With former mandatory challenger Steven Butler off challenging Ryota Murata on December 23rd, the WBO have approved a voluntary defense between middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade and #2 contender Luke Keeler, which is planned for either the 30th or 31st of January in Miami. Whoever wins must then accept a mandatory defense, presumably against the winner of the upcoming Alantez Fox-Liam Williams eliminator on December 21st.
Ireland’s Keeler (17-2-1, 5 KO) got this opportunity by upsetting Luis Arias in August, dropping the former title challenger twice en route to a decision victory. His only major previous fights were his losses to Tom Doran, who stopped Keeler in their second go-around back in 2016, as he’s mostly faced poor-to-decent competition on the UK circuit.
As an aside, I recognize that it’s a great movie, but can we please come up with nicknames for Lukes besides “Cool Hand”?
Andrade (28-0, 17 KO) will be making the third defense of the title he dominated Walter Kautondokwa to claim in 2018. “Boo Boo” put away Artur Akavov in 12 this past January and followed that up with a dominant decision over Maciej Sulecki.
Not the most compelling fight, obviously, but it makes sense from the rankings and keeps Andrade busy while the top contenders sort themselves out, so things could be worse.