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"Fighting Words" - Provodnikov's Big Deal Was Bigger For Andrade

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by David P. Greisman

Demetrius Andrade wasn’t in the starring role on Showtime this past Saturday night. He didn’t need to be.

What was important was that he was there at all. It was a second chance, and he needed to make the most of it.

This wasn’t Andrade’s debut on the network. He’d been featured before, headlining a card back in early 2013 with a shutout decision over Freddy Hernandez. But that was back when he was still a junior-middleweight prospect. The broadcast was “ShoBox: The New Generation,” a series with a mission of spotlighting up-and-coming fighters.

Andrade went on to win a world title later that year. He edged Vanes Martirosyan that November, then had an easy time in his first title defense, stopping Brian Rose in June 2014. Both of those fights aired on HBO.

His next fight after that was expected to be that December on Showtime.

He didn’t fight then. He didn’t fight there. He didn’t fight at all for a long time. By the time he returned, he’d been stripped of his world title and had a strained relationship with his promoters.

It’s a good thing that relationship was repaired enough in recent months for him to land in a co-feature spot underneath Ruslan Provodnikov’s main event fight against John Molina. We’ll come back to Andrade later, but for now we must dedicate some space to Provodnikov.

Provodnikov was not the most talented fighter to appear this past weekend at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Upstate New York, but he was the star of the show, and deservingly so.

His reputation was earned in battle, with a beautifully brutal loss to Tim Bradley in 2013, with a world-title win over Mike Alvarado later that year, and with the war he waged against Lucas Matthysse in defeat last year.

The Bradley and Matthysse losses were close decisions against very good opponents; Bradley is considered one of the best in the sport, while Matthysse was one of the best at 140. Chris Algieri also edged Provodnikov in 2014 in a gutsy performance. Provodnikov’s first loss came against Mauricio Herrera in 2011. Herrera is underrated, and Provodnikov was still developing at the time into what he’d become.

weigh in-0010 (Demetrius Andrade) (720x480)_1

What he became was an entertaining fighter and a tough opponent. It’s no surprise, then, that Showtime was interested in him.

The network had bid on Matthysse-Provodnikov. HBO had the contractual right to match any competing offer and elected to do so. But HBO Boxing is in the middle of a budget crunch. That is why the July fight between junior welterweight titleholders Terence Crawford and Viktor Postol will be on pay-per-view instead of airing on the network for the cost of a license fee. The money and the dates are limited. HBO has invested in and has obligations to certain fighters and promoters.

Showtime put forth an offer to Provodnikov and his team. He signed a multi-fight deal.

In Provodnikov, the network had a boxer who promised to bring his all in the ring and tended to back up his promises. While broadcasters love featuring the best fighters, they also enjoy the buzz that comes when they air the best fights.

There was a possibility that Provodnikov-Molina could be one of those fights. Molina, for all of his shortcomings, had come from behind to knock out Mickey Bey in the last round of their fight in 2013 and had knocked Matthysse down multiple times in 2014 before being worn down and stopped. He, too, was a warrior, though the past tense in the first half of this sentence seemed appropriate. After the thrilling loss to Matthysse came lackluster defeats against Humberto Soto and Adrien Broner.

This was a fight designed to be a showcase for Provodnikov. It could be fun while it lasted, with Provodnikov ultimately winning and potentially then moving on to be a live opponent for star fighters one division up at welterweight.

Molina spoiled those plans. He performed much better against Provodnikov, throwing nearly 1,100 punches, trading at times but also using movement and boxing to make Provodnikov reset and to keep from getting dragged into a war. Molina won a unanimous decision.

Provodnikov’s big deal ended up being an even better deal for Molina and Andrade. Provodnikov will be back; he’s not done yet, even if he’ll have much more to prove the next time out. Molina kept his career afloat and earned himself another notable fight.

And before Provodnikov and Molina stepped into the ring, Andrade left an impression.

Andrade was there because one of his co-promoters, Banner Promotions, has Provodnikov within its stable. Andrade’s win over Brian Rose in June 2014 was on the undercard of Provodnikov-Algieri. He benefited from Provodnikov once again.

It also didn’t hurt that Showtime has been featuring many of the top fighters in the junior middleweight division. Having Andrade on the network this past Saturday would help insert him into the mix later on down the line.

Showtime had tried that more than a year and a half ago. It had announced a December 2014 show featuring Amir Khan vs. Devon Alexander in the top spot and with Andrade vs. Jermell Charlo in one of the supporting slots.

Andrade pulled out. He was reportedly unhappy with how much money his promoters were due to receive when compared to his own payday. He remained out of the ring long enough that the World Boxing Organization took his title away last year for inactivity. Andrade returned in a small show in New England last October, making quick work of a lesser opponent.

This March, Andrade signed a new deal with those promoters, Banner Promotions and Star Boxing.

His fight with Willie Nelson this past Saturday came nearly two years since the Rose fight. He hadn’t helped his career in the time since. He’s fortunate not to be that far away from being in position to regain what he lost.

Andrade looked very good against Nelson, who is flawed but otherwise provided a good measuring stick for what Andrade could do. Andrade showed good speed with his combinations, moving well and dropping Nelson once in the first, once in the 11th and twice in the 12th before winning by technical knockout.

The victory put him in position to challenge Charlo for a world title — a potential reversal of roles — or Charles Hatley, should Hatley beat Charlo in a fight expected to happen next for both.

And he’s in a division with Jermall Charlo, Jermell’s twin brother and also a 154-pound titleholder; Erislandy Lara; Julian Williams; and Austin Trout. He could someday move up to middleweight as well.

Demetrius Andrade wasn’t in the starring role on Showtime this past Saturday night. He didn’t need to be.

The important thing was that he was there, that he won and how he won.

He may have been second fiddle, but that allowed him to make the most of his second chance.

“Fighting Words” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com. Pick up a copy of David’s book, “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing,” at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsamazon or internationally at http://bit.ly/fightingwordsworldwide. Send questions/comments via email at [email protected]

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Scipio2009 on 06-13-2016

[QUOTE=Kigali;16784476]Even when Andrade had a title nobody wanted any. Rigo and Andrade have a hard time getting fights.[/QUOTE] Andrade's got TV behind him now, though, in addition to fighting in a deep division where fights are relatively easy to make…

Comment by Scipio2009 on 06-13-2016

[QUOTE=_original_;16784408]Algieri-Prov II makes sense right now.[/QUOTE] Yeah, it does; depending on how things shake out with Andrade and Monroe Jr (him fighting Liam Smith, if the Alvarez fight doesn't manifest for Smith, makes sense for everyone), that may end up…

Comment by Pigeons on 06-13-2016

[QUOTE=DreamerUSA;16784425]Would like to see him stay active as well, but not a lot of options for him atm at least as far as a top 10 guy is concerned.[/QUOTE] Maybe not a top 10 guy, but how about Trout or…

Comment by JUNIABOY on 06-13-2016

Social media is a powerful tool. To Andrade & Banner Promotions, use it...shame these fighters into taking a fight against you.

Comment by Kigali on 06-13-2016

[QUOTE=DreamerUSA;16784425]Would like to see him stay active as well, but not a lot of options for him atm at least as far as a top 10 guy is concerned.[/QUOTE] Even when Andrade had a title nobody wanted any. Rigo and…

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