By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Eddie Hearn doesn’t view Saturday night only as an opportunity for Demetrius Andrade to win a middleweight world title.
Andrade’s new promoter considers Andrade’s fight against Walker Kautondokwa as his undefeated fighter’s platform to start becoming a star. The 30-year-old Andrade already is a two-time 154-pound champion, yet not the star his talent indicates he could’ve become long ago.
If the southpaw from Providence, Rhode Island, can conquer Kautondokwa, Hearn envisions Andrade landing higher-profile fights against Daniel Jacobs or even Canelo Alvarez. DAZN, which will stream Andrade-Kautondokwa as the main event of a card from TD Garden in Boston, signed Alvarez earlier this week to a five-year, 11-fight deal that could be worth as much as $365 million.
Hearn hopes Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs) capitalizes on his chance Saturday night.
“The criticism is he’s technically one of the best fighters in the world, but sometimes not the most entertaining,” Hearn said. “So he’s under pressure to win because everyone thinks he’s gonna win easy. He’s under pressure to become middleweight world champion and mix it with these guys [e.g. Alvarez and Jacobs], and he’s also under pressure to look good. If he can do it all, he can become a star. And I think he can become a star, Andrade, I really do. But let’s see him become middleweight world champ, and that’ll be fantastic.”
Andrade is scheduled to fight for the first time Saturday night since he beat Alantez Fox by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder last October 21 in Verona, New York. Inactivity and promotional problems have hurt Andrade’s career at times, but he gladly accepted a WBO-mandated shot at former champion Billy Joe Saunders on Saturday night.
Namibia’s Kautondokwa (17-0, 16 KOs) replaced England’s Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) on less than two weeks’ notice once the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission denied Saunders’ license application October 9. Saunders couldn’t secure a Massachusetts boxing license because he tested positive for a banned stimulant late in August in a exam administered by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association.
If Andrade defeats the unbeaten but untested Kautondokwa, Hearn expects plenty of good middleweight matches to become realistic on DAZN.
“Jacobs against Andrade,” Hearn said. “Andrade against Canelo. [Gennady] Golovkin against Canelo. Canelo against Jacobs. Golovkin against Jacobs. I don’t know, but they’ll all be on DAZN. So fingers crossed. First things first, let’s get Andrade over the line on Saturday, become world champion again.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.