It has been a rocky road back to title contention since Demetrius Andrade (22-0, 15 KOs) was stripped of his WBO super welterweight title last summer. He had fought a total of only 10 rounds since his 2013 title fight against Vanes Martirosyan. But there was a lot on the line tonight as he faced Willie Nelson (25-2-1, 15 KOs) in a title eliminator for the WBC title currently held by Jermell Charlo.
Andrade came out fast; effectively mixing jabs and punches to the body.
One would think that Nelson's height advantage would keep him boxing on the outside, but he chose to fight with Andrade at a close distance smothering his own punches early on. That plan was detrimental to Nelson in round 1 when Andrade staggered Nelson with a straight left, followed up with a combination that culminated in a right hook that sent Nelson to the canvas.
Nelson regained his composure after the knockdown. However, there was very little output from him, as he seemed to be trying to figure out a method of attack against the former champ. Andrade continued to impressively pound the body of Nelson.
In round 3 Nelson finally provided some effective offense, landing a thunderous uppercut on the inside that stunned Andrade. That spurt of offense was only temporary and did not sustain as Andrade regained his composure and went back to ripping combinations against Nelson who had no answer but to hold a high-guard defense.
More of the same was seen from Andrade over the middle rounds as Andrade utilized ring generalship to keep Nelson from getting set and letting his hands go. Although Nelson was the bigger man, when in close quarters Andrade seemed to be the stronger of the two. He bullied Nelson against the ropes and during clenches. And when on the outside, Andrade controlled distance with thudding combinations.
In the championship rounds, Willie Nelson continued to take more punishment from Andrade, being knocked down again by a right hook with one-second left on the clock in round 11. Andrade closed the show in round 12; finishing Nelson with two more knockdowns before a referee stoppage, off the same right hook that put Nelson on the mat in earlier rounds.
Andrade showed that ring rust was no factor, being the first man to ever stop Willie Nelson. He improves his record to 23-0 with 16 KOs. In his post-fight interview Andrade stated, "I'm ready for the Charlo boys baby! I want 'em!". That is an opportunity that Andrade will have to be patient for. Although the contested bout was a title eliminator, Andrade must await the winner of the mandatory fight between champion Jermell Charlo and Charles Hatley that has yet to be scheduled.