Middleweight world titlist Demetrius Andrade, once an all-but-forgotten man due to chronic inactivity, is now one of boxing's busiest elite fighters.
The man called "Boo Boo" hopes that activity -- combined with a convincing performance in his upcoming bout -- will lead him to the big one: a showdown for the undisputed 160-pound world championship against Canelo Alvarez, boxing's resident rock star/money man.
"I will not turn down a Canelo fight. I won't sell myself short, but I will not turn down a Canelo fight," Andrade said this week when asked about the prospect of a fall fight with Alvarez.
Alvarez is due to return on Sept. 14 and while talks center on a third fight with former unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, no deal has been struck yet, giving Andrade a glimmer of hope.
Of course, Andrade must first deal with what is in his immediate future, and that does not figure to be an easy task. He makes his second title defense against Maciej Sulecki on Saturday (DAZN, 9 p.m. ET) at the Dunkin' Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island, Andrade's hometown.
"I'll make the proper adjustments to make sure I put on the type of fight I need to put on so when I get my hand raised I'm gonna yell out 'Canelo!'" Demetrius Andrade
It will be Andrade's first fight there in his 11-year professional career. Rhode Island hasn't been home to big-time boxing since the Vinny Pazienza heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so Andrade is thrilled to bring it back.
"It feels good to actually show people from my hometown my skills and talent versus having them watching on TV and not being able to feel the electricity and the vibes," Andrade said. "Now they can feel the energy of fight week. This is more for them. For me, it's great. I love it. But I plan on being at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (eventually) against Canelo though, you know? That's where I want to be. But this feels good overall just being able to involve New England, Rhode Island and the whole area in boxing.
"I'm not fighting Rocky Fielding and I'm not fighting Steve Rolls," Andrade said, denigrating recent lesser opponents whom Alvarez and Golovkin faced, respectively. "I'm fighting a top-10 guy. He does have experience. He does have will, heart. When I get into the ring I need to show what I can do, not tell you what I'm gonna do. I want to go in there [and] knock him out."
Sulecki (28-1, 11 KOs), 30, of Poland, earned the shot by winning a wild 10-round decision in March against Gabriel Rosado in a fight in which both men were knocked down twice in Rosado's hometown of Philadelphia. Though the fight was not a formal title eliminator, promoter Eddie Hearn had said beforehand that the winner would get a shot this summer at Andrade.
Sulecki owns wins against Jack Culcay (whom Andrade outpointed in a 2017 world title fight), Hugo Centeno Jr. and Grzegorz Proksa. In his biggest fight, Sulecki gave a tough battle in a decision loss to former world titlist Daniel Jacobs in April 2018.
Andrade, ranked No. 5 in the middleweight division by ESPN, said nobody should mistake his calls for Alvarez as a sign he is overlooking Sulecki.
"I don't look past Sulecki but I look into the future. I'm confident," Andrade said. "Who cares about GGG-Canelo III? Honestly, who cares? The public, the mainstream, that's all they know because of the great job (Alvarez promoter) Oscar (De La Hoya) did with Canelo, the great job Tom Loeffler did with GGG. I have been doing a great job by winning. So now I have DAZN and Eddie Hearn pushing me to get more mainstream and to show what I'm capable of doing. I talk it, I walk it and I do what it takes to win.
"I'll make the proper adjustments to make sure I put on the type of fight I need to put on so when I get my hand raised I'm gonna yell out, 'Canelo!'"
Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs), 31, a two-time junior middleweight world titlist and 2008 U.S. Olympian, gave up a world title and moved up to middleweight in late 2017. After a one-year layoff, he returned in October and won a vacant title by near-shutout decision against Walter Kautondokwa, whom he knocked down four times in Boston. Andrade was back in the ring in January for his first defense, a 12th-round knockout of Artur Akavov in New York.
Saturday's fight will mark his third fight in just eight months -- busy by any standard for a top boxer, but wildly active for Andrade, whose career has been marred by long stretches of inactivity, some due to his own decisions and some caused by his former promoters.
"As far as the activity level, it's great. It helps me being comfortable in the ring more and more," Andrade said. "I am getting into my peak. For my profile, it is about racking up them wins. I may not be fighting the most popular guys like Canelo or GGG. But I am fighting real fighters, tough guys who want to prove that they belong and be world champions. So my profile is that I am constantly taking on top-10, top-15 guys. My activity level is getting better as I made the right choice to move over with DAZN and having three fights in the last eight months. It is great for me. It is great for boxing. It is great for the future of the middleweight division."
Andrade, a southpaw, said the difficult times of inactivity and battles with his former promoters are in the past. He is comfortable at middleweight, healthy, finally earning seven-figure purses and at long last fighting at home -- on a card that also features the return of former heavyweight world titlist Joseph Parker against former world title challenger Alex Leapai and junior bantamweight world titleholder Khalid Yafai's mandatory defense against Norbelto Jimenez.
"Right now the stakes are high. It has to do with getting in the ring with Canelo, so I'm gonna do whatever I need to do to get in the ring with Canelo," Andrade said. "All I want to do is prove to myself that I'm the best middleweight out there.
A win over Sulecki, especially an impressive one, figures to put Andrade into the Alvarez sweepstakes. That's just how Andrade wants it.
"Is Sulecki a statement or a stepping stone? Of course. He's the guy [in] front of me right now," Andrade said.
"This is definitely a fight that is going to bring a lot of noise and will show people what I am about. Sulecki is not a bad fighter at all. He is where he is because of the skills and talent he has. But in this weight division, I am the best in terms of skills and talent. All I have to do is keep on winning."
And then maybe, just maybe, Canelo will come calling.