The eyes of the boxing world will be on Madison Square Garden this weekend, and that is as should be. When Gennady Golovkin faces off against David Lemieux on HBO pay-per-view, both the WBA and IBF middleweight titles will be on the line. As I noted in this space yesterday, the fight will be kicking off a three-month stretch in which four major fights will happen in the middleweight division. In addition to Golovkin vs. Lemieux, pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez will defend his WBC and lineal flyweight titles against former two-division champion Brian Viloria.
This promises to be an exciting night of potentially historic significance. So it’s only natural that almost anything else happening in boxing this weekend will go largely ignored.
Nevertheless, there other noteworthy cards on the schedule. Prominent among them is the return of Demetrius Andrade to action, after a lay-off of 16 months. He will be facing Fabian Puchetta of Argentina at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
Andrade is from Rhode Island, so this fight is essentially taking place in his backyard. An Olympian in 2008, Andrade is the former WBO junior middleweight champion, a title he was stripped of due to inactivity. This comeback bout is occurring just a week after Liam Smith of England captured the vacant WBO belt by stopping John Thompson.
As I noted here on Monday, Smith vs. Thompson was a real stretch as a world title fight. Smith needs to make a first defense against a fighter like Andrade, if he’s to have any true legitimacy as a top fighter in the division.
With Saul Alvarez moving to middleweight in November to face Miguel Cotto, Andrade is arguably a top-five fighter in the division. I’d rank him behind Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout and the Charlo twins, but he’s got a win over Vanes Martirosyan and a better resume than Julian Williams. He’s a tricky southpaw with outstanding length for 154 pounds.
In a press release provided last week by Banner Promotions, Andrade acknowledged that the lay off has been “frustrating,” but vowed that after Saturday night “the fans are going to be saying they need to see a lot more of Demetrius Andrade.”