Demetrius Andrade finally has the signature fight he has been looking for, but getting a win could be a tall order for the Providence native.
Andrade, 35, will take on David Benavidez Saturday night in Las Vegas in a super middleweight bout, with Benavidez’s interim WBC title on the line.
It’s been a long time coming for the 2008 Olympian. It appeared Andrade (32-0, 19 KOs), would have an elite matchup in 2015 with Jermell Charlo, but the fight fell through when he could not agree on a purse.
In 2018, England-based Matchroom Boxing made its foray into North America and wanted Andrade to be the main event of its first card, held at TD Garden in October, to face Billy Joe Saunders. But one month before the fight, Saunders tested positive for a banned substance and the fight was canceled.
Andrade still served as the headliner for the show, winning a unanimous decision against little-known Walter Kautondokwa.
It was Saunders who would go on to get his shot against Canelo Alvarez on a pay-per-view card in front of 73,126 spectators at AT&T Stadium in May of 2021. The fight was stopped after the eighth round when Saunders’s right eye had swollen shut after Canelo broke his orbital bone. Andrade has gone 6-0 in that time, but against less accomplished opponents, including a second-round TKO over Jason Quigley of Ireland in November 2021 at SNHU Arena in New Hampshire.
That will not be the case on Saturday, when Andrade will be fighting for just the second time since moving up to super middleweight. Benavidez, 26, has already two high-profile fights, stopping David Lemieux in the third round in May of 2022, and defeating Caleb Plant by a unanimous decision in March to improve to 27-0 with 23 knockouts.
But it will be more than Benavidez’s title that’s on the line. Both fighters have been clamoring for an even bigger fight against Alvarez, and Saturday night’s winner would appear to have the inside track to what would be a huge payday. A loss would be a setback, particularly for Andrade because he is nine years older than Benavidez.
Both fighters have done their best to ignore or deflect questions about Alvarez ahead of Saturday night.
”I’m excited for this bout,” said Andrade, who will be going for a third title after having been a champion at junior middleweight and middleweight. “I’ve been patiently waiting. This is the greatest fight that could be made at 168 pounds right now.”
Hall of fame boxing broadcaster Jim Lampley will return to co-host a live viewer chat with Lance Pugmire on PPV.com’s livestream.
“Benavidez is a young, confident, charismatic destroyer with unusual straight-ahead power and aggressive fighting instincts,” said Lampley. “Andrade is a superbly conditioned, athletically gifted southpaw counterpuncher with guile, craft, and experience.
“To win, Benavidez must go forward aggressively and impose his advantages in size and power, while Andrade must make Benavidez miss and then make him pay, employing superior elusiveness and counterpunching. Their styles are made for each other.”
Follow Andrew Mahoney @GlobeMahoney.