By Jake Donovan
The good news for Demetrius Andrade is that he will remain active on the DAZN circuit.
Even better news for the unbeaten middleweight titlist is that his next opponent could be determined as early as Friday evening.
What was once simply a crossroads middleweight there to be had for Gabriel Rosado and Maciej Sulecki is now a de facto title eliminator. The winner of their bout on Friday—which airs live on DAZN from Liacouras Center in Philadelphia—will garner strong consideration as the next challenger for Andrade, who is due to return to the ring in mid-June.
“We’re looking at June 15 or June 22 for Demetrius,” Eddie Hearn, Andrade’s promoter told BoxingScene.com of plans for his next ring adventure. “Demetrius is in need of an opponent, which we believe will be the winner of this weekend’s fantastic fight.
“All three are on the (DAZN) platform. Maciej Sulecki is near the top of the rankings already; if he wins, he could easily move into the mandatory position. If Gabriel wins, he could take Sulecki’s place in the rankings and really wants one more title shot.”
The increased stakes only heighten expectations for what figures to be a fun preliminary scrap in support to Tevin Farmer’s 130-pound title defense versus Ireland’s Jono Carroll. Farmer will become the first fighter from Philly in 16 years to defend a major title at home, with the local flavor trickling down through the undercard.
As much isn’t lost on Rosado (24-11-1, 14KOs), who fights in his Philly hometown for the first time in seven years and anywhere in Pennsylvania since a Sept. ’12 win over Charles Whittaker. That bout put him in line for a shot at a 154-pound title, but instead pursued a middleweight title shot versus a then-unbeaten Golovkin.
It led to a rough stretch where he’s since gone 3-6-1-1NC. To say this could be his final shot at the contender would only be stating the obvious.
The good news is that as much isn’t lost on the Philly-proud slugger.
“I know what Sulecki brings to the table,” insists the 33-year old Rosado. “But I’ve fought the best and bring the experience. The thing is, this fight is in Philadelphia so I’m going to bring it extra hard. My plan is to knock this man out.
“I don’t just want to win or for it to go to the scorecards. I want to win by knockout.”
Naturally, Sulecki (27-1, 11KOs) had a much different vision in mind in traveling from Poland to fight in his opponent’s backyard.
The veteran contender suffered the lone loss of his career in his first fight back at middleweight, dropping a competitive 12-round decision to Daniel Jacobs last April. He rebounded with a confidence rebuilding win at home in Poland last November before entering his contest.
Friday’s bout will mark his seventh in the United States, each of his prior six taking place in Brooklyn (NY), Newark (NJ) or Chicago (Illinois), all of which boast a sizeable Polish population. His showdown with Rosado will be his first in Philly and also in truly hostile territory—but only fuels his motivation.
“It makes no difference where this fight takes place, a ring is all the same no matter where you go,” Sulecki told BoxingScene.com of marching into hostile territory. “Fighting in his hometown actually works to my advantage. I like and need that pressure.”
Knowing that a win can lead to his first career title shot only adds to that.
“When Eddie told us the winner would get a shot at the WBO title… I didn’t think of it as pressure, I consider it motivation,” Sulecki insists. “The fact that a title fight with Andrade is waiting for us just motivates me more to beat (Rosado) in his hometown.
“We’re not here as an opponent or a tourist. I love the city of Philadelphia, but we didn’t really have any time to do sightseeing. We can save that for after Friday night. We’re here to fight and beat Gabriel Rosado and then to win a world title.”
Of course, the winner could be looking at a road trip for such an occasion. Tentative plans call for Andrade to be showcased in what would be his first-ever pro fight in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.
The 2008 U.S. Olympian and unbeaten two-division titlist fought three times in nearby Lincoln and throughout the New England area, including a vacant middleweight title win over Walter Kautondokwa last October in Boston, Mass. Whether he gets to return home for his next outing or has to fight elsewhere, the good news is that the “when” is in place with “against whom” soon to follow.
“There’s obviously a lot going on at that time, especially with Gennady Golovkin coming over to DAZN and also likely fighting in June,” points out Hearn. “So once we sort out the dates and where they fight, we move on to who they get to fight.
“The winner on Friday night will likely get Demetrius. With their size—these guys are HUGE—and so much on the line, I really think we’re going to get a great fight.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox