Demetrius Andrade easily wins vacant middleweight world title

BOSTON -- Demetrius Andrade was facing the ultimate unknown opponent in Walter Kautondokwa, but he figured him out quickly and had no issues.

Andrade scored four knockdowns and cruised to a blowout decision to win a vacant middleweight world title against the late replacement before 6,874 on Saturday night at the TD Garden.

Andrade, a former two-time junior middleweight word titlist, claimed a belt in his second weight class via scores of 120-104, 120-104 and 119-105. ESPN.com also scored the fight a 120-104 shutout.

Andrade (26-0, 16 KOs) was supposed to challenge Billy Joe Saunders for his middleweight world title in a match between two of the best fighters in the division. But then Saunders failed a random Voluntary Anti-Doping Association urine test conducted on Aug. 30. He tested positive for the powerful banned stimulant oxilofrine, and when the results were returned on Sept. 26, less than a month before the fight, Andrade's new promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing, quickly made a deal with Kautondokwa, the next man in the WBO's rankings, to be on standby.

When the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission denied Saunders' application for a boxing license because of the positive test on Oct. 9 -- costing him a career-high $2.3 million payday -- he eventually vacated, knowing he would likely be stripped. That set up the fight between Andrade and Kautondokwa for the vacant 160-pound belt.

Kautondokwa (17-1, 16 KOs), 33, of Namibia, who had fought all of his bouts in his home country except for one in Ghana and had never faced a recognizable opponent until Andrade, was outclassed, though he always appeared to be just one big punch away from perhaps turning the fight around. But it never came.

According to CompuBox statistics, Andrade landed 152 of 501 punches (30 percent), and Kautondokwa landed only 45 of 325 shots (14 percent). Kautondokwa never landed more than eight punches in a round.

"After a one-year layoff, my second bout at 160, [I am] the new middleweight champion of the world, Demetrius Andrade," he said. "I feel good. I definitely think I carried my power well, and we're just going to keep building and growing for the 160-pound division, and I want to fight the best out there."

Andrade, who was fighting as a middleweight for only the second time and in his first fight in a year, since he outpointed Alantez Fox on Oct. 21, got off to a fast start. He landed a pair of hard left hands with about 30 seconds remaining in the first round that dropped Kautondokwa, who was much taller and held a reach advantage but could not put it to good use.

Kautondokwa did not appear badly hurt but took his time getting up.

The faster and way more skilled Andrade, a 2008 U.S. Olympian from Providence, Rhode Island, darted in and out and landed crisp shots on Kautondokwa, who was painfully slow and stiff. As Andrade revved up his attack, the pro-Andrade crowd chanted his nickname: "Let's go, 'Boo Boo,' let's go!"

In the third round, Andrade, 30, landed a heavy left hand that dropped Kautondokwa hard. Andrade thought the fight was over and jumped onto the ring ropes to celebrate an apparent knockout, but Kautondokwa, who fights out of the same stable as former unified junior welterweight titlist Julius Indongo and former lightweight titlist Paulus Moses, made it to his feet at the count of seven and was able to finish the final 30 seconds of the round.

Andrade landed another hard left in the fourth round that dropped Kautondokwa again, but Kautondokwa appeared to land his own left hand simultaneously for what looked like a rare double knockdown. However, referee Steve Willis counted only for Kautondokwa. Later in the round, Andrade landed yet another stiff left hand for a second knockdown in the round.

"He kept coming forward, and he didn't show any weakness, so I took my time and put my punches together," Andrade said. "He was actually getting stronger as the fight went on, and I just kept doing what I had to do. Kept doing my business and smiling."

The pace of the fight slowed considerably in the second half but Andrade was firmly in control as Kautondokwa could never land a big punch. It slowed because Andrade said that he had been having problems with his left shoulder leading up to the fight and that he re-injured it in around the fifth round.

"Walter's a strong, tough guy, and he can hang in there with the best," Andrade said. "We had to make adjustments. I used my boxing ability, and everything I was taught and worked on in the gym. He ain't never been 12 rounds before, and I haven't for a long time. I'm sailing a yacht, and we sunk him."

The fight was Andrade's first with Hearn as part of his new deal with sports streaming service DAZN, which earlier in the week signed unified middleweight world champion Canelo Alvarez to an athlete-record $365 million contract over five years and 11 fights. If Andrade keeps winning, he would almost certainly be a future opponent for Alvarez, boxing's biggest box office star.

That is the kind of big fight Andrade wants, though he did not call out Alvarez. Andrade knows he won't get the fight any time soon, but it is seemingly there in the future. With Golden Boy Promotions' other fighters also joining DAZN along with Hearn's stable, Andrade could eventually find himself facing former middleweight titlist David Lemieux, who is with Golden Boy, or the Hearn-promoted Daniel Jacobs, who faces Sergiy Derevyanchenko for a vacant middleweight title on Oct. 27 in one of the final HBO events before the network drops its boxing coverage at the end of the year.

Former unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin is also now a broadcast free agent, with the demise of the HBO boxing franchise, and DAZN has promised to aggressively pursue him.

Andrade could be back as soon as January as he works toward one of those big fights.

"I want to keep active. I'm gonna sit down with Eddie Hearn and see what's best for us. I could have taken [a different] route and taken two easy tune-up fights, but I didn't," said Andrade, who pressed for the Saunders bout rather than an easier path. "It's great, baby. Three-time world champion. We made history."