not where I’m at in boxing for the people outside of boxing to recognize who the real deal really is,” he said. “So, of course, the hunger is there to let the people, and also myself, know that I’m the best and this is what I have to do. There is no easy route and it’s not like everybody is just going to jump in the ring with Demetrius Andrade, so that’s why I’m here now. This is a way of showing the people that I’m not afraid. It’s not a politics thing, I don’t a matchmaker to tell me who to fight, when to fight, how to fight; I need to let the fans see that I’m about making great fights.”
The time may be finally right. And luckily, the New Englander is still young enough at 29 to reach those heights he’s gone to Germany to reach again. In other words, it’s a good time to be “Boo Boo.”
“There’s no damage here, I haven’t been getting hit, and also in the 154-pound division, people are starting to see that it ain’t a division unless Demetrius Andrade is in the mix,” he said. “If you take me out of the mix, who’s left to really claim it? Where’s the real talent at, because the fights are not being made? With me in the mix, there are great fights left to be made in the division and that’s the beauty of it.”