By Keith Idec
There was almost a second meaningful middleweight fight made for December 16.
Keith Connolly, Sergiy Derevyanchenko’s manager, told BoxingScene.com that the unbeaten middleweight agreed to face Demetrius Andrade on the Billy Joe Saunders-David Lemieux undercard December 16 in Laval, Quebec. The deal was almost finalized, but Andrade withdrew from negotiations because the undefeated contender didn’t think he had enough time to prepare for such a difficult fight against Derevyanchenko (11-0, 9 KOs).
Negotiations began late in October, roughly seven weeks before an Andrade-Derevyanchenko fight would’ve taken place, not long after Andrade’s most recent bout. Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs), a former WBA super welterweight champion, out-boxed Alantez Fox (23-1-1, 11 KOs) to win that 12-round middleweight match by unanimous decision October 21 in Verona, New York.
That marked the beginning of Andrade’s three-fight contract to fight exclusively on HBO, which would’ve televised Andrade-Derevyanchenko immediately before Montreal’s Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs) challenges England’s Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) for the WBO middleweight title at Place Bell.
“We were in the ninth inning of negotiations to fight Andrade and had agreed on pretty much everything,” Connolly said. “We were told by his people that he was ready and that he had agreed. But then, at the last second, he pulled out.
“He claimed he didn’t have enough time [to get ready], but these negotiations took place seven weeks before the fight date. So that’s plenty of time. If you think you’re gonna take the fight, you start training right away.”
Ukraine’s Derevyanchenko, 32, became the IBF’s mandatory challenger for middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) when he stopped the Bahamas’ Tureano Johnson (20-2, 14 KOs) in the 12th round August 25 in Miami, Oklahoma.
Andrade’s withdrawal from those negotiations made Connolly question whether the southpaw from Providence, Rhode Island, would get in the ring with the emerging middleweight contender he manages, no matter how much time he has to prepare. HBO’s Peter Nelson has expressed interest in making Andrade-Derevyanchenko for sometime early in 2018.
“Andrade’s been saying for years that he’s the most avoided fighter and nobody wants to fight him,” Connolly said. “And then the first real opponent he’s offered, he backs out of the fight when we were in the ninth inning of negotiations. So not only is he the most boring middleweight in the world, he’s the most scared middleweight in the world.
“But even after what happened, Sergiy is still willing to fight him in the first quarter of next year. Sergiy is willing to fight any top middleweight. There’s nobody he won’t fight, unlike a lot of these fighters that handpick their opponents.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.