Some fighters are blessed at birth with immense physical gifts and boxing skill. Couple that with determination and hard work and you could be looking at a special fighter. Some fighters who were remarkably gifted busted their rear end and went onto greatness and others, for whatever reason, squandered their ability and never reached their potential. For every Muhammad Ali there’s 10 Riddick Bowe’s.
This past weekend, WBA 154-pound titlist (he vacated the title the day after the fight) Demetrius Andrade 25-0 (16) made his highly anticipated middleweight debut on HBO. His opponent was 6’5″ Alantez Fox 23-1-1 (11). Andrade is a very athletically gifted boxer. He has good height for a middleweight at 6’1″, along with speed, good footwork and balance, plus the ability to put his punches together in combination fluidly. Actually, he’s as talented as any fighter in either the junior middleweight or middleweight divisions. And yet, in the opinion of many, Andrade hasn’t lived up to his potential. If you’re not a died in the wool boxing observer, odds are you are not familiar with him. In addition to that, he’s only fought four times in the previous 46 months and his opponents were not even household names in their own home.
At this time the middleweight division appears to be on its way back to relevance. As recently as this time last year the division consisted of Gennady Golovkin and a bunch of other fighters who weigh 160 pounds. With the addition of Canelo Alvarez and the emergence of Jermall Charlo, Danny Jacobs and perhaps the winner between WBO title holder Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux, the division is surging.
This past Saturday night Andrade had a perfect chance to re-introduce himself to boxing fans and he knew it, going as far as to say before the bout, “Now I’m taking a challenge by moving up to the next weight class. I’m taking it very seriously because it’s a bigger weight class and I’m going to be in there with bigger guys. So I definitely have to bring my ‘A’ game. To make noise and to keep myself alive, this is what needs to happen.”
Unfortunately, Andrade didn’t heed his own words because he clearly fought too complacently, conducting himself during the bout with Fox as if he were sparring for fun on a day off. Nothing is more frustrating for fans than to watch a fighter like Andrade who has so much natural ability housed in his body and won’t release it. Granted, Fox held a four inch reach advantage and out-weighed him by 13 pounds on the night of the fight, but it was obvious early in the bout that Fox didn’t possess one discernible tool in his box which Demetrius couldn’t refute. There were even a few times during the course of the fight in which Andrade barely grazed Fox and appeared to have stunned him, yet he never pushed for the stoppage.
Perhaps the most troubling thing that surfaced regarding Andrade’s uninspiring showing is that his family may have too much involvement. His father, Paul Andrade, is his trainer and instructed him to coast to victory in the last round. Are you serious? Didn’t his father catch Jermell Charlo’s first round one-punch knockout of Erickson Lubin on October 14th? Since Charlo’s punch landed on Lubin’s chin, that’s all you’ve been hearing about in most boxing circles. And ironically, in the bout right after Charlo’s sensational knockout, Erislandy Lara out-boxed Terrell Gashua in the same manner Andrade did Fox, and there were spectators walking out with the fight in progress to get a jump on the traffic. If there was ever a contrast in which it could be illustrated to trainer Paul Andrade just how far an exciting performance can go, it was the contrast in the way Charlo and Lara went about getting the job done in the ring in front of a national audience.
Since the Fox fight some in the media have stated how they believe Andrade made a good showing in what was the first bout of his three-fight deal with HBO. I’m not on board with that. I think Andrade (and this falls more on his management than him), picked the wrong opponent in Alantez Fox who is one of the tallest middleweights I’ve ever seen and who — going by his previous fights — is extremely hard to look good against. Not only was Andrade fighting to overcome Fox’s physical stature, he also had to try and coax a guy to open up who had no intention of doing anything but going the distance as evidenced by Fox landing a pathetic 29 power punches in 12 rounds.
I don’t care who you name, Canelo, GGG or Charlo, they also wouldn’t have looked great with Fox, especially in the early going. However, they eventually would have gotten through and landed their bread and butter stuff and ended the fight in a more memorable fashion. And that’s where I believe an elite trainer would have made the difference by showing Andrade how to end the fight in a way that would have stimulated the fans into wanting to see him fight again.
Luckily for Demetrius Andrade, HBO won’t scrap him off of his sub-par showing. He’ll get another chance to show the boxing world just how potentially good he can be. What concerns me is his nonchalant effort during the 36 minutes he was in the ring with Alantez Fox on a night that it was imperative to stand out.
Maybe he’s just another fighter with all the talent in the world but his motor is lacking. Andrade has been in a verbal feud with both of the Charlo brothers for a few years during which they both improved a lot and he didn’t. Jermall Charlo is close to landing a PPV fight with the Canelo-Golovkin winner. Danny Jacobs will be back in the ring on November 11th and Billy Joe Saunders is defending his WBO title against David Lemieux in December.
There’s a place for Andrade at the title table among the elite middleweights under the HBO banner, but if he turns in another unenthusiastic performance like the one he did against Alantez Fox, I doubt it’ll be there for long.
Photo credit: Matt Heasley — Hoganphotos/ GBP
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com
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