Demetrius Andrade and Liam Williams are finally set to take their rivalry to the ring.
Terms have been reached for Providence’s Andrade to defend his WBO middleweight title versus Wales’ Williams, thus avoiding a purse bid hearing which was scheduled for Wednesday in Cardiff, Wales.
“Pleased to announce terms have been agreed for Demetrius Andrade to face Liam Williams for the WBO World title in the USA,” Eddie Hearn, Andrade’s promoter confirmed via social media on Wednesday. “Full details coming soon!”
Andrade (29-0, 18KOs) will attempt the fourth defense of the title he has held since Oct. 2018. The unbeaten southpaw has not fought since a 9th round knockout of Ireland’s Luke Keeler (17-3-1) last January in Miami, Florida. Weeks after the mandatory defense came the call for another, as the WBO ordered for Andrade and Williams to begin negotiating terms last March.
Such process was stalled due to the start of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, though not revisited until later in the year. Both boxers were granted interim bouts given travel restrictions, though Williams (23-2-1, 18KOs) was the only one to make his way to the ring. The streaking Welshman scored a 1st round knockout of overmatched Andrew Robinson last October, picking up his seventh straight victory—all inside the distance and coming since moving up from junior middleweight.
From there came the desire to secure his first major title fight.
“There you have it guys,” Williams tweeted in response to the news. “April in the USA where the [takeover] begins.”
Andrade was due to enter a non-title fight above the middleweight limit last November. Those plans were ruined, however, when scheduled opponent Dusty Hernandez-Harrison tested positive for COVID-19. The development came barely a week ahead of the scheduled Nov. 27th DAZN event, not leaving enough time to secure a replacement foe given quarantine guidelines.
Efforts were made by Andrade to revisit a planned showdown with England’s Billy Joe Saunders (30-0, 14KOs), who currently holds the WBO super middleweight title. The two were due to fight in Oct. 2018, when Saunders was still the WBO middleweight titlist. That changed when the British southpaw tested positive for oxilofrine, leaving the WBO to strip him of the title which Andrade claimed in a 12-round shutout of Walter Kautondokwa.
Saunders has since claimed the WBO 168-pound title in May 2019. Andrade was prepared to move up in weight in pursuit of a third divisional title.
The decision was still being considered even as the WBO once again called for Andrade and Williams to renew talks beginning Jan. 15th. The two sides let the deadline expire without reaching a deal, while Saunders has agreed to terms for a May 8 three-belt super middleweight title unification clash with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (54-1-2, 36KOs). That left Andrade without a backup plan, although the 2008 U.S, Olympian and two-division titlist will at least get to return to the ring in the near future.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox