Demetrius Andrade wasn’t content on sitting around, scratching his belly and doing nothing while his cell phone didn’t ring. There were real-life things to take care of, while his boxing life was put on temporary hold. There were his three daughters, and his wife, and there was himself. It may seem strange now, but reflecting back, the inactivity the 28-year-old junior middleweight contender dealt with while stuck in a promotional quandary could have been one of the best things to have happened to him.
It gave Andrade, the first 2008 U.S. Olympian to win a major world title, time to reflect and grow stronger. The result was his devastating four-knockdown, 12th-round stoppage victory over Willie Nelson on June 11 in Verona, New York. The razor-sharp performance, which was televised on Showtime’s Championship Boxing, marked only the second time Andrade (23-0, 18 knockouts) had fought in the last two years.
It also marked his presence in the talent-rich junior middleweight division – and it showed his time off wasn’t wasted time.
“I believe that I’m the best 154-pounder out there, and I always believed that fights would be coming and knocking on my door sooner or later,” Andrade told RingTV.com after vanquishing Nelson. “Knowing my time would come kept me going. Every fighter has their own starting time, and I think this is my starting time right now. The way I figured it, I was 21-0 and I didn’t come this far for my career to end this way, where I was watching. I never had that feeling—ever—that I was finished. The feeling that I did have was use the time off.
“I stepped back and looked at how I could be more fan-friendly. And what I had to do to put butts in those seats. During that down time, that’s all I did and it’s definitely paid off. The biggest difference in me now and before the layoff is that I’m better. I may be better for the time off, too, because I do far more strength and conditioning than I ever did before. I might go to the gym three times a week, once a day, and sometimes three times a week, twice a day. I learned not to burn myself out. I had to improve my reaction time and I learned to build my power. I know I’m not going to knock everyone out I face. But I know I can overpower anyone I face. That’s what I know I can do to everyone I see. I’m going to overpower these guys.”
Andrade worked off a set schedule during his layoff. He has three daughters, ages 9, 5, and 1, and one week he would be the one waking the girls up, feeding them and getting them ready for school, and the following week, his wife would do it. He used the time to swim, or strength training.
“I wasn’t boxing every week,” Andrade admitted. “My thinking is that I can’t lose the skills that I have. That wasn’t going anywhere. But I can get stronger. I wanted to gain strength to keep guys off of me like Willie Nelson. I looked strong on Saturday night, and it’s probably the strongest I felt, too. The time off gave me time to develop more who I am. Yeah, the time off was a sacrifice, but my body didn’t take any punishment.”
Andrade said he would work with strength and conditioning coach Sharik Mendez sporadically. He also knew he had to invest more time into it. After being shelved from June 2014 to October 2015 trying to smooth out the well-documented promotional snafu between himself and rap star Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports, Andrade has thrown far more devotion into the conditioning side.
Andrade finds himself in a far more loaded division than the one he took a break from in 2014. There are now the title-holding Charlo brothers, WBC belt holder Jermell (28-0, 13 KOs) and IBF titlist Jermall (24-0, 18 KOs). Then there’s the WBA’s Erislandy Lara (23-2-2, 13 KOs), you have dangerous Julian Williams (22-0-1, 14 KOs) — and topping list, sitting on a perch far above is Golden Boy’s golden goose, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, (47-1-1, 33 KOs), who although listed as a middleweight (THE RING and “lineal” champion), he’s a rather light 160-pounder who can still make 154.
The goal is to get Andrade back in the ring by October. It won’t be against Jermell Charlo, who has a mandatory against Charles Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs), so Artie Pelullo, of Banner Promotions, who co-promotes Andrade with Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing and Ed Farris’ A-Team Promotions, wants to arrange something with either Jermall Charlo or Lara.
“We’re in line to fight the winner of Charlo-Hatley, but in the meantime, I would make Demetrius in one of the other title fights against either (Jermall) Charlo or Lara,” Pelullo said. “Then we would go into the Charlo-Hatley winner maybe early next year. We spoke to (Showtime Sports president) Stephen Espinoza and he seemed interested in that. We’ll talk to Stephen some more. Instead of waiting for Hatley-Charlo to happen, we move on and fight Lara or the other Charlo. We’ll do a keep-busy fight if we have to but we prefer to fight Charlo or Lara.
“People want to see Andrade, especially the way he looked against Nelson on Saturday night. We re-signed Demetrius to a long-term deal and we’re looking forward to working together with him for a long time. We had that bump in the road and now Demetrius wants to make up for some lost time. It’s a win-win for the sport. He’s here ate 154 and it’s the deepest division in boxing. There’s a lot of talent there at 154—and they’re all young.”
Farris, Andrade’s former manager, has known Andrade since he was 14 years old. He compliments Andrade for staying structured during his time off from the ring—and feels Andrade has turned a negative into a rousing positive.
“There were so many negative things happening around Demetrius, and yet he stayed in the gym, and he stayed there for over a year waiting for the phone to ring,” Farris said. “People don’t know how much heart and drive Demetrius has. At the end of the day, he made the best of a bad situation. All he ever wanted to do was fight. To see all of the negativity in the press and everything, and fans thought he was sitting things out for a better payday, while he was promised things any young man would have fallen for.
“You have basically a billionaire telling you he’s going to turn you into a household name, and a superstar and everything, and the person is as powerful as the man who offered that to him, almost any young man would have believed him. I know what was said and promised and eventually, it will all come out. We can put this behind us and we’re grateful for the opportunity Showtime gave us. We have a lot of options. They’re trying to make a deal with Canelo and Liam Smith, but at this point, we want to take everything we’ve learned in the past and make sure those mistakes don’t happen again.”
Andrade wants Alvarez. Realistically, he knows that’s not possible. Why would Canelo risk that?
“I know,” Andrade admitted. “You have the fights out there for the belts, and you have the fight out there for money, and everyone knows that’s Canelo. I want to get in there with the guy, who is really ‘The guy.’ I want the big fight. The Charlo brothers are cool, but they’re not the biggest guys. They do have those belts. I do like that green belt, especially around my waist or over my shoulder. They’re incredible, yes, but ‘The guy’ is Canelo at 154 pounds. I can do everything he does plus more. I believe than I’m stronger than him.
“I understand the business. If I’m Canelo Alvarez, why would I fight someone as dangerous as Demetrius Andrade. Hopefully that will happen when we’re still young. I’m willing to take my time and take what’s offered to me. I have to get my reputation a lot more, and if GGG (Gennady Golovkin) and Alvarez fight, I’d like to look at the winner. I can fight at 160—but I would like to clean out this division first. I’m through waiting around.”
Written by RingTV