Demetrius Andrade will make the first defense of his WBO World Middleweight against Artur Akavov on a bumper show at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York on Friday January 18, live on DAZN in the US and Sky Sports in the UK.
Andrade (26-0 16KOs) claimed the title in October to become a two-weight World champion, flooring Walter Kautondokwa four times as he comfortably outpointed the tough number African in Boston to land the title. The unbeaten Rhode Island ace had been out of the ring for a year as he boxed in the Massachusetts capital, and ‘Boo Boo’ now wants to become an active champ as he targets unification battles in 2019.
Akavov (19-2 8KOs) will be confident of ripping up those plans as he challenges for the title for the second time, having pushed former champion Billy Joe Saunders all the way in Glasgow in December 2016, being narrowly edged out by the Londoner. The Russian landed the WBO International title in his last outing in May in Latvia, a win that saw him climb to #8 in the rankings with the WBO and move into position to rip the crown from the 32 year old in the Big Apple.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity,” said Andrade. “Fighting at Madison Square Garden, where so many great fighters have fought is a true honor, and something I have dreamt about my entire life.
“People might not know much about Akavov, but this is a guy who went overseas and gave Billy Joe Saunders absolute hell. Most people thought that he should have won the fight. This is an optional defense, so I could have fought anyone I wanted, but we chose to fight a guy that we know is going to bring it all night long and a guy who in many people’s eyes beat Saunders.
“I know that I have an extremely tough task in front of me, but that’s what this game is all about. I want all the top guys, all the belts and with Eddie Hearn and DAZN behind me and continuing to give me these opportunities to showcase my talent to the world, the other champions can’t hide for long. This is my time and January 18 is another step in that direction.”
“After the fight with Saunders, I was hoping for a rematch because that fight left a lot of unanswered questions,” said Akavov. “I believe that Andrade is a better fighter than Saunders and this is my chance to answer those questions. I understand the weight of the responsibility that is on my shoulders and will give it 100 percent.”