When two great fighters have been avoided by top opponents for so long, it inevitably makes sense for them to fight one another in order to get to the top.
That's the working theory being undertaken by former two-division champion Demetrius Andrade (32-0, 19 KOs), who has spent most of his career doing the unfruitful chasing of big names like Canelo Alvarez, Gennadiy Golovkin and Jermall Charlo.
Andrade, 35, will finally get his shot at the super elite, and potential recognition among the pound-for-pound best in the sport, when he faces former two-time super middleweight titleholder David Benavidez (27-0, 23 KOs) on Saturday in a 168-pound clash at the Michelob Ultra Arena at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (Showtime PPV, 8 p.m. ET).
"Fighters don't want to fight but I'm glad David has nowhere to go," Andrade told CBS Sports last month. "It only makes sense to fight me."
Fresh off a resounding decision win over former champion Caleb Plant in their March PPV clash, the 26-year-old Benavidez, who was born in Arizona to parents of Mexican and Ecuadorian descent, has seemingly been hand-picked by boxing's foundational Mexican-American fan base as the eventual successor to Alvarez.
Benavidez, like Andrade, is hoping a breakthrough victory against such a tricky opponent will be the final rung on the ladder that needs to be climbed before finally getting the call to challenge Alvarez for his four-pack of world titles in the division.
"To be honest, I don't know what that man is doing," Benavidez told "Morning Kombat" last month when asked about Alvarez. "I feel like every time I say something, people say that I'm just looking for a payday. I have been the mandatory fighter for the past two years. I won the title eliminator first and then the WBC interim, which guarantees you a spot. So, the fact that the fight hasn't happened is really crazy to me.
"This man is just making it worse for himself because I am gaining so much experience. I'm getting very comfortable and I'm not going nowhere. As soon as I get in the ring with Canelo, all of those belts will come to me."
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Don't let the ambitious hopes of both fighters and their collective lust for one day sharing the ring with boxing's biggest star as a means to suggest they are overlooking one another.
Benavidez may have previously been his own biggest enemy throughout a career that saw him become the youngest champion at 20 in divisional history back in 2017 only for him to twice be stripped of his WBC title (once for a failed drug test for cocaine and a second time mid-pandemic for missing weight). But the maturity he has shown in recent years has been noteworthy, as was the performance he put together against Plant where Benavidez entered in top physical shape and simply wore his smaller opponent out over 12 rounds.
"I'm trying to prove to the world that I'm the best super middleweight on this planet," Benavidez said. "I'm going to definitely show that because I have had a tremendous training camp. I have been working for three months already and have been getting some great rounds of sparring. And this is the final Showtime [pay-per-view] so we have to go out with a bang.
"These are the type of fights that interest me because Demetrius Andrade is a great fighter, no doubt about that. But I get to test my heart and test my spirit in front of everybody. I know that when people make me reach deep down, the best of myself comes out. So, we are looking forward to this."
What makes this matchup so interesting is that Andrade, a 2008 U.S. Olympian from Rhode Island, is the kind of Swiss army knife boxer whose colorful personality has never been able to offset the fact that opponents have always looked at him as high risk and low reward.
Andrade is a lengthy southpaw who relies on speed and guile to awkwardly navigate the center of the ring without paying for the real estate thanks to his elite defensive skills. But to try and suggest this fight has been a long-time coming for Andrade would be an insult to just how difficult his professional journey has been as it relates to trying to attract big-name opponents.
Although Andrade has looked great earning respectable wins at 154 and 160 pounds against the likes of Vanes Martirosyan, Brian Rose, Willie Nelson, Jack Culcay and Maciej Sulecki, the big names have routinely avoided him. Throughout the process, Andrade has also found himself perpetually stuck in promotional Siberia and admits to having considered walking away multiple times due to frustration.
All of that appeared to change upon his signing with top advisor Al Haymon's Premier Boxing Champions in late 2022. What followed was a wide decision win over Demond Nicholson in his super middleweight debut in January, on the undercard of the Gervonta Davis-Hector Luis Garcia PPV card, which set up an opportunity to face Benavidez once it was clear Alvarez wouldn't be part of his 2023 plans.
