A natural disaster is now the latest entry in the list of circumstances to prevent a Demetrius Andrade purse bid from moving forward.
The WBO has called for a delay in the purse bid proceedings to determine promotional rights for a sanctioned interim super middleweight title fight between Providence’s Andrade and England’s Zach Parker. The session was due to take place Tuesday at WBO headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico but had to be rescheduled due to the lingering effects of Hurricane Fiona which has caused flooding and power outages throughout the island.
The purse bid was originally rescheduled for next Tuesday, September 27 but will now take place on Thursday via Zoom. The minimum accepted bid is $300,000, should the session not experience any more delays.
Andrade (31-0, 19KOs) has been out of the ring since last November. The now former two-division titlist has spent all of 2022 wading through purse bid delays and also recovering from shoulder surgery which delayed his one scheduled fight this year. He was due to face Parker (22-0, 16KOs) on May 21 in Parker’s hometown of Derby, England, only to suffer an injury which ultimately canceled the event.
Queensberry Promotions previously secured the fight with an offer of $1,834,050 during a February 25 purse bid hearing, outpacing Matchroom Boxing ($1,750,000) who still had ties to Andrade at the time. The fight was approved by the WBO in lieu of Andrade defending his middleweight title against mandatory challenger Janibek Alimkhanuly.
Interestingly, both interim title fights were scheduled to take place on May 21 on two separate continents. Alimkhanuly (12-0, 8KOs) went through with his fight, tearing through Danny Dignum inside of two rounds to win the interim middleweight belt on an ESPN show from Las Vegas. Andrade pulled up lame, withdrawing from the fight with Parker after experiencing a shoulder injury earlier in the month. The 34-year-old southpaw was then instructed to revisit plans for a WBO middleweight title consolidation clash with interim titlist Janibek Alimkahanuly (12-0, 8KOs), a mandatory title defense for which he sought an exception to instead face Parker.
Andrade—who has since parted ways with Matchroom—was ordered to secure the fight with Alimkhanuly by November to avoid being stripped. When it was clear that a deal would not be reached, the WBO called for a purse bid hearing which was canceled upon Andrade relinquishing his WBO middleweight title to instead campaign at super middleweight.
The cancellation of the Andrade-Alimkhanuly purse bid at least put an immediate end to the process. The previously ordered title fight saw three separate purse bid postponements—twice due to granted extensions and once due to the WBO having temporarily close its office due to a staff member testing positive for Covid.
The path to securing a fight with Parker (22-0, 16KOs) has been just as messy.
Andrade and Matchroom initially floated the proposal to the WBO shortly after the sanctioning body ordered Andrade-Alimkhanuly last November 30. The sanctioning was willing to consider the interim super middleweight title fight since its full title claimant, undisputed WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO champ Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (57-2-2, 39KOs) was exploring fights outside the weight for his yet-to-be-announced next fight.
Too much time had elapsed, prompting the WBO to call for a purse bid hearing to determine promotional rights for the ordered middleweight title fight. The session was delayed several times, often enough for Andrade-Parker to be put back into play. The concessions made by Andrade were enough to convince the WBO to bless the interim super middleweight title fight, along with ordering a similar fight at middleweight.
Parker has held the number-one spot in the WBO super middleweight rankings since November 2020, only after Alvarez committed to a fight with Callum Smith for the WBA “Super” and vacant WBC title. Alvarez was permitted to jump the line as a WBO Super champion, despite Parker having previously won a sanctioned title eliminator in a March 2020 11th round knockout of Rohan Murdock.
Parker has since won three fights, including a fourth-round stoppage of Marcus Morrison last November 6 in Birmingham, England. The win came less than two weeks prior to Andrade’s fifth and most recent WBO middleweight title defense, a second-round knockout of Ireland’s Jason Quigley last November 19 in Manchester, New Hampshire. The 27-year-old Brit will now have a regional advantage for the biggest fight of his career to date, thanks to his promoter stepping up when it mattered the most.
Andrade made six successful defenses of the WBO middleweight title which he claimed in an October 2018 vacant title fight win over Walter Kautondokwa. The run followed two separate junior middleweight title reigns, both beginning with wins in vacant title fights. The 2008 U.S. Olympian and former two-division titlist has yet to face and beat a former or current primary titleholder through 14 years as a pro.
Hurricane Fiona is the first of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, having increased to Category 3 status as it continues to travel through the Carribean. It struck Puerto Rico on September 18, with its massive rainfall causing flash flooding and major power outages throughout the island.
The disaster comes on the five-year anniversary of the horrific damage left behind by the far more destructive Hurricane Maria, though the latest round was enough for U.S. President Joe Biden to declare a state of emergency and has already ordered Federal assistance “to supplement Commonwealth and local response efforts due to the emergency conditions resulting from [Hurricane] Fiona.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox