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TRANSFORMING THE WBO JR. MIDDLEWEIGHT DIVISION
Three Fights That Would Transform the WBO Jr. Middleweight Division
By Kerry Benjamin
Special to BASN
NEW YORK CITY (BASN): Demetrius Andrade, at age 26, is currently the youngest title holder in the 154 division. The 2008 Olympian has remained undefeated in 20 fights against mostly over-matched opponents—the toughest of his opponents being Vanes Martirosyan, another Olympian and then undefeated fighter who managed to drop Demetrius early in the first round. He managed to adjust and win the fight afterwards.
I believe his level of competition has led him to be underrated in this division. Demetrius is a southpaw with great hand speed, a really solid jab, a strong left hand and will mix in a left uppercut and ability to attack the body. In his more recent fights, he seems less impatient to get a guy out of there and is less in love with his left hand, a sign of his growth. Demetrius has a mandatory challenger in June versus the WBO number 1, Brian Rose.
Brian Rose (25-1 7KOs), is a 29-year-old British native who won his WBO eliminator against Javier Francisco Maciel via split decision. While his record might indicate a lack of power, he has good boxing skills. I believe Demetrius will walk away with the win without too much trouble if he takes the fight to Rose; but it still doesn’t do much for his buzz – which is why I propose a WBO Eliminator Match between the numbers 3 and 4 respectively, Jermell Charlo and James Kirkland, to be next in line after Rose.
James Kirkland (32-1 28 KOs) is nothing less than a warrior and a monster of a pressure fighter. At any given moment during a fight, he can easily make you feel like you shouldn’t be in the ring with him. Kirkland will walk stalk, corner, and unload flurries of shots. He’s a fan-friendly fighter who loves to brawl.
While his life outside of boxing has sometimes made his ascension tenuous at best, it’s hard to deny his talent and hunger when he’s in the ring. In his last fight, he practically mauled the then undefeated Glen Tapia and looked great doing so. Kirkland is a strong contender who is ready for his next title shot.
Jermell Charlo (23-0 11KO’s) is the more experienced of the Charlo twins. He is a young, technically sound fighter who can patiently control his opponent with his good jab, evasiveness, and great combinations. He will try to capitalize without hesitation on fighters who are vulnerable to body shots and interesting varied angles like those seen against Jose Angel Rodriguez.
In his most recent fight against Gabriel Rosado, he easily out-boxed, outmaneuvered, and outpointed the sluggish looking challenger. Jermell is at the contender level and would provide an interesting challenge against the left handed Kirkland’s forward style.
Whoever holds the belt after these three fights would have made a strong statement by defeating the other two opponents. It would be hard to argue against their world-level talent and dominance.
Furthermore, the champion easily makes himself a strong candidate to be one of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s next opponents. These can be some of the most exciting fights in the junior middleweight division that fans would love to see.
And, of course, Floyd Mayweather is always lurking…
Kerry Benjamin is a native of Brooklyn NY.