By Jim Calfa: Demetrius Andrade may delay his move up to 168 by staying at 160 to defend his WBO middleweight title against his mandatory Zhanibek Alimkhanuly next.
According to Chris Mannix of DAZN, Andrade’s promoter Eddie Hearn is in talks with Top Rank, the promoters for the unbeaten Zhanibek (11-0, 7 KOs), for a fight in the first quarter of 2022.
It’s a potentially risky fight for the unbeaten Andrade (31-0, 19 KOs) because this would arguably be the most dangerous opponent he’s faced during his 14-year professional career, and it’s coming at the worst possible time.
The 33-year-old Andrade wants the elusive big-name fighters in Canelo, Jermall Charlo, or Gennady Golovkin. But if he loses to the heavy-handed 2016 Olympian Zhanibek, he can permanently forget about any of those fights happening.
If Andrade vacates his WBO middleweight title to move up to 168 and be made the mandatory for Canelo’s super middleweight title, there are no guarantees that the Mexican star will ever fight him.
Indeed, Canelo will likely vacate his WBO 168-lb title if the sanctioning body attempts to force him to defend against the tall 6’0″ Andrade because it’s a bad style match-up for him.
Andrade stuck with Zhanibek
“Demetrius Andrade has been ordered to defend his [WBO] middleweight title against mandatory challenger Zhanibek Alimkhanuly,” said Chris Mannix on JABS on DAZN.
“Demetrius Andrade had hopes of defending his title against Jermall Charlo or Jaime Munguia after knocking out Jason Quigley last November. But in order to keep his belt, he’ll have to defend it against Alimkhanuly.
“I think Andrade should make one more run over the next few months at 160. That means going forward with this mandatory against Alimkhanuly
“I’ve been told there have been some preliminary discussions between Eddie Hearn and Top Rank about making a fight with Janibek Alimkhanuly, then see what happens with Canelo and if he chooses Jermall Charlo.
“See what happens with Jaime Munguia if Munguia does not get a Golovkin fight over the next six months,” said Mannix in making it clear that he thinks Demetrius should chance it against his WBO mandatory Alimkhanuly.
“That’s how he gets beat by this young unknown second version of Gennadiy Golovkin. That’s how Zhanibek fights,” said Sergio Mora about him thinking it’s a bad idea for Demetrius to fight the Kazakh.
“He’s an unknown guy that has already beaten two former champions by knockout by submission pretty much. He beats them down until their corner has got to stop it: said Mora about Zhanibek.
Andrade is stuck between a rock and a hard place, with the WBO ordering him to face Zhanbibek.
If Andrade vacates to swerve Zhanibek, he might not be any better off at 168 than he is now in terms of getting the big money fights that he craves.
Moving up to 168 would leave Andrade without a title, and it could be ages before the WBO ordered Canelo to defend against him.
Again, if the WBO orders the Mexican star to defend against Andrade, he’ll likely vacate immediately. Popular super middleweights Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders probably won’t agree to fight Andrade because it’s not worth it for them.
Zhanibek risky fight for Demetrius
“This guy [Zhanibek] is the real deal, he’s an Olympian, and he’s a southpaw just like Andrade,” said Mora. “He’s a hard puncher, he’s patient, and he’s an unknown. You don’t get up for guys like that. This is going to be a recipe for disaster for Andrade.
“On the top of my head, I’m trying to think of a former champion that got beat by an unknown. Amir Khan, there you go when he got knocked out by an unknown [Briedis Prescott]. It derails your career, and you have to come back.
“There are a lot of champions that get beat by mandatorys like this that they shouldn’t have fought. It’s about taking the right fights, calculated risks in making money all the way to the top until finally, one of these champions is forced to look your way.
“It’s kind of like how Erislandy Lara did with Canelo. He kept winning, winning, winning, and keeping the championship until he finally got cashed out against Canelo,” said Mora.
“Will you stop? You have attributed things to Alimkhanuly that have not been proven to be there yet,” said Mannix.
“You’re putting too much stock in wins over washed-up Rob Brant and washed-up Hassan Ndam. That’s ridiculous, and that what you’re doing,” Mannix said.
Zhanibek is a risky fight for Andrade and the best fighter he’ll have faced. The 33-year-old Andrade isn’t young, and he struggled against the heavy-handed Liam Williams last year.
Zhanibek hits just as hard as Williams but is much more talented. This is a fight that Andrade will need to be on his bike the entire time if he doesn’t want to get knocked out.
Should Demetrius stay at 160?
“It’s ridiculous to think this guy [Zhanibek] is some fearsome threat to Demetrius Andrade, but whatever,” said Mannix in expressing doubts about the threat Zhanibek presents to Andrade.
“I think Andrade should take one more shot at getting those big names [Canelo, Gennadiy Golovkin, Jermall Charlo, and Jaime Munguia] because look.
“Everyone knows my feelings about Jermall Charlo. I think Charlo has embarrassed himself over the last three years by only fighting once and year and not taking on big-time challenges.
“Putting that aside, it’s time for Jaime Munguia to take a significant fight. Jaime Munguia has been at middleweight for two years and has fought four times in those two years. He’s ready for a real challenge.
“He’s followed Golovkin around, hoping Golovkin will give him a shot. Golovkin will probably fight in February or March against [WBA middleweight champion] Ryota Murata.
“He may want to wait and see what Canelo Alvarez is going to do in his next fight in May. Munguia, he made fight Demetrius Ballard or maybe fights somebody else. But the time has come for Jaime Munguia to take a real test.
“Demetrius Andrade is saying he’ll give Munguia a title shot right now. Munguia should jump on it and take it,” said Mannix.
As long as Andrade’s purses don’t decrease after he vacates his WBO middleweight title to go up to 168, he should make a move.
It doesn’t seem like Andrade will be better off moving up in weight if he can’t get any famous fighters like Canelo or Plant to fight him. At this point, the only reason it would make sense for Andrade to move up to 168 is if he’s not confident of beating Zhanibek.
Andrade on the verge of big money
“Demetrius Andrade is only one big fight away from getting that boatload of money like you said,” said Mora. “Whenever you’re talented, and you’re avoided, it’s going to take you a long time to make that money.
“Think about all the greats that had to wait until they were in their 30s before they made the millions. I would love to see him fight against BJ Saunders, come back and fight Demetrius Andrade like he was supposed to do before.
“And I would love to see David Lemieux at 168 to fight Demetrius Andrade. I would love to see him fight against Munguia. These are what ifs? In between those what-ifs, a guy like Zhabibek comes into the mix and blows everyone out of the water. I think he’s the real deal.
“I watch him fight, and he’s a patient assassin; he’s a southpaw, has Olympic pedigree, and has power in both hands. This is a guy that you don’t want to face, especially when you’re on the brink of making all that money. I say don’t risk it,” said Mora.
“He’s [Andrade] not on the brink of making all that money. What are you talking about?” said Mannix about Demetrius. “Where is this Brinks truck backing up for Demetrius Andrade right now? Where is it? At 168, it’s not there.
“You cannot point to a big-time fight that’s there for Demetrius Andrade right now at 168,” said Mannix.
I disagree that Andrade is on the verge of getting a big money fight because none of the big names at 160 have shown interest in fighting him. GGG, Charlo, and Jaime Munguia haven’t expressed interest in fighting Andrade,