Demetrius Andrade assembling Hall of Fame-worthy career despite ho-hum opposition

Kevin IoleCombat columnist
Demetrius Andrade makes no apologies for the way he fights or the style he uses. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Demetrius Andrade makes no apologies for the way he fights or the style he uses. (Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The end for Demetrius Andrade will probably be a lot rosier than the present. Boxing history tells us that.

In the 1980s, there was a book written called, “The Four Kings,” about three welterweights (Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns) and a middleweight (Marvelous Marvin Hagler) and their history together.

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But it could just as easily have been “The Five Kings” and included welterweight Wilfred Benitez.

Benitez lost his welterweight title by 15th round TKO to Leonard. He dropped a majority decision to Hearns. He won a unanimous decision over Duran. Benitez was one of the great welterweights of an outstanding era of welterweights, but he was always like the fifth wheel, never included with his peers.

After he retired, Benitez made it to the International Boxing Hall of Fame, small consolation given the money he may have lost during his career by being overlooked for being too skillful of a defensive fighter.

Andrade, an Olympic teammate of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in Beijing in 2008, is 28-0 with 17 KOs and holds the WBO middleweight title. IBF champion Gennady Golovkin wants no part of him. WBA champion Canelo Alvarez declined to fight him, calling him boring.

He’s left to fight Luke Keeler in Miami on DAZN on Jan. 30, three nights before the Super Bowl. A win over Keeler, no matter how impressive, isn’t going to get Andrade the kind of purse, or the type of notoriety, that he’d get with Alvarez, Golovkin or even WBC champion Jermall Charlo.

But he’s what’s known in the industry as a slick southpaw, which for years has roughly translated into “I don’t want anything to do with that guy.”

This is a guy who could be bound for the International Boxing Hall of Fame when his fighting days are done who struggles to get anyone of substance to even consider fighting him.

History will, I suspect, look far more kindly upon him than he’s perceived now.

Andrade, though, makes no apologies for the way he fights or the style he uses. In his last fight, he dropped Maciej Sulecki in the first round and had him in serious jeopardy. But Sulecki managed to go the distance, though he barely laid a glove on Andrade in the 36 minutes of the bout.

“People who say they’re disappointed in what I did in that fight, well, you’re telling me you don’t like boxing then, because what I did was I gave you 12 skillful rounds of boxing,” Andrade said. “Look at what this guy did to Gabe Rosado. Look at the trouble he gave Daniel Jacobs. I was able to put him down in the first and win every minute of every round of that fight.”

Andrade responds to Canelo Alvarez's criticism

He attributed his lack of notoriety to “not having that machine behind us” in the early days of his career. He pointed out that Golovkin and Alvarez received big pushes for years and it’s paid off into making them household names.

But he was particularly annoyed that Alvarez said he was too boring to fight.

“For Canelo to call me boring, I mean, is he serious with that?” Andrade told Yahoo Sports. “I mean, I’m boring but Rocky Fielding is really exciting. Yeah, sure Canelo. Liam Smith was so exciting. Everybody couldn’t wait for that.”

It was a telephone conversation, but you could almost seem him rolling his eyes. And he wasn’t through, either.

He was going back to Alvarez’s early days to take digs at him for his opposition. In 2010, Alvarez fought Jose Miguel Cotto on a pay-per-view undercard. Jose Cotto is the older brother of former world champion Miguel Cotto.

“You’re telling me that Cotto’s brother was so exciting?” Andrade said. “And forget about exciting, he’s picking perfectly matched fights. Look at me: The guys I fight, they’re in their primes. Canelo is out there fighting guys on their way out. You think he would have fought [Sergey] Kovalev a couple of years ago when he was on top? No way. Now, he’s 36 or 37, whatever he is, and on his way out and now Canelo wants to fight him? OK then.”

Andrade hopes to put on a good performance against Keeler in January and then get a big fight, whether at middleweight or super middleweight, in his next outing.

Either way, he’s not going to apologize for winning going away most of the time.

“I don’t give two s---s about the opinion of somebody who has never stepped into the ring, who has never gone home with a black eye or a headache or pain in the ribs or just felt pain from just throwing punches or blocking and taking punches,” he said. “That doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is, what about the skillfulness and the angles and the jabs and the condition and the accuracy. What about that stuff, which is the stuff that really matters? Boxing is like any other sport, like football, basketball, whatever, where there’s a strategy you stick to in order to win.

“Think about the U.S. Army: They don’t just go in their and start bombing s--- unless they really have to. They don’t go bomb for bomb with people. No. They’ve got the air force and the ground force and they go in there and see what’s the best strategy. Until they feel there’s no choice and ‘We have to throw these bombs out now to get this job done,’ they are more tactical and methodical. That’s the U.S. [expletive] Army. That’s what they do!”

Like the Army, Andrade usually finds a way to win. He may not have the bombs and the heavy artillery the way the Army does, but what he has over time has been plenty to get the job done.

And at the end of the day, that’s really what matters.

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