After several underwhelming performances, WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade found form when he needed it, repelling dogged mandatory challenger Liam Williams in an absorbing encounter at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood, Florida, on Saturday.
Scores were 118-109 (twice) and 116-111.
Andrade’s superior punch repertoire and boxing savvy proved decisive as he stunned Williams on numerous occasions with a right uppercut in particular, also dropping him in the second round. But the tough Welshman held firm and posed problems with his rash-like aggression and uncompromising endeavour.
It was a creditable challenge by Williams, but ultimately he fell short of his pre-fight rhetoric, where he had vowed to break the champion’s heart and rip away the title. But it was not for a lack of trying.
“Liam Williams, hell of a fighter. Tough, strong, he comes to fight and that’s the type of fight that people wanted to see me in,” Andrade told Chris Mannix of DAZN afterwards. “That’s what we did. I showed out. I performed the way I needed to perform to get the ‘W,’ but my hat goes off to Williams all day.”
The Welshman was also sporting in defeat.
“Demetrius is a very good fighter. He’s better than I thought, to be honest with you,” added Williams. “He’s more slippery than he appears on TV and stuff. So, yeah, I couldn’t really get going in terms of landing shots and getting my combinations off. I hurt him a couple of times, I feel, but he was gone before I knew it and couldn’t capitalise on it.”
Williams tried to menace Andrade before the opening bell but was caught by surprise as the usually defensive-minded champion had him rocking on the ropes after a left hand on the temple. It took the Welshman a full round to shake off the effects.
Andrade (30-0, 18 KOs) buzzed Williams again with a right uppercut in the second then later in the round dropped him with a brisk one-two. The Welshman barely beat the count at nine as a nightmare start continued.
A right hand from Williams tagged Andrade and caused him to hold in the third, but he took one simultaneously. Yet the Welshman had a renewed vitality with his jab stealing a march in the fourth. Andrade’s right uppercuts were landing with aplomb in the fifth as he maintained his apparent lead on the cards.
The class of Andrade was underlined in the sixth as he reeled off more picture-perfect right uppercuts that sliced through the challenger’s guard and left him disoriented. The fight was slipping away from Williams (23-3-1, 18 KOs) though he steadied the ship in the seventh and eighth as Andrade’s workrate dipped.
A right-hand hurt Andrade in the ninth and the champion clung on with the Welshman ruffling him with perpetual pressure. Williams’ endless hustle was posing problems late, but Andrade rediscovered his sparkle in the penultimate round to stifle any hopes of late drama.
Andrade landed a huge left hand in the final round that stopped Williams in his tracks before they fell in a bundle to the canvas. Despite Williams route one aggression and resolve, Andrade’s technique and sharper shots fully merited a clearcut decision.
Main image: Ed Mulholland/Matchroom Boxing USA.