Undefeated WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade will face challenger Luke Keeler on a DAZN card this Thursday at the Meridian at the Island Gardens in Miami.
Andrade-Keeler headlines a big Thursday night card for DAZN on the Eve of Super Bowl weekend, with two other world title fights at 130 and 122 pounds.
Meanwhile, YouTube sensations Jake Paul and AnEsonGib have stolen the headlines ahead of their clash in South Florida.
A Puzzling Main Event
This one is a bit of a head-scratcher considering that Keeler (17-2-1, 5 KOs) is not in the same league as Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs).
Matchroom Boxing promotor Eddie Hearn has been trying to build up Andrade’s name since signing him back in July 2018, but he has been unable to match him with the biggest stars.
Several days ago, Andrade signed a four-fight contract extension with Matchroom Boxing.
The Keeler bout will count as the first fight of the new deal.
No disrespect to the fighters Andrade has faced under his new banner but wins over the likes of Walter Kautondokwa, Artur Akavov and Maciej Sulecki, albeit a mandatory, will not cut it.
The talented southpaw needs to be matched tougher to secure the bigger fights against Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin down the road.
You could make a compelling case that Andrade-Keeler should have been on the undercard instead and not the main attraction, as there are better fights on paper happening that night.
Tale of the Tape
A cursory look at this fight suggests that it will likely be a mismatch. Keeler is a huge underdog, who hasn’t registered a knockout since 2014 and yet believes he’ll stop Andrade.
“When I beat him, I want to be mentioned in the same way,” said Keeler.
“Everyone is chasing that Canelo money as well. If you beat Andrade, I’ll be right there, you know?”
Keeler is a decent boxer but he’s no world beater. His biggest wins have been over the likes of Jason Ball, Lewis Taylor, Conrad Cummings and Bradley Pryce.
He beat Cummings by a 10-round unanimous decision in April, 2018 for the vacant WBO European Middleweight title and his points win over Pryce was for the vacant BUI Celtic Middleweight belt in November, 2016.
He has been defeated twice by journeyman Tom Doran making his unusually high ranking (#3) by the WBO almost undeserving.
The problem with Andrade is that he can be masterful at times, but his performances are inconsistent. He doesn’t let his hands go when necessary and sometimes lacks the killer instinct to finish an opponent when they’re hurt.
The 2008 Olympian looked flat against Sulecki last June and was on wobbly legs in the later rounds after taking a succession of shots. Fortunately, Sulecki is not a big puncher and Andrade held on for the decision.
However, the Providence man also staggered against another light-hitter in Akavov, before stopping him in the final round, so those rocky moments must be worrisome for his team.
At 31-years-old, Andrade is still in his prime, but the question of whether the Rhode Island native will ever reach his full potential remains.
Keeler gives up a half-inch in height to Andrade at just under 6-feet tall. The 32-year-old lacks power with only a 25 percent knockout rate and has labored to unremarkable wins in his last 13 outings, which doesn’t bold well going into this title fight.
It’s hard to see how Keeler gets the win here in taking a major step up in class without any real indicator that he deserves a title shot.
For all his physical gifts and considerable talents, Andrade has virtually wallowed in obscurity as one of the least recognized American champions.
He desperately needs to attract new fans and keep the established ones but this fight does neither.
Verdict: ‘Boo-Boo’ will be too slick for Keeler and should stop him inside of eight rounds.
Farmer vs Diaz
The IBF junior lightweight title will be up for grabs when Tevin “American Idol” Farmer takes on Joseph “JoJo” Diaz.
Farmer (30-4-1, 6 KOs) is the odds-on favorite to retain his strap against Diaz (30-1, 15 KOs), who is making a second attempt at winning a major world title.
He lost that first bid against Gary Russell Jr via unanimous decision, accounting for his only defeat in a 30+ fight career.
Farmer, 29, has not tasted defeat since suffering a TKO loss to Jose Pedraza back in 2012 and will be making the fifth defense of the title he claimed by defeating Billy Dib.
The Philadelphia native is known for his quick reflexes and has an incredible ability to slip punches at close distance, and fire off his own accurate combinations when countering.
Those attributes have served him well since he doesn’t pack a powerful punch, with just a 20 percent knockout rate.
In Diaz, the champion faces an aggressive close range banger with good power in both hands. JoJo does a good job attacking the body early and often, before going to the head.
Defensively, he’s not shabby either with excellent footwork and really knows how to stick and move when throwing his heavier strikes.
Farmer is the bigger man with the longer reach and should be able to control the action with his superior speed for the victory.
Verdict: Farmer via majority decision
Roman vs Akhmadaliev
Daniel Roman will defend his two junior featherweight titles against WBA mandatory challenger Murodjon Akhmadaliev in what should be a fantastic fight.
Roman (27-2-1, 10 KOs) and Akhmadaliev (7-0, 6 KOs) were originally set to meet in September in New York, but Roman got injured and the fight was postponed.
The Los Angeles man traveled to Japan, where he stopped Shun Kubo in nine rounds to win the title in 2017. He’s since made several defenses, unifying it with the IBF strap in April of this year in a phone-booth war against TJ Doheny.
Akhmadaliev is a 2016 Olympic Bronze medalist from Uzbekistan and a southpaw with skills and power that should present an interesting challenge for the battle-tested Roman.
Akhmadaliev will also be chasing history as he seeks to equal Leon Spinks’ record by becoming the second man to unify titles in just his eighth pro bout. A win would also make him the first unified champion from his home country.
The challenger is coming into this bout with four straight knockouts and should be regarded as dangerous considering his amateur pedigree. But the unified champion has gone unbeaten for the past six years and is riding an impressive 19-fight win streak.
Roman has never been stopped with both of his only losses coming via decision.
However, a talent like Akhmadaliev as well as the historical implications of this matchup could change all of that.
Verdict: I’ll pick the slightly younger and perhaps hungrier Akhmadaliev to make history via knockout in a fight that will most likely steal the entire show.
Anthony Sims Jr (20-0, 18 KOs vs Roamer Alexis Angulo (25-1, 22 KOs)
Amanda Serrano (37-1-1, 27 KOs) vs Simone Aparecida Da Silva (17-14, 6 KOs)
Otha Jones III (4-0, 1 KO) vs Juan Santiago (16-17-2, 9 KOs)
Movladdin Biyarslanov (5-0, 4 KOs) vs Nicolas Atilio Velazquez (11-7, 3 KOs)
Alexis Espino (4-0, 3 KOs) vs Vincent Baccus (4-1-1, 3 KOs)
Austin Williams (4-0, 3 KOs) vs Donald Sanchez (5-2, 3 KOs)
Avril Mathie (4-0-1, 2 KOs) vs Angelina Hoffschneider (0-2-0)