Demetrius Andrade is considering a path that could lead to a third divisional title while ending his current reign.
There remains a glimmer of hope that he could have his cake and eat it, too.
Three sources have confirmed to BoxingScene.com that Providence’s Andrade (31-0, 19KOs) is revisiting plans for a super middleweight showdown with England’s Zach Parker in lieu of a mandatory WBO middleweight title defense. Andrade is currently on the hook to next face Kazakhstan’s Janibek Alimkhanuly (11-0, 7KOs) in a WBO-ordered title, with a purse bid currently scheduled to take place this Friday at WBO headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
A fight with Parker would serve as an interim title fight with the WBO’s blessings, which calls several factors into play.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix was the first to reveal—via social media—the development of Andrade-Parker returning to the forefront.
The mandatory middleweight title fight has already seen three purse bid delays, with the WBO having first ordered the bout last November 30. Andrade explored all along the possibility of a super middleweight fight with Parker, who is presently the WBO mandatory challenger to undisputed 168-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (57-1-2, 39KOs). The WBO was originally on board with making an interim title available, while allowing Alvarez to explore his next fight.
That agreement, however, came with a deadline which Andrade failed to meet. The WBO acted in kind, calling for a January 14 purse bid hearing. The matter was delayed by six days, only for the schedule January 20 session to suffer two postponements in the same day—first by three hours, then for a full eight days due to an in-office staff member testing positive for Covid.
Friday’s hearing will likely be cancelled outright, though still working out in Andrade's favor and without the immediate hassle of an interim title fight.
Andrade-Alimkhanuly was formally ordered shortly after both participants scored knockout wins one day apart last November. Andrade—a two-division and reigning WBO middleweight titlist—has been represented in talks by Matchroom Sport chairman Eddie Hearn, while Top Rank and manager Egis Klimas are negotiating on behalf of Alimkhanuly.
Andrade registered the fifth defense of his WBO middleweight title with a second-round knockout of Ireland’s Jason Quigley in a DAZN-streamed main event last November 19 at SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. After the fight, the Providence-bred southpaw, who was fighting less than an hour from his hometown, called for bigger fights. Singled out were unbeaten former WBO junior middleweight titlist Jaime Munguia (38-0, 30KOs) and IBF titlist Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36KOs), both of whom also fight on DAZN.
Golovkin remains locked into a title unification clash with WBA claimant Ryota Murata, awaiting a new date as their planned December 29 clash was canceled due to Covid-related travel restriction for visitors entering Japan. Munguia was previously the mandatory challenger for Andrade’s title but has instead taken a stay-busy fight versus unbeaten middleweight D’Mitrius Ballard (21-0-1, 13KOs), set for February 19 in his hometown of Tijuana.
That left the sanctioning body to declare Alimkhanuly as its mandatory. The unbeaten middleweight did his part to keep his place in line, stopping former secondary titlist Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam in the eighth round of their preliminary bout on a November 20 ESPN+ Pay-Per-View show at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. The win came five months after battering former secondary titleholder Rob Brant also in eight rounds last June.
Andrade and Alimkhanuly were given until December 20 to work out a deal, only for that period to lapse without the two sides coming to terms. A purse bid hearing was called during the year-end holiday season, though there was still time for an eleventh-hour deal to avoid that route.
Andrade instead sought the option of campaigning in his third weight division. His first fight would come versus Parker, though with the long-term goal of landing a long-desired showdown with Alvarez who Andrade has chased since the two shared overlapping middleweight title reigns.
Parker has been waiting on a title shot since the pandemic, having advanced to the top contender spot following an eleventh-round stoppage of Rohan Murdock in March 2020. The 27-year-old Brit—who is managed by Neil Marsh and fights under Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions banner—has since fought three times, most recently in a fourth-round stoppage of Marcus Morrison last November in Birmingham, England.
In the off chance that Friday’s purse bid hearing proceeds as planned, it will be open to all WBO-registered promoters. The minimum accepted bid is $200,000 for the fight, with Andrade to receive 75% of the winning bid as the defending titlist. The remaining 25% will go to Alimkhanuly as the mandatory challenger.
Should the WBO rule that Andrade be forced to relinquish his title to face Parker for an interim belt at super middleweight, Alimkhanuly would be ordered to face the next highest-ranked available challenger.
Currently occupying that spot is Esquiva Falcao (29-0, 23KOs), a 2012 Olympic Silver medalist from Brazil who also fights under the Top Rank banner. Falcao is also the number-one contender to Golovkin’s IBF belt, earning that slot following a technical unanimous decision win over unbeaten Patrice Volny on the same ESPN+ PPV show that housed Alikkhanuly’s knockout win over N’Dam last November.
An alternate plan would be for the WBO to approve two interim title fights—Andrade-Parker at super middleweight and Alimkhanuly-Falcao at middleweight.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox