by Keith Idec
NEW YORK – A bit of a nightmare.
That’s how promoter Eddie Hearn described Demetrius Andrade having to prepare for a right-handed knockout artist on two weeks’ notice. The undefeated former junior middleweight champion had been training to box Billy Joe Saunders, a very skillful southpaw, until the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission denied Saunders’ license application October 9 for failing a performance-enhancing drug test.
Saunders subsequently relinquished the WBO middleweight title. Andrade (25-0, 16 KOs), of Providence, Rhode Island, and Namibia’s Walter Kautondokwa (17-0, 16 KOs) will fight for the WBO’s vacant 160-pound championship in the main event of an 11-fight card Saturday night at TD Garden in Boston (DAZN).
“It’s a bit of a nightmare, really,” said Hearn, whose company, Matchroom Boxing, promotes Andrade. “You’ve gone from training 10 weeks for a slick southpaw to – I mean, I know boxing people in Africa who’ve all said the same thing, ‘He can punch, that kid.’ He’s from the same team as [Julius] Indongo. So we had Indongo over to fight [Ricky] Burns. No one knew a great deal about him.
“He beat Burns easy. He went out and knocked out [Eduard] Troyanovsky in Russia, come up short against [Terence] Crawford, but it’s Crawford. So this guy, what we’ll know about him is technically he’ll be limited, but he’ll be extremely strong and he’ll be a very, very big puncher.”
England’s Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) is more proven against world-class competition than the 33-year-old Kautondokwa, who has fought just once outside his home country. Without any proof of how Kautondokwa will perform against an elite-level opponent like Andrade, odds-makers have installed Andrade as at least a 12-1 favorite to win their 12-round, 160-pound title bout.
Hearn still considers this fight dangerous, more threatening than the scrapped Saunders bout. It’s also, according to Hearn, a fight Andrade needs to win impressively if the 30-year-old former Olympian is to begin making his mark in the middleweight division.
“Listen, mate, if you can’t beat [Kautondokwa], you don’t deserve to be world champion,” Hearn said. “So I don’t get concerned. I just say, ‘Andrade, there’s your opportunity. If you can’t beat Kautondokwa, you don’t deserve to be mixing it with Canelo and these guys.’
“But it’s a much more dangerous fight than Billy Joe Saunders. Technically, it’s an easier fight. But it’s a much more dangerous fight because he also needs to look good. The criticism is he’s technically one of the best fighters in the world, but sometimes not the most entertaining. So he’s under pressure to win because everyone thinks he’s gonna win easy.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.