By Robert Aaron Contreras
On Saturday, middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17 KO) wanted to put on a show on for his hometown faithful as he knocked down Sulecki (28-2, 11 KO) in the first round, setting the tone early for what would be a shutout unanimous-decision victory at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Andrade’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island.
Andrade, fighting in his own backyard for the first time in his 28-fight career, was firing from his hip like never before against Sulecki, who stood his ground. But Andrade, with heavier punches and supreme ring generalship, picked up every round, winning 120-107 across the board.
“Sulecki came forward the whole night and allowed me to use my tools,” Andrade said in ring after the fight before claiming to have carried Sulecki in hopes of securing a fight with the the other middleweight elite. “I gave people another great 12 rounds of boxing. Sulecki ain’t no pushover… He ain’t no Steve Rolls, ain’t no Rocky Fielding so Canelo [Alvarez] where are your cajones at—let’s get it. There is no more Top 10 guys anymore, I keep beating them. Where’s Canelo? Where’s Golovkin?”
“Forget the WBC shit, whatever that ‘franchise’ belt is. Canelo, let’s go. Let’s unify this division—let’s have one champion.”
The first two rounds saw Andrade more aggressive than ever. The defending champion opened the contest from a crouched position—at times nearly sitting on his heels—and exploding into offense. He pitched volley after volley of overhand lefts.
Taking time to send one or two to the midsection of Sulecki, changing the visiting fighter’s eye level, it wasn’t long before a couple of the winging punches ricocheted off the very top of the challenger’s forehead.
Sulecki was felled onto the seat of his pants within the first 60 seconds. Already at a disadvantage, Sulecki in the second frame attempted to match Andrade’s feints but was quickly overcome with more looping blows, while unable to land cleanly on the mobile champion.
Andrade, 31, didn’t bother throwing a real jab until the fourth stanza. His dynamic, occasionally wild, slugging attack was keeping the 30-year-old Sulecki at bay and the partisan crowd on their toes.
The action cooled in the middle stages. Andrade began relying on constant shifts, continually moving out and away from Sulecki’s right hand. The American would simultaneously swing his back foot around, avoiding Sulecki’s path, and slap his man with a right hand: then a left hook: another right, followed up with yet more stinging left hands. An overwhelming attack.
Andrade was just showing off in Round 7, crouching and sitting so low on his punches, the challenger landed sparingly as his target sank below even his waistline. Otherwise, Andrade was potshotting his way to victory with relative ease. He even dropped his hands, and navigating the roving area around Sulecki, springing in for jolting southpaw jabs and flinging left hands.
The championship rounds were more of the same. The closing minute saw Andrade dancing and shimmying, interchanging his shuffling feet with winging punches, as if mimicking the stylized methodology of Emmanuel Augustus. There were no more knockdowns, few moments of tension, and another easy win (albeit over a quality opponent) for Andrade.
According to punch statistics, Andrade landed 133 of 496 total punches (27 percent) of which 94 were power punches. Sulecki connected on 51 of 331 (15 percent), just 36 were power punches.
It was Andrade’s second title defense since lifting the WBO strap at the end of 2018, making for three wins over just the last eight months. All on DAZN, he is hoping that is enough to lure Canelo out of a superfight with Sergey Kovalev and instead into a 160-pound unification.
Joseph Parker, Khal Yafai take care of business in chief-support
Parker (26-2, 20 KO) and Yafai both needed impressive outings in Rhode Island. But each man seemed to fall short.
First, in a tenth-round knockout over former championship contender Alex Leapai (32-8-4, 26 KO), Parker looked discouraged after more resistance than expected from a washed heavyweight who will turn 40 in a few months.
“I haven’t been in the ring for half a year, I got more rounds than I expected. But damn he has a hard head,” Parker said, with Eddie Hearn standing next to him. “I’m very exciting about my deal with Matchroom [Promotions].”
The fight was still Parker’s from the beginning. The first round was him at his best: masking body punches with flairs upstairs, gently swiping his opponent’s guard and spiking Leapai’s gut with sharp punches. But by the second period, those punches were veering just too low for referee Ricky Gonzalez’s liking and Parker was warned twice.
Parker was back on the offensive over the next two rounds. Leapai found some success walking Parker down for moments in the third round and the first part of the sixth stanza. But the younger man’s jab saved the day, drilling the shot into Leapai’s head and body in Round 7.
Leapai’s nose was leaking by the eighth but Parker let him off the hook. Save for some right crosses, with Leapai missing wildly with overhands, the former champion hardly engaged in that round and the ninth. Alas, two minutes into the fateful tenth, Parker sent a right hand between Leapai’s gloves that made him stumble backwards. And moments later, a big right softened his knees and a follow-up uppercut was all referee Gonzalez wanted to see, waving the fight off.
When asked about his plans amid the new heavyweight landscape, Parker had a few names on his mind.
“I want to avenge the losses I have: Dillian Whyte and Anthony Joshua. Then I want to fight Andy Ruiz again. He thought he won. I won, that’s what’s in the record books.”
Tucked away under heavyweights despite being a title fight, Yafai, 30, turned away a brash challenger in Alberto Jimenez on scores of 117-109, 119-107, and 118-108. It was no surprise to see all three judges behind the defending champion. But referee Danny Schiavone was on his side too.
The first half of the 12-rounder included a point deduction from Jimenez for holding and Yafai ignoring a call to break from the referee, instead opting to deliver brutal punches to the challenger’s groin. The heinous shots at least opened up the action between the two and the second half of Round 5 was worth the price of admission—antithetical to the boxing lesson the defending champion orchestrated over the first four rounds.
In the seventh period, Jimenez was able to carve up Yafai’s guard. As well as nearly the entirety of the eighth frame. That is until Yafai killed all his momentum with more blows below the belt. And with Jimenez on all fours, referee Schiavone for some reason rushed him to his feet. He should’ve allowed Jimenez at least five minutes to collect himself.
It was all for not. Yafai went back to pelting at his man. The Dominican was complacent to jog off the clock, just like his first title opportunity back in 2014, biding his time far too long. And in the 12th round, the referee was back in the center of attention when he called a knockdown for Yafai. Yet replays revealed more of a cuff and push from the champion that simply threw Jimenez off balance.
Victorious, Yafai has now defended his belt five times, the most of any United Kingdom representative in boxing today.