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Andrade vs Kautondokwa: Fight preview

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Demetrius Andrade and Walter Kautondokwa square off for the vacant WBO middleweight title.

Demetrius Andrade vs Walter Kautondokwa

This, of course, was supposed to be Andrade (25-0, 16 KO) challenging Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO middleweight title. But Saunders failed a VADA drug test, Massachusetts refused to license him, and the WBO stripped him of the title, which he hadn’t defended since beating David Lemieux in December 2017, repeatedly pulling out of fights this year.

Instead, the 30-year-old Andrade, a former titleholder at 154 pounds, will headline against little-known Kautondokwa (17-0, 16 KO), a 33-year-old Namibian who has never fought outside of Africa, and only once (in Ghana) outside of his home country.

Kautondokwa is a real wild card here. He hasn’t faced top competition, with his best win probably coming in his last fight against Argentine veteran Billi Godoy, a TKO-5. But as we’ve said many times on this site, just because you haven’t beaten top competition doesn’t mean you can’t.

“This is a huge opportunity for me and one I will take with both hands,” said Kautondokwa. “I’ve been in the gym and I am 100 percent ready to get to Boston and add Demetrius to my KO record.

“I’ve earned my spot as the number two (WBO) challenger in the division and I fear no man – Demetrius is a great fighter, but I know that I can KO any 160-pounder in the world, and that includes Andrade.”

Kautondokwa also pointed out that Andrade has been preparing for a crafty southpaw opponent, and now he’s facing a righty who has a big KO percentage.

“He’s been preparing for Billy Joe, who is a technical guy that doesn’t have power — I am going to be a nightmare for him next Saturday night and I am ready to become a major player in the middleweight division.”

Andrade can be a little inconsistent, too. Sometimes he looks terrific — he’s sparkled in wins over Brian Rose and Willie Nelson. Sometimes he looks more pedestrian — wins over Jack Culcay and Alantez Fox, which also happen to be his two most recent fights, both in 2017. He hasn’t fought in a year. Will that matter? Will the late change of opponent catch him off guard? Will he overlook a relative unknown, assuming his skills are too much?

Matchup Grade: N/A. I don’t know much at all about Kautondokwa, honestly, so I can’t confidently grade this, but I am intrigued by it, and that’s something, at least. If he can fight, then he’s a very interesting matchup for Andrade, who doesn’t always live up to his potential and skills. His power could be a nice neutralizer for Andrade’s likely superior skills. If he can’t fight, then, well, the WBO did what they could to get the best fight according to their dumb rankings in, and it is what it is.

Tevin Farmer vs James Tennyson

Farmer (26-4-1, 5 KO) is promising more power going forward, which I’m skeptical of. I mean, I get his points, that he has learned over time, on the job, how to fight better and how to get guys out easier, but I don’t know if he really has the power to make a major difference against top opponents. It’ll always be mostly about the craft with Tevin Farmer. Good news for him is, he’s got a lot of craft.

Tennyson is an interesting first title defense. The 25-year-old from Northern Ireland is getting a world title shot, and it’s hard to say he hasn’t earned it. I mean, in his last fight, Tennyson (22-2, 18 KO) stopped Martin Joseph Ward in the fifth round, taking the European and Commonwealth titles, as well as a minor WBA belt. There’s literally nowhere to go after you win a European title other than world level, so Tennyson is taking his crack at the IBF belt in Boston. He’s got a couple losses in his past, but then so does Farmer.

Matchup Grade: B-. I don’t LOVE this fight, but I like it fine. Tennyson’s key is his power, obviously, but he’s going to finding landing on the slippery Farmer a lot harder than it has been at domestic level in the UK. That said, if he does, he could get a game-changer in, and suddenly this great rise of Tevin Farmer could be in trouble. My gut tells me Farmer is too sharp, too zeroed in at this stage of his career, and he’ll get the win here. He could even stop Tennyson, who has been stopped in both of his losses, if he wears him out and frustrates him enough.

Katie Taylor vs Cindy Serrano

Dillian Whyte v Joseph Parker Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images

Taylor (10-0, 5 KO) has been somewhat fascinating for me as a pro, because for all the world, it looked like she was wearing down at the end of her amateur career, coming up shorter than her previous glories in big competitions. Turning pro has been fine, though, and along with Claressa Shields, notably, she’s showing how much of a boon to the women’s pro game that legit women’s amateur programs are going to be. She came in with skills a lot greater than those who didn’t have the amateur background.

The 32-year-old Taylor has fought twice this year, beating Victoria Bustos in April and Kimberly Connor in July. She won a decision over Bustos and a TKO-3 over Connor.

Serrano (27-5-3, 10 KO) is her next opponent, a Puerto Rican veteran, based in Brooklyn, who’s been fighting professionally since 2003. Serrano hasn’t lost a fight since 2012, but largely she’s spent that time fighting six-rounders, at least until 2016, when she picked up the WBO featherweight title. Now she moves up two divisions after a year out of the ring to challenge Taylor.

Matchup Grade: C+. My guess is that, again, Taylor’s amateur pedigree and skills will carry the day. But the 36-year-old Serrano is a legitimate pro who can fight, too. That said, I expect Taylor to be focused and ready to look as good as possible in Boston, which could be a big fight city again with Irish stars coming over, and Eddie Hearn clearly is thinking sort of the same.

Kid Galahad vs Toka Kahn Clary

Galahad (24-0, 15 KO) had his career interrupted a few years ago when he failed a drug test and was given a two-year ban. It’s been a bit of a road back since he returned in April 2016, and he’s taken it slow, not trying to get ahead of himself, picking up about where he left off, as a promising prospect who still had work to do.

Most recently, Galahad, 28, has beaten veterans Jose Cayetano and Irving Berry, which he should have. And then, because sanctioning bodies are weird, he was ordered, having never fought a world class opponent, into an eliminator by the IBF.

Good news! Toka Kahn Clary has also never fought a world class opponent. Kahn Clary (25-1, 17 KO) and Galahad are both talented fighters, though, so certainly we’ve seen worse people get title shots or shots at title shots. TKC, you may recall, suffered a shocker loss to Jhon Gemino back in 2016, but has come back nicely, winning six straight, including knocking off previously-unbeaten David Berna and John Vincent Moralde in 2017.

Matchup Grade: B-. It’s well matched on paper, even if the eliminator tag is a little ridiculous. They’re both talented fighters. It’s not a massive fight, but it’s not a bad one by any means.