This weekend Demetrius Andrade and Vanes Martirosyan will collide for the vacant WBO junior middleweight crown. It’s an intriguing matchup of two unbeaten pros – Martirosyan (33-0-1, 20 knockouts) and Andrade (19-0, 13 KOs) – who each represented the U.S. at the Olympics, in 2004 and 2008, respectively.
The fight marks the end of the longest layoff since turning pro for Andrade, but the 25-year-old southpaw from Rhode Island isn’t bothered by the inactivity. The former amateur standout who won gold at the 2007 World Championships intends to use the Martirosyan fight as a springboard to the elite at 154, confidently proclaiming, “I’m concentrating on my Nov. 9 fight, but after that I want to fight Cotto. He’s only a few steps down from Mayweather.”
Andrade-Martirosyan will be part of the three-fight broadcast on HBO that includes the return of Nonito Donaire vs. old adversary Vic Darchinyan, and Mikey Garcia stepping up to 130 to challenge Roman Martinez for his WBO crown. The action from Corpus Christi, Texas, goes live at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT.
Here’s more of what Andrade had to say:
Anson Wainwright – What are your thoughts on the Martirosyan fight?
Demetrius Andrade – I’m very excited to get this opportunity to showcase talents to let people know I’m here and here to stay. I’m going to take over my division shortly and control it for years to come. I’m happy to be getting this shot.
AW – Like yourself Martirosyan is unbeaten and also an Olympian. What do you think of him as a fighter?
DA – He has ability to have made the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team, but I’m going to show people how superior I am to him. I’m not worried about what he brings or doesn’t bring into the ring. I’m concentrating on what I do best and that’s win!
AW – You were due to meet Zaurbek Baysangurov back in July for the WBO title in his homeland of Ukraine but it fell out when he was injured.
DA – It was smart of him to pull out because he was going to get an ass-whooping. He pulled out of a fight being held in his hometown, in front of his fans, and promoted by his promoter, K2. Maybe we’ll fight another day.
AW – By fight night you will have been inactive for almost 10 months. How frustrating has this been for you?
DA – I’m not frustrated at all. This fight is to show people what caliber fighter I am, and a lot of the top guys only fight twice a year. I’m stronger, faster and wiser and everybody will see that on Nov. 9.
AW – How relieved are you to finally be back in action?
DA – It’s nice to wake up every day with a goal to fight for the WBO title on Nov. 9 and do what I’ve done my whole life. This fight has brought excitement into my life. I’ve been working towards this goal and I’m excited about this opportunity.
AW – You were born, raised and still live in Providence, R.I., can you tell us about your early years growing up?
DA – I started going to the gym when I was 5 because my dad (Paul) owned a gym and my older brother (Michael) was a boxer. That’s why I was introduced to the gym so young. I had my first fight when I was 6 or 7. Boxing kept me off the streets. I played youth football but had to decide between football and boxing to concentrate on one sport.
AW – Can you tell us about your amateur accomplishments? Including winning gold at the 2007 Worlds & appearing at the 2008 Olympics?
DA – I had more than 300 amateur fights all over the world against every imaginable style. That’s why I adjust to different styles so well as a professional. Winning the Worlds was real big because it proved I could produce when it was time to shine. I stopped my opponent in the second round in the championship final to win a gold medal. I’m the type who wants the ball with the game on the line with 5 seconds to go. I became harder, faster and strong. I got to the Olympics but the scoring wasn’t fair. I never want to leave the outcome of my fights in the hands of the judges because of my experience in the Olympics.
AW – You’ve been a pro now for 5 years. How have you changed as a fighter in this time? What do you think you have improved?
DA – I’m always improving. There’s no such thing as being a perfect boxer. I’ve grown as a man and boxer, physically and mentally, and know what I need to do to stay on top.
AW – If we can look at THE RING magazine ratings at junior middleweight, could you share your thoughts on your weight classÔÇª
C – Floyd Mayweather Jr. – On his way to being the greatest of all time.
1 – Saul Alvarez – A typical Mexican fighter who hits but gets hit.
2 – Austin Trout – His limited ability can get him only so far. He’s going to be a gatekeeper.
3 – Erislandy Lara – He’s good but his skills will only take him so far.
4 – Miguel Cotto – I’m concentrating on my Nov. 9 fight, but after that I want to fight Cotto. He’s only a few steps down from Mayweather. He’s a tough, solid fighter who people still enjoy watching fight. Trout beat him but I feel that I can stop him.
5 – Vanes Martirosyan – I really didn’t pay much attention to him to him until now. He’s a 33-0-1 fighter who has fought a lot of terrible opponents and pulled out of fights. I’m not worried about him. He doesn’t do anything better than me.
6 – Carlos Molina – I called him out four years ago but he didn’t want any part of me. I thought he beat Lara. He’s shown that he can pull off upsets but he’s another gatekeeper.
7 – Zaurbek Baysangurov – He pulls out of fights when the challenge is too tough.
8 – Demetrius Andrade – Whoa! This guy’s on his way up. Very dangerous and getting better and better.
9 – Willie Nelson – A cool guy who was my teammate in the amateurs. Tall with a very long reach.
10 – Ishe Smith – I wanted to fight him after he won the world title (IBF), but he took the easy way out, and lost to Molina.
AW – Away from boxing tell us about yourself, what do you enjoy doing?
DA – I like to bowl and do outdoor activities like four-wheeling and going to the gun range. I like to have fun and enjoy spending time with my family watching movies.
AW – Do you have a message for Vanes ahead of your fight?
DA – What you don’t know about me is going to hurt him. Nobody has seen what I’m bringing Nov. 9 because nobody has brought the best out of me, yet. I’ve been winning with my basic boxing skills but this fight will be different because it’s for the world title. When I start hitting you, you’re going to know I’m not Joe Greene, who gave you a tough fight, or the last guy you fought (Ryan Davis).
Photos: Tom Casino-Showtime; Jacques Demarthon-AFP/Getty Images