Demetrius Andrade‘s career is, thus far, defined by it’s gaps as much as it’s substance. Four years ago, aged 26, with the WBO Super-Welterweight title slung over his shoulder, following a successful defence against the over-matched Brit Brian Rose in 2014, he was standing at the gateway to the gold and glory of his physical prime. Alas, a 16-month period of inactivity stole this momentum, and forced the return of his belt to the youngest of boxing’s four main sanctioning bodies.
On his return, in late 2015, Andrade secured the vacant International version of the same title, a pungent confirmation of the ‘two steps back’ he’d taken following the ‘one step forward’. The vacancy of the original WBO belt, the similar status of the WBA version won in 2017 belt, and the vacancy of the WBO Middleweight strap he won on Saturday against Walter Kautondokwa, undermines their value in any fighter’s quest to legitimise his standing.
And, while it is pedantry to point to it now, in light of Andrade’s performance for much of Saturday night, it is nevertheless true.
This isn’t to diminish Andrade’s talent, nor dismiss his prospects in any signature fight with the great and good of the Middleweight division, which may variously include Alvarez, Golovkin, Saunders and Jacobs, but it does reflect the unnecessarily obtuse nature of the sport in the modern era.
After all, were Andrade to retire now, he could, in the modern understanding of the term, at some distant time in the future, relay to his wide-eyed grandchildren that he was a two-weight world champion. In a way Herol Graham, Bennie Briscoe and Charley Burley never could and this despite never having beaten a current champion. There remains time for Andrade to fulfil the undoubted potential his potent mix of craft, speed and combination punching suggests and in his victory on Saturday night he introduced a little more sizzle to his work too.
With the weight of DAZN and Matchroom Promotions behind him, there is scope to believe he may get the opportunities those qualities have long merited. Equally, in the way so many things have unfolded in his career, it may lead down yet another ‘cul-de-sac’ and preserve the anonymity that has blighted his decade as a prizefighter.
I hope not. Because he can undoubtedly fight.