Two more delays have come in the latest efforts to move forward in the ordered WBO middleweight title fight between Demetrius Andrade and Janibek Alimkhanuly.
A purse bid hearing scheduled for Thursday was originally postponed by three hours before being canceled prior to the rescheduled afternoon hearing. A Covid-related development forced the Puerto Rico-based sanctioning body to push back the session to January 28.
“The current COVID-19 situation in Puerto Rico has forced the purse bid for 160 lb. Champion Demetrius Andrade's mandatory defense against Janibek Alimkhanuly to be rescheduled once again,” the sanctioning body announced Thursday. “It will now be held Friday, January 28th at 11:00 am at the WBO main offices in San Juan.”
The alert came just two hours after the announcement of pushing back today’s hearing from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. local time.
The unfortunate development gives the pair of unbeaten middleweights another eight days to either come to terms or figure out a contingency plan that brings satisfaction to all involved parties. Andrade (31-0, 19KOs) was previously exploring the possibility of an interim WBO super middleweight title fight with 168-pound mandatory challenger Zach Parker, only for too much time to elapse without a deal in place.
England’s Parker (22-0, 16KOs)—the current number-one contender for the WBO super middleweight title held by undisputed champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (57-1-2, 39KOs)—continues to call out Andrade, though the matter could well be out of their hands. The WBO set a deadline for those two camps to reach terms to consider granting an exception to Andrade’s current sanctioning body commitment to next facing Kazakhstan’s Alimkhanuly (11-0, 7KOs).
Three separate delays could either help revive talks for Andrade-Parker, or allow the middleweight title fight to get resolved without being subject to a purse bid hearing.
Andrade-Alimkhanuly was formally ordered November 30, shortly after both participants scored knockout wins one day apart. Andrade—a two-division and reigning WBO middleweight titlist—is represented in talks by Matchroom Sport chairman Eddie Hearn, while Top Rank and manager Egis Klimas are negotiating on behalf of Alimkhanuly.
Andrade registered the fifth defense of his WBO middleweight title with a second-round knockout of Ireland’s Jason Quigley in a DAZN-streamed main event last November 19 at SNHU Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire. After the fight, the Providence-bred southpaw, who was fighting less than an hour from his hometown, called for bigger fights. Singled out were unbeaten former WBO junior middleweight titlist Jaime Munguia (38-0, 30KOs) and IBF titlist Gennadiy Golovkin (41-1-1, 36KOs), both of whom also fight on DAZN.
Golovkin remains locked into a title unification clash with WBA claimant Ryota Murata, awaiting a new date as their planned December 29 clash was canceled due to Covid-related travel restriction for visitors entering Japan. Munguia was previously the mandatory challenger for Andrade’s title but has instead taken a stay-busy fight versus unbeaten middleweight D’Mitrius Ballard (21-0-1, 13KOs), set for February 19 in his hometown of Tijuana.
That left the sanctioning body to declare Alimkhanuly as its mandatory. The unbeaten middleweight did his part to keep his place in line, stopping former secondary titlist Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam in the eighth round of their preliminary bout on a November 20 ESPN+ Pay-Per-View show at Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas. The win came five months after battering former secondary titleholder Rob Brant also in eight rounds last June.
Andrade and Alimkhanuly were given until December 20 to work out a deal, only for that period to lapse without the two sides coming to terms. A purse bid hearing was called during the year-end holiday season, though there was still time for an eleventh-hour deal to avoid that route.
Andrade instead sought the option of campaigning in his third weight division. A proposal was floated to the WBO to allow Andrade and Parker (22-0. 16KOs) to fight for the interim super middleweight title while undisputed WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO/lineal champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (57-1-2, 39KOs) explored his next move.
Parker has been waiting on a title shot since the pandemic, having advanced to the top contender spot following an eleventh-round stoppage of Rohan Murdock in March 2020. The 27-year-old Brit—who is managed by Neil Marsh and fights under Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions banner—has since fought three times, most recently in a fourth-round stoppage of Marcus Morrison last November in Birmingham, England.
Should the WBO still permit Parker to challenge for an interim super middleweight title, it will have to come against another opponent. Andrade is locked into other plans, barring his vacating the WBO middleweight belt.
The rescheduled purse bid hearing—should this matter go that far—will be open to all WBO-registered promoters. The minimum accepted bid is $200,000 for the fight, with Andrade to receive 75% of the winning bid as the defending titlist. The remaining 25% will go to Alimkhanuly as the mandatory challenger.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox