Last week before Super Bowl LIV, boxing had a chance to showcase some of its top fighters. In the main event of a Thursday Matchroom Boxing-produced card, Demetrius Andrade beat Luke Keeler inside the Meridian at Island Gardens in Miami, FL. As a result, Andrade successfully defended his WBO Middleweight Title for the third time.
When it came to deciding who was next, “Boo Boo” (29-0) was adamant he wants to face Billy Joe Saunders. The WBO Super Middleweight Champion was supposed to face Andrade months ago, but he tested positive for the banned substance Oxilofrine, delaying the potential bout. One of the problems with this fight is the health of Saunders and the fact that Andrade would have to move up in weight.
Andrade doesn’t want to be the one to force these fights that he believes should happen. Talking to DAZN News, “Boo Boo” discussed the inner workings of boxing, stating, “You know, if they focus on GGG and Canelo, then that’s their focus to make that happen. I’ve got to make sure my focus is me-Billy Joe (Saunders), me-(Jermall) Charlo, me and whoever, (Sergiy) Derevyanchenko. That’s all I can do.”
Andrade is also waiting to fight Canelo Alvarez, who doesn’t appear to be close to facing Andrade anytime soon. With a wide middleweight division, there are a plethora of options for Andrade. One fighter appears to be going under the radar, however: the aforementioned Derevyanchenko.
The 34-year-old Derevyanchenko (13-2) was just elevated to number one in the updated WBC middleweight rankings. Derevyanchenko has become one of the biggest anomalies in boxing today. He is 1-2 in his last three fights, but it is the story behind those fights you should be paying attention to.
Sergiy fought Daniel Jacobs, his teammate, back in October 2018 for the IBF Middleweight Title. He lost the bout, one in which he forced Jacobs to fight back in, via split decision. This was a true test for Jacobs, who was still working his way back from the controversial Gennady Golovkin loss. The bout helped Jacobs step up and face Canelo Alvarez, who he lost against via unanimous decision in a one-sided affair. Sergiy’s impact from the previous fight was not forgotten.
After beating Jack Culcay via unanimous decision back in April, Derevyanchenko’s next opponent was Golovkin. In a fight nobody (except those who know Sergiy) saw coming, GGG was pushed to his limit by the Ukrainian. Derevyanchenko came out firing in the third round with body shots that affected GGG throughout the fight. From the fourth until the eighth round Derevyanchenko was in control. Golovkin managed to come back, and he won in what many are calling a controversial call.
Before the fight, Andrade spoke about the two, and what he sees in them.
“Fighting either one of them would be cool,” said Andrade in a press release. “Sergiy is a durable guy, his only loss is to Danny Jacobs, one of the best out there, and we’re going to see what is left in GGGs tank tonight. Has he gotten a little older or not? We can’t tell until tonight, and it’s a good step up for Sergiy to see his skill level. Either way, I would get in the ring with the winner as they are both stand out guys.”
This would not be an easy fight for Andrade. Sergiy has shown signs of brilliance in almost every major fight he is in. His jab is consistent and he moves like a dancer; always hitting his mark. Digging inside, Derevyanchenko manages to get into the heads of his opponents, making them doubt what they believe they should do. Doing that with two major fighters in Jacobs and GGG rose his stock dramatically.
A fight between Andrade and Derevyanchenko is not something new that was just thought up either. Their names have been associated with one another since at least two+ years ago. In fact, a fight between the two was almost finalized for a December 2017 bout, but according to Keith Connolly, Derevyanchenko’s manager, Andrade withdrew at the last moment.
“We were in the ninth inning of negotiations to fight Andrade and had agreed on pretty much everything,” Connolly stated to BoxingScene. “We were told by his people that he was ready and that he had agreed. But then, at the last second, he pulled out.
“Andrade’s been saying for years that he’s the most avoided fighter and nobody wants to fight him,” Connolly continued. “And then the first real opponent he’s offered, he backs out of the fight when we were in the ninth inning of negotiations. So not only is he the most boring middleweight in the world, he’s the most scared middleweight in the world.”
The “boring” aspect of Andrade has been a common saying by various people within boxing. Andrade is a gifted fighter, but there are points, as seen in his fights with Keeler, Artur Akavov and Maciej Sulęcki, that the pace quickly dies down and Andrade forces the fight to last long. That is not to say he can’t finish, but these fights are meant to show how great he can be. Andrade believes he is next for the Canelo’s and Billy Joe Saunders’ of the world. Why not test himself against the ultimate challenge? A statement fight, if you will.
“Everybody needs a statement fight right now, I believe,” Andrade stated to BoxingScene. “That’s me, that’s Canelo, that’s Triple-G, Billy Joe [Saunders], [Jermall] Charlo. Everybody needs that statement fight and it’s just like, ‘Who’s gonna be the two guys to tangle with each other?’ It can’t be a statement fight versus a guy we all know you’re gonna beat. It can’t be that for me, it can’t be that for them or for anybody else. We have to get in the ring with each other.”
Sergiy has managed to prove against the top middleweights that he is the toughest challenge for them. It is entirely possible Derevyanchenko can beat Andrade, making the middleweight division extremely interesting. If Andrade were to beat Sergiy, and convincingly, it would help his case in becoming the elite fighter everyone knows he can be.
Would you like to see this matchup?