"People have avoided me and have not wanted to fight [but] if you put the very best in front of me, I'm going to be the very best and I'm going to elevate," Andrade said. "That's just what it is." I did throw my hands up at one point because of the situation that I was in. Clearly, it was not working out and there needed to be a separation here and a divorce. That has been pretty much what I have had to do in order to be in this position where I am today.
"This is more in my hands now. There are no obligations to a manager or a promoter. I do have a solid team that I trust and work with but nothing is on paper. Free at last, free at last. Thank ole, almighty God that I am free at last."
Andrade might be more well known for his ability to hit and not get hit but that hasn't stopped him from declaring his willingness to defeat Benavidez under any means possible, even if that leads him to stand in front of Benavidez and trade.
It's a prospect that Benavidez would prefer, of course, although he is well prepared to do the chasing if he has to, similar to how he broke down Plant eight months ago.
"If he is going to give me a war then I'm looking forward to it because I'm a warrior and I can't wait to go in there," Benavidez said. "The way I go into every fight is to think that every opponent is going to be the best that they can be. He's a slick boxer so I am expecting him to be at his best but this is what I have done for a long time. I love figuring guys out and I have hurt everyone that I have been in the ring with.
"I am the smarter fighter and I am the faster and hungrier fighter."
Andrade said he doesn't expect Benavidez to be anything but in the best shape of his career this weekend but wants to make one thing clear to critics and/or oddsmakers, including those who have installed him as a 3-1 underdog: He is not Caleb Plant.
"Listen, people definitely get up for Michael Jordan, you know? So, I would assume [Benavidez] would get up to fight myself," Andrade said. "But I'm not Caleb Plant, in no way, shape or form. There are sayings out there that we fight a like because we both box but we do not fight alike. I get to put all of my own questions out there and get my answers, as well. It will be my time to get up there and let the A game of Demetrius Andrade come out. I haven't been able to bring that out [in a while]. This will be two cats fighting each other rather than one cat fighting a mouse."
The other fight of note on Saturday marks the return of WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo when he takes on Jose Benavidez Jr., the older brother of David Benavidez. Charlo has been out of action since June 2021 as he has dealt with out-of-ring issues with his family and his own mental health. Now, he looks to knock off the ring rust when he takes on Benavidez Jr. in a 10-round non-title bout. Benavidez Jr. picked up his first win in five years in August.
Let's take a closer look at the rest of the undercard before getting to a prediction and expert pick on the main event.
Benavidez vs. Andrade fight card, odds
- David Benavidez -440 vs. Demetrius Andrade +335, super middleweight
- Jermall Charlo -700 vs. Jose Benavidez Jr. +500, middleweight
- Subriel Matias -350 vs. Shohjahon Ergashev +275, super lightweight
- Hector Luis Garcia -290 vs. Lamont Roach +235, super featherweight
Benavidez vs. Andrade info
- Date: Nov. 25
- Location: Michelob Ultra Arena -- Las Vegas
- Start time: 9 p.m. ET
- How to watch: Showtime PPV ($74.99)
Those who have followed Andrade's career close enough will realize that he does have the skill set to pull off the upset. The biggest questions surround whether he can take the kind of pounding that Benavidez's downhill style unleashes, especially in the second half when "The Mexican Monster" seems to only get stronger.
One of the most underrated aspects of Benavidez's game is how deft he can be blocking or avoiding counter fire while operating at close range and trading punches. While most would expect Andrade to rely on his footwork in the first half, he will need to be certain that he's banking enough rounds before Benavidez's inevitable mid-fight adjustment kicks in and his pressure increases.
Andrade's power is more of the accumulative kind over the course of rounds and not of the one-punch variety, which will make it difficult to dissuade Benavidez from coming forward. And that's the key to potentially bringing an edge with you to the ring against him because Benavidez's style is so fan and judge friendly as a come-forward attacker that it's difficult to bank close rounds against him because he's not only typically the busier fighter, he's also the one landing the majority of the power shots.
If Andrade can't hurt Benavidez or confuse him so thoroughly that it forces him away from his game plan, the best he can hope for is a moral victory of going the distance as Benavidez takes one massive step closer to the Alvarez bout which will likely define his pro career.
Pick: Benavidez via UD12