Demetrius Andrade is once again forced to entertain a backup plan for his next ring adventure.
The undefeated two-division and reigning middleweight titlist has been ordered to enter negotiations for a mandatory title defense versus Wales’ Liam Williams. Representatives from the World Boxing Organization (WBO) were not in a position to comment on the ruling, although BoxingScene.com has learned that the two sides will have until the end of January to work out terms.
Should a deal not be reached within the assigned 15-day period, the WBO will then notify all parties of a purse bid hearing to scheduled, likely in early February.
Andrade will attempt the fourth defense of the WBO 160-pound title he acquired in a 12-round shutout of unbeaten Walter Kautondokwa in their Oct. 2018 vacant title fight. Andrade (29-0, 18KOs) originally entered the assigned fight date as the mandatory challenger to England’s Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14KOs), who tested positive for oxilofrine during random pre-fight drug testing as contracted through Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency.
Saunders was stripped of the title, leaving Andrade to collect the belt which he has since defended three times. The last such occasion came in a 9th round stoppage of Ireland’s Luke Keeler, Andrade’s mandatory challenger at the time of their pre-Super Bowl DAZN headliner last January in Miami, Florida.
From there came the initial order from the WBO for Andrade to enter talks with Williams (23-2-1, 18KOs), a streaking middleweight contender from Clydach Vale, Wales who has won his last seven starts—all by knockout. Most notable among the current run enjoyed by the 28-year old are back-to-back stoppages of Karim Achour and Alantez Fox to close out his 2019 campaign.
Hopes of a title shot versus Andrade in the first part of 2020 were thwarted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Travel restrictions proved problematic in rescheduling the affair, with both boxers granted interim non-title fights. Williams took care of overmatched Andrew Robinson, needing just 88 seconds to rack up his latest win last October at BT Sport Studio in Stratford, England.
Andrade wasn’t quite as fortunate to make his way back to the ring. A planned showcase fight last November in Hollywood, Florida fell through after originally scheduled opponent Dusty Hernandez-Harrison tested positive for COVID. The development came just seven days before the fight, with too little time left to secure a replacement opponent.
Andrade was previously entertaining the possibility of a rescheduled fight with Saunders, who currently reigns as the WBO super middleweight title. The Providence-bred southpaw—a former 154-pound titlist who served on the 2008 U.S. Olympic boxing team which competed in Beijing—was prepared to vacate his middleweight title if necessary, in order to pursue a major title in his third weight division.
Such a move would be the only way to avoid a showdown with Williams, as parties are not permitted to abandon talks once a mandatory title fight is ordered.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox