Demetrius Andrade is better at boxing than I will ever be at anything. If I live another 100 years, the gap would still literally be unfathomable.
On top of being a talented boxer, Demetrius Andrade is a handsome guy. He’s charismatic and articulate in ways that almost never correlate with top-tier boxing, and seldom survive long-term exposure to that level of the sport.
He’s an Olympian. He’s a two-division world champion. He has all the recipe ingredients to make a star athlete, not just a champion boxer.
Unfortunately, Demetrius Andrade’s fights are mostly boring as hell.
Travel back in time 10 years, and here’s how Bad Left Hook described a Friday Night Fights main event performance from Andrade:
In the main event, the Hammond, Ind., crowd yawned and occasionally booed their way through a 10-round snoozer between easy winner Demetrius Andrade and veteran Grady Brewer. Andrade won with a dominant, jab-heavy performance, on scores of 98-92, 99-91, and 99-91, but while he impressed in how easy he made it look, I think it’s fair to say that he wasn’t truly impressive. The 23-year-old Andrade still has some strides to make, but the talent is there. He drew comparisons to Andre Dirrell all night, and I think that’s definitely valid. Both have talent, but there will always be questions, and the risk that their fights just aren’t going to be any fun to watch.
Things haven’t gotten much more entertaining since then. It’s not for lack of desire on Andrade’s part. He wants a major fight against an opponent like Canelo Alvarez, or Gennadiy Golovkin, or Jermall Charlo. Just ask him, and he’ll tell you. And tell you, and tell you, and tell you.
Meanwhile, the fights Andrade actually gets tend to follow a pattern. Andrade racks up a points lead by sweeping early rounds or scoring a knockdown against an over-matched opponent, then pops himself into cruise control for a victory on the cards.
There are exceptions. In his last fight against Liam Williams, Andrade started hot and earned a second round knockdown. But, Williams was too talented and aggressive for Andrade to just coast through the second half of the fight. The fact that Williams “[made] Andrade work for all 12 rounds” was surprising enough that it merited mention in our recap.
There are occasional stoppages, too. Like the “woefully over-matched” Luke Keeler in 2020, who kept getting up and marching back at Andrade for seven rounds until a “mercy stoppage” by the referee. Or, a debatable stoppage with 40 seconds to go against an over-matched and overwhelmed Artur Akavov back in 2019.
And, to be fair, Andrade did produce some thrills in his 2016 TKO victory against octogenarian country music legend Willie Nelson [EDITOR’S NOTE: Not the same Willie Nelson!] that earned a “Well, damn!” from our own Wil Esco.
But, that Willie Nelson fight was over five years ago. Since then? Andrade brings more aggression to Canelo Alvarez and Jermall Charlo press conferences than he does to the second half of most of his own fights. He generates more entertainment in Charlo’s Twitter notifications than he does in the ring.
Interestingly, Andrade actually passed on a contract to fight Jermell Charlo over seven years ago. The details are baffling, and ultimately led to a $20 million lawsuit for tortious interference. The short version is that, according to the lawsuit, the short-lived Roc Nation promotional company tried to lure Andrade away with the promise of a higher payday fighting on HBO.
I’m not sure if all those allegations are 100 percent accurate, but I do know all the nouns in the previous sentence are a fun reminder of what the sport looked like just a few years ago, and how radically the major pieces have changed on the chessboard of the boxing business.
Andrade has also been the victim of some unfortunate luck, as a middleweight championship showdown with Billy Joe Saunders blew up over a failed Saunders drug test blamed on a nasal decongestant spray. Instead of facing Saunders, Andrade won his WBO middleweight belt against Walter Kautondokwa, a fighter who’d only fought outside of Namibia one time (for a fight in Kenya), and who was so unheralded, we couldn’t get a licensed photo of him for the story announcing the fight.
