Much avoided WBO world middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade (28-0-0, 17 Ko’s) defends his crown against Dublin’s Luke Keeler who earned his chance with a breakthrough win against Luis Arius in August in Belfast. The fight, promoted by Matchroom Boxing will take place at the Meridian at Island Gardens in Miami, Florida on Thursday, 30th January as part of a ‘Tripleheader’ including world title bouts between WBA/IBF super-bantamweight champion Daniel Roman vs Uzbekistan’s Murodjon Akhmadaliev, and IBF super-featherweight holder Tevin Farmer vs JoJo Diaz. The card will be streamed live by DAZN in the USA and shown on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.
Andrade is one of those boxers that is ‘just too good for his own good’. A slick southpaw who is well-schooled, quick, and hard to hit. Many outside boxing aficionados don’t always find Andrade exciting to watch, but he is a class act and avoided at all costs by the other world champions, Jermall Charlo (WBC), Canelo Alvarez (WBA), and Gennady Golovkin (IBF). The 31-year-old Andrade can make any opponent look bad even when one of them eventually beats him.
Promoter Eddie Hearn is working hard to secure a unification fight with Alvarez now that both champions are signed with streaming service DAZN, but if I were Canelo’s management, I would look elsewhere as Andrade, born and still residing in Providence, Rhode Island is easily capable of giving the Mexican a torrid night’s work and making him look bad at the same time.
Andrade marks time waiting for a career-defining fight by facing WBO #3 ranked middleweight contender Keeler (17-2-1, 5 Ko’s), a 32-year-old with an ordinary-looking record until he took the WBO European title away from Northern Ireland’s Conrad Cummings in April 2018 and then successfully defended it in a rematch just under a year later. The Arias opportunity came up 5 months afterwards and the Dubliner took it with both hands, winning by 96-91 on the scorecard of referee and sole arbiter Steve Gray.
Keeler was the underdog going in, quite understandably seeing as Arius had recently had a split decision draw with world-class Gabriel Rosado and a 12 round decision loss to Daniel Jacobs. Keeler had never faced anywhere this level of opposition in his six-year professional career. Arias fought with the air of a man who believed he would knock out the Irishman on his way to a world title shot but Keeler matched and bettered him in most departments, flooring him in the 1st and 9th rounds to add insult to injury.
It is fair to say that Keeler earned his title chance but boxing is the harshest of sports, and I fear he will learn the gap in level between the likes of Arias and Andrade. It is possible that Andrade could take him lightly, but the champion has so far looked the consummate professional and I think he will use the opportunity to put on a display to try and entice the other champions into facing him sometime in 2010.
Prediction: Andrade to stop Keeler after the halfway mark.