Demetrius Andrade wants Erislandy Lara, greater activity
Demetrius Andrade and his team were in search mode, wandering the warrens of Friedrich-Ebert-Halle, in Ludwigshafen, Germany, looking for someplace to accommodate them. Andrade’s team wasn’t intentionally inconvenienced, they felt, but their closet-of-a-dressing-room seemed to hint of a slight in preparing to fight fellow 154-pound contender (and amateur rival) Jack Culcay, an Ecuadorian who calls Germany home, last month.
Andrade needed an area to stretch and build up a sweat, to move, and jump, and wring out the knots. He had nothing to work with. His pre-fight quarters were so congested he could barely shift his feet. Before a fight, Andrade normally stays away from pork but that seemed the only edible thing around him. He was looking for Gatorade, an international brand, to replenish his body but couldn’t find it anywhere.
And wouldn’t you know it, the first punch Andrade threw at Culcay (22-2, 11 knockouts), holder of the WBA’s “regular” title, his legs cramped. He couldn’t move. His feet were stuck in sand. It was the most adverse situation Andrade had ever been faced with as a pro, he told RingTV.com, yet he won by split-decision to capture his first major belt in three years. [Editor’s note: THE RING recognizes Erislandy Lara as the WBA 154-pound titleholder.]
“It’s what a true champion should be able to do,” Andrade said. “I stayed calm. I kept thinking I’m the one that has to determine this, no one else.”
It was an experience Andrade (24-0, 16 KOs) will never forget. Now it’s time for Andrade, the former WBO beltholder who has fought only once a year since 2014, to grab this momentum and move forward.
The pieces are certainly there. He adjusted in a title fight in Germany, where his body was locking up on him during the course of the fight, not to mention all of the tiny nuisances that kept nipping at him prior to getting in the ring.
The 154-pound division is one the deepest in boxing, featuring WBC titleholder Jermell Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs), Lara (24-2-2, 14 KOs), the WBA’s “super champion,” and the aging, though still formidable (and certainly marketable) Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs).
Andrade, currently ranked No. 5 by THE RING, feels he’s in that grouping. That attitude is derived from a greater sense of himself, that there is no situation he can’t adapt to after winning as the “visiting fighter.”
“There are a lot of fighters out there who are well known, like when Lara fought Paul Williams, everyone thought Lara won and they gave the fight to Paul Williams,” he said. “When Danny Garcia fought (Mauricio) Herrera (in 2014 in Puerto Rico), everyone knows that Herrera won that fight. In my case, it’s totally different, because I wanted to make sure the decision went my way and I wasn’t going to take that chance in Germany.
“The Culcay training camp was really good, other than leaving too late and having problems with the hour difference. I’m staying at 154 and my body feels good at 154. I came into the ring at 153½ against Culcay, and how much I weighed that night is nobody’s business. I wish I was 200 pounds that night, but my legs felt like they weighed 200 pounds. I was definitely in the mud. I’m back in the gym now.”
And there are invaluable lessons he took home to Providence, Rhode Island with him.
“One thing I definitely learned is if I fight overseas again, I have to give myself more time to adapt, because I felt tired the whole time I was there,” Andrade said. “My personal clock was off. I would get up around 12 p.m. or 1 p.m. to do a media press conference to promote the fight, but it always seemed later to me. Not to take anything away from Jack Culcay, he was the best he could be, but I was definitely not on my A-game. I did put out my best though.
“The time zone bothered me, because I was cramping during the fight. I couldn’t really move. I depend on my legs to win, and I was there in this discomfort when someone was trying to take my head off. My calves bothered me the most. All I had was my upper body. I just jumped in and fought him, and it’s a fight no one wants to see again. There isn’t a reason for a rematch.”
That may hopefully open the door to fight Lara, Andrade’s goal by the summer. He wants three fights before the end of the year – and that belt around Lara’s waist.
“I don’t like to do this, because I hear all of these other fighters put these names out like they want to fight Andrade, they want to fight Canelo (Alvarez), they want to fight GGG (Gennady Golovkin),” Andrade said. “When I say I want to fight someone, I want to fight someone. Let’s make a deal and let’s fight.
“My next opponent is Lara. I can’t pronounce his first name, whatever it is, but I want to fight that Cuban fighter next. This is a fight that can be made in July. He has no fight scheduled. I have no fights scheduled. He has the WBA super champ belt, I have the regular WBA belt. No one wants to see him fight because he’s boring, but I’ll make that fight exciting. Me and Lara, it’s the best 154-pound fight this year. That fight has to be made.”