On October 20th at the home of the Boston Celtics in the TD Garden, Billy-Joe Saunders will make the fourth defence of his WBO World middleweight championship against a fellow undefeated slickster in mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade.
The showdown between two skilful southpaws has come about as a result of an unprecedented deal struck between rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren; something which certainly bodes well for potential future dealings between he two camps.
Andrade – someone who previously campaigned at super welterweight – will look to become a two-weight World champion with a victory over Saunders, having claimed the vacant WBO 154lbs title with a split-decision over Vanes Martisoyan in 2013.
Like Saunders, his recent career has been marred – inexplicably so – by sustained stretches of inactivity. Nevertheless, he is still commonly perceived as one of the most talented pure-boxers in the division.
Hatfield-native Saunders, incidentally, will be the second British fighter Andrade has faced – the first coming in an effortless dismantling of Blackpool’s Brian Rose in seven one-sided rounds in a 2014 title defence at Madison Square Garden.
Likewise, Saunders has accrued valuable experience in facing rangy southpaws as of late, having dethroned heavy-handed Irishman Andy Lee in December 2015, before widely outpointing former World title challenger Willie Monroe Jr last September in London.
However, it’s safe to suggest that Andrade represents a more difficult proposition than both.
After vacating the WBO championship several months later, former 2008 Olympian Andrade returned to capture the lightly-regarded WBA ‘regular’ super welterweight title in 2017 with another split-decision win over Colombian-German Jack Culcay on away soil. However, Andrade did not have things entirely his own with, with Culcay producing a late rally despite being largely outboxed throughout the early rounds.
Born in Providence, Rhode Island – albeit of Cape-Verdean extraction – Andrade has been particularly trenchant in his claim that he is one of the most avoided fighters in the division. Following his unsuccessful-yet-earnest efforts to secure a fight with either one of the Charlo twins, he made his middleweight debut last year with a comfortable decision win over previously unbeaten Alantez Fox on HBO.
A fight with Jermall – the older Charlo brother, who also made the decision to move up to middleweight – remains a distinct possibility whether or not Andrade prevails over Saunders, someone who is coming off a career-best win in December when he produced a 12-round masterclass over former champion David Lemieux in Montreal.
Whether Andrade is able to do so is a different matter altogether.
Saunders, with form and activity on his side, is the slight bookmakers’ favourite to win what many believe will be a high-intensity chess match between two tricky lefties.
However, many fans are also tipping Andrade to effectively capitalise on his height and reach advantages, and to use his skills to frustrate Saunders over twelve rounds.
Article by: Navi Singh
Follow Navi on Twitter at: @hombre__obscuro