At any given time, there are always worthy fighters in the sports who end up overlooked. A good case right now would be undefeated super welterweight Demetrius Andrade.
The Ring currently rates Andrade at No. 6 at 154 pounds, so it’s not like he’s getting completely ignored. But in a crowded weight class that features the likes of Saul Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, the Charlo twins, Erislandy Lara, Austin Trout and Julian Williams, it can be tough for anybody to grab a share of the spotlight.
Andrade didn’t help himself by taking over a year off, between June 2014 and October 2015. After winning the vacant WBO title with a split-decision victory over Vanes Martirosyan, Andrade’s career was at an all-time high. Like Andrade, Martirosyan was an undefeated, former Olympian. Martirosyan just fought a tough bout against Lara, one of the division’s true elite, and remains a top 10 talent at 154 pounds. Despite the split-decision verdict, I thought Andrade clearly won the bout.
He defended that title once, stopping fringe contender Brian Rose in Round 7. A defense against Jermell Charlo in November 2014, but vacated the title when he couldn’t get terms that satisfied him.
After his year away from active competition, Andrade returned last October, for a low-profile, Round 2 stoppage of Dario Pucheta, a non-entity from Argentina. It was nice to see Andrade back in the ring where he belongs. But it wasn’t a victory anyone could get excited about.
He’s got a better fight this weekend, on the undercard of Ruslan Provodnikov vs. John Molina, when he faces Willie Nelson. Nelson is a borderline top-10 contender in his own right. He’s the rare super welterweight who actually has length that is superior to Andrade’s. He’s got classic punching power, as he demonstrated in July 2015, when he knocked out previously undefeated Tony Harrison.
This is definitely not a sure win for Andrade. But he’s the favorite. It should be a launching pad to some of the biggest fights that can be made at 154 pounds.