How did that fight go? Andrade knocked Kautondokwa down four times in the first four rounds. Then, he rode out the fight for eight more rounds, largely coasting to a unanimous decision win where only one judge scored a round for Kautondokwa.
Andrade is very up front about his strategic approach to victory. Back in 2019, he responded to “boring style” criticism by saying:
“I’m showing a living, I’m showing longevity. I’m showing like I’m not going to the hospital at the end of the night — that’s what I’m showing. I wanna pass that down to the next generation to use that skills and talent and that brain where — I’m not going toe-to-toe for you, for them over there, for me to end up in a hospital or getting buried. That’s just not realistic for us. We have a life, we have a family.
“Sometimes you have to go to war with another man that’s bringing it. But if I can outclass somebody and he can go home and I can go home to our families, then that’s what we’re gonna do at the end of the day. This is a rough, tough business. You already got people that like to cheat, doing shit like steroids of course, nasal sprays, tainted meat. We’re already in a dangerous sport, why would you want to be accused of killing somebody in a sense when you’re using them drugs. So be smart, man, and don’t get hit. And then hopefully you can stay tall, black and pretty like me.”
Obviously, not every fight is going to be Hagler-Hearns, or Gatti-Ward, or Balboa-Lang II. I am certainly capable of finding entertainment in a “boring” fight. And, I don’t blame Demetrius Andrade one bit for making his own health and long-term cognitive function his top priority. It’s very reasonable that Andrade would focus more on making sure he can play competitive Scrabble in his 70s than on winning the love and adoration of boxing fans, a fickle audience under the best circumstances, in the present.
But… He wants a big fight against Canelo, or GGG, or Charlo. Just ask him. He’ll tell you. And tell you, and tell you, and tell you. And if you’re sick of hearing how much he wants to fight those guys? Go back a little more, and you can hear him talk about how much he wants to fight Erislandy Lara. Or Floyd Mayweather.
Unfortunately for Andrade, a major fight needs a major audience. And when your trainer/father openly coaches you to stop trying so hard after notching a first round knockdown on an opponent like Maciej Sulecki? Eventually, performances like that train the audience not to waste their time watching anymore, or at least not to expect much if and when they do tune in. Because it’s not fun or exciting to watch a 33-year-old man halfheartedly play with his food like a four-year-old shoving peas around a plate, killing time until asking for dessert. When a fighter with such talent makes it his purpose to give only as little of himself as possible, for only the least amount of time he can get away with, why bother watching at all?
Sports are big business because they’re meant to be big entertainment. If American football teams could kneel on the ball for the entire second half of a game to preserve a lead without losing, the Super Bowl would not be the most-watched TV program in the USA. And boxing in particular needs a certain level of excitement and tension, because there’s no team identity that keeps the crowd coming back through lean times. If your grandfather had a favorite baseball team, you can still buy a ticket to see them play, even if their address changed over the years. If your grandfather had a favorite boxer? That guy is probably dead.
I am not questioning or condemning the talent of Demetrius Andrade. And I certainly am not a “hater.” If anything, I identify with him on a constitutional level. In my school days, I brought home a lot of questionable report cards where phrases like “poor effort” and “not maximizing potential” made frequent appearances. But, look at me now! I’m arguably one of the five most significant contributors on the Bad Left Hook masthead, writing on the internet about a niche sport. It’s never too late to make the most of your ability.
At our house, every weekend is a battle for the family room television. My kids want to play Minecraft. My wife wants to watch British people bake cookies. This weekend, Demetrius Andrade gets another chance to live up to his ability, and “Daddy has to work” will leave my family, and probably me, disappointed.
Hopefully, Andrade actually gives a full effort from opening to closing bell. Hopefully, he actually makes use of his talent to promptly and properly close the show should Jason Quigley prove to be as outclassed as most of the foes Andrade has faced over the past half decade. If he doesn’t? He can say the names of Canelo, Golovkin, and Charlo all he wants. They’ll keep ignoring him.
And, paycheck or no, I’ll likely join them.