A myriad of reasons kept the 27-year-old Andrade out of the ring and without a purse check since June 14, 2014, when he destroyed No. 1 mandatory contender Brian “The Lion” Rose (25-1-1, 7 KOs) in seven rounds, impressively winning on HBO in what turned out to be his first and only World Boxing Organization (WBO) title defense. Andrade, fighting out of Providence, originally captured the vacant WBO 154-pound title November 9, 2013, also aired on HBO, defeating previously unbeaten 2004 U.S. Olympian Vanes “Nightmare” Martirosyan (33-0-1, 21 KOs) by way of a 12-round decision.
During his past 16 frustrating months, Andrade has been stripped of his WBO title, essentially banned from fighting on network television, dropped from all ratings, and unfairly branded as a fighter who talks a big game but turns down tough fights.
“I’m relieved and grateful to be fighting again, especially close to home and in front of my fans,” Andrade said about his Oct. 17 fight against Argentinian opponent Dario Fabian “El Gallo” Pucheta (20-2, 11 KOs), a former South American champion, in the 10-round main event for the vacant WBO & WBA International super welterweight championships. “It’s good to finally have a date and I’m very happy to get back in the ring. It isn’t the fight I really wanted, but Pucheta has a good record and he always comes to fight. I wanted to fight Delvin Rodriguez, which would have been a good fight in Connecticut because that’s where he comes from and I live in Rhode Island, but, I guess, his people didn’t want him to fight me. They must be saving him for somebody else.
“So, I needed to take this fight (off-TV vs. a non-ranked opponent) to get back into action, to where I want to be and belong. It’s not like I failed in the ring to lose my title belt. I was disappointed to lose it, of course, but that’s not what identifies me. People know who the best fighters are in the world. All I ever wanted was to do was fight. I want to stay active and I believe I can fill Floyd’s Mayweather’s shoes as boxing’s next superstar.”
During his long hiatus from the ring, Andrade called out Mayweather, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Erislandy Lara, and other world-class fighters to no avail, remaining on the shelf waiting to landing a career defining fight that never materialized. Andrade, a 2007 World Championships gold medal winner and four-time national amateur champion, has filed a lawsuit against Roc Nation, claiming the promotional company, owned by Jay-Z, reneged on a promise to pay him $550,000.
“The only fight I ever turned down was against (Jermall) Charlo,” Andrade explained. “Because I was in that situation with Jay-Z. I thought he and his company could really help me, in the ring and marketing-wise. I chose not to take that fight (Dec. 13, 2014 vs. Charlo) but, when things didn’t happen with Roc Nation, I signed a contract to fight Charlo (Jan. 14, 2015). Instead, he signed a deal to fight Martirosyan. I never knew anything about the (Matt) Korobov fight (for vacant WBO middleweight title) until after it was announced. I never intended to move up to middleweight, at that time, to fight him or anybody else. Later, I even offered to fight (Anthony) Mundine in his backyard (Australia) for short money, just to keep my title, but that didn’t work out either. I guess that’s all part of this game.”
Andrade trained three or four days a week, even without a date to fight, and he is stronger than ever, physically and mentally. He is returning to the ring with a vengeance, promising to make a major statement Oct. 17 and beyond.
“I’m going to make a statement that I’m the best 154-pound fighter in the world and show why nobody wants to fight me,” Andrade concluded. “I’m going to showcase all of my skills with my October 17th performance. I’m looking ahead, not in the past.”
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Follow Demetrius Andrade on Twitter @AndradeATeam or @BooBooBoxing.