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  • Boxing best bets: Andrade vs. Sulecki 🥊

    Boxing best bets: Andrade vs. Sulecki

    ESPN PLUS ($ MATERIAL)



    The top of Saturday's bill in Providence, Rhode Island, is an intriguing matchup in which we have Demetrius "Boo Boo" Andrade, the unbeaten two-weight WBO champ enjoying hometown advantage, against mandatory challenger Maciej Sulecki, who hails from Warsaw, Poland.

    The 30-year-old Sulecki (28-1, 11 KOs), is one of the rare WBO No. 1 contenders who actually deserves his ranking. His only defeat in his nine-year pro career is a points loss 14 months ago against former middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs. Sulecki gave Jacobs a good workout and showed plenty of skill and guile. Although suffering a knockdown in the 12th round, Sulecki exhibited plenty of bravery in getting up and riding out the storm to see the final bell.

    The only other time Sulecki hit the deck was in his prior outing in March against Gabriel Rosado in an entertaining and drama-filled scrap. I knew at the time that Rosado had trained really hard for the fight, and he gave it everything he had. But Sulecki had built up a huge lead before Rosado had Sulecki down twice at the end of the ninth and was perhaps saved by the bell. Sulecki had to hold in Round 10, but he had such a big lead it was all he had to do to claim a fully deserved win, which has earned him this chance. He is a very neat and tidy fighter, employs a good jab and likes to throw combinations. A distinct lack of power means more often than not that he has to win the hard way -- which is going the distance.



    At a year older, Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs) is making the second defense of his WBO middleweight belt, which he first won in November by beating substitute Walter Kautondokwa widely on points for the title that was vacated by Billy Joe Saunders. The Englishman was forced to vacate due to a short suspension for an abnormal drug test result. We might never find out who would have won between Andrade and Saunders, which is a huge loss to fight fans worldwide, as it would have been an excellent bout between two very slick stylists.

    In addition to Boo Boo's slick style is the southpaw stance, which makes him an awkward prospect for any challenger. One criticism about his record, however, is that he has not had any real big fights. Is his management team employing a low-risk attitude to matching its charge? It almost mirrors how Andrade fights, which also is low risk. He has pretty much boxed all 60 rounds possible in his past five fights, not losing many of those rounds and recording two final-round stoppage victories. To me, he goes for the finish only when he has his opponent at his mercy, and until that point, he is very happy to bamboozle and outfox his opponent with his skills, great feet and superior hand speed.

    All this seems to be pointing in one direction, and as far as I am concerned, it is the correct one. Andrade will be very happy to outbox Sulecki, cleverly picking his punches and racking up the rounds. Sulecki will try, but he will find out that catching Boo Boo with anything will be more difficult than it was with the more firm-footed Jacobs. Is there a chance of an upset? Only if Andrade has taken this way too lightly. And for someone who doesn't seem to take huge risks, I find that outcome very unlikely.

    Pick: Andrade at -225 and OVER on rounds (8.5, 9.5 or 10.5 rounds)
    What the industry insiders/experts are saying

    "Andrade is a very smart, complete fighter, and I expect him to win by decision or possibly late KO."

    -- Orlando Canizales, former IBF bantamweight champion and International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee

    "Andrade by decision, in a very mundane fight. You want something more exciting? Watch your grandmother knit."

    -- Rick Glaser, international boxing agent, broker and consultant

    "Boo Boo is one of the most underrated fighters in boxing. I want to see him against the best fighters around. Sulecki isn't an easy fight though. I hope the best for either guy. Boo Boo by decision, maybe a late KO."

    -- Montell Griffin, former WBC light-heavyweight champion
    WBA junior bantamweight title fight

    The chief support is an excellent opportunity to make fast money. England's former Olympian, unbeaten Khalid "Kal" Yafai (25-0, 15 KOs) makes his fifth defense of his WBA super-flyweight title against challenger Norbelto Jimenez (29-8-4, 16 KOs) of the Dominican Republic. Yafai is a strong fighter at the weight and carries pretty decent power. He has had to go the distance in four of his past five outings, yet they have all been title fights against solid opposition, most notably the unbeaten Sho Ishida. Yafai is a fighter who has gone under the radar a little of late, and this is an excellent opportunity for him to show what he can do on a major TV card. At 30 years old, he needs to be moving on with his career and seeking bigger opponents and bigger paydays.



    So where do I start with Jimenez? All of his fights except one have taken place in his home country. The one away fight came in Japan, where he drew with Kohei Kono, who had more losses on his ledger than Jimenez. There was not much available footage for me to see, but I did see all of his previous fight against Renson Robles, whom Jimenez had beaten a few years earlier. It wasn't good showing for fans of the Dominican. Jimenez looked awful. He looked much older than his 28 years suggest, appeared very slow, was very open when delivering combinations and was staggered by punches that hadn't really connected. Somehow or another he got the decision, however, and now he travels away from home for only the second time to face a champion who has been operating at two levels higher. This fight can only end one way, and I believe it could be an early one, with Yafai emerging victorious after using his greater experience and superior speed and skills to register a fairly early stoppage.

    Pick: UNDER on rounds (9.5, 8.5, 7.5 or even 6.5)

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