Demetrius Andrade talks defense of his title, first fight in hometown
By Stephen Tobey
Like many people who grew up in Rhode Island, Demetrius Andrade has many fond memories of going to events at the Dunkin Donuts Center.
“It’s a big venue; it’s an historic venue,” said Andrade. “I saw wrestling, the WWE, Disney on Ice, the circus.”
On June 29, Andrade (27-0 17 KOs) will be the main attraction in his hometown arena, making the second defense of his World Boxing Organization middleweight title against Poland’s Maciej Sulecki (28-1 11 KOs).
On Wednesday, May 22, Andrade and Sulecki were in the Dunkin Donut Center’s lobby for a press conference announcing the show to the local media.
The fight will be Andrade’s first in his hometown and his fourth in Rhode Island. Early in his career, he fought three times at the Twin River Casino in neighboring Lincoln, R.I. The last time was almost 10 years ago, on Oct. 3, 2009 when he won a somewhat competitive six-round unanimous decision against Chris Chatman.
Matchroom Boxing planned to have Andrade fight in Providence last October, when he won the vacant WBO title against Walter Kautondokwa, but the Dunkin Donuts Center was unavailable and the fight ended up in Boston (It was also scheduled to be against then-titleholder Billy Joe Saunders, but the Massachusetts commission declined to license Saunders after a failed drug test).
“We did really well in Boston,” said Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn. “We drew about 6 ½ thousand people. It was a great atmosphere. This is different. Demetrius is on the verge of a big fight against Canelo Alvarez or Triple G. It’s important that he wins on June 29 and he looks good doing it.”
At the beginning of 2018, Andrade was a World Boxing Association super welterweight titleholder, but was always lost in the shuffle when it came to landing big fights.
“It’s amazing to see where we’ve been and now less than a year later, what a difference,” said Andrade’s manager, Ed Farris. “We’re one step away from a fight with Canelo or Triple G. Eddie Hearn kept his word.
“Just a few years ago, he was an undefeated world champion fighting at Mohegan Sun, making $10,000 and guys he had beaten in the amateurs were making half a million, a million.”
Andrade signed with Matchroom Boxing last summer. Since then, the online streaming platform DAZN started showing fights in the United States and other prominent fighters, Alvarez and Golovkin, signed contracts with DAZN.
“We were really lucky with that,” Farris said. “When we signed, Danny Jacobs was the only middleweight they had and he only had one or two fights left. We had to pick between Eddie and DAZN and Top Rank and ESPN. Eddie said give me a shot and let’s give it a year or two and he’s kept his word.”
Now with most of the top middleweights associated with DAZN, the kind of fights he missed out on in the past are suddenly within his grasp.
“The middleweight division is hot,” Andrade said. “In in it. I’m one of the hottest guys there, so it’s good.”
Before he can fight Alvarez or Golovkin, he has to win against Sulecki, whose only loss was a decision against Jacobs.
“I am here because I want to win this fight and I will be 100 percent ready,” said Sulecki. “He’s a good fighter, a two-time World champion, but he’s not boxed anyone as good as me. It’s my dream to be world champion and on June 29 that dream comes true.”
Said Andrade, “Come June 29, I’ll make the proper adjustments and do what I need to do. This is the fight I need to make a statement that shows Canelo needs to fight me.”
In March, Sulecki won a unanimous decision against Gabriel Rosado for the WBO International title.
“Sulecki is a very tough, aggressive fighter,” Hearn said. “He loves to fight and he’s here to fight. He looked good against Danny Jacobs and Gabriel Rosado. He’s going to come right at you and try to know you out. It’s great preparation for someone like Canelo, not as far as styles go, but from a competitive standpoint.
“We need an atmosphere where this place is full, Demetrius wins by knockout and people say ‘Wow. Canelo must fight him.”