Andrade-Parker: WBO Withdraws Sanction of Interim Super Middleweight Title Fight

boxingscene.com 13 days ago

Zach Parker is back to square one and without a clear path to a due title shot.

The World Boxing Organization (WBO) has withdrawn its sanctioning of a previously approved interim super middleweight title fight between England’s Parker and WBO middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade, the sanctioning body ruled late Friday evening. A shoulder injury suffered by Providence’s Andrade (31-0, 19KOs) requiring surgery forced a postponement of their scheduled May 21 bout at Pride Park in Parker’s home region of Derby, England.

In lieu of a clear timetable as to when the unbeaten American can return to the ring, the WBO opted to scrap the fight altogether.

“[O]n May 2, 2022, the WBO World Championship Committee issued the corresponding interim medical certification notice to Team Andrade requesting informing the WBO of the current status of his injury, the prognosis and his physician’s certification as to when could Andrade return to active competition,” WBO Championship Committee executive chairman Luis Batista-Salas noted in a letter issued to the respective teams for Andrade and Parker, a copy of which was obtained by BoxingScene.com. “In compliance with our order, on May 6 and May 7, 2022, respectively Team Andrade submitted medical documentation summarizing the fighter’s condition as well as advising that Andrade will require at least four months of rehabilitation in addition to the required time for active training and fighting (ready, willing, and able).

“Therefore… it is hereby ordered to terminate the sanction approval granted for the WBO Super Middleweight Interim Championship Title Parker/Andrade and all the provisions set forth therein, effective immediately. In wake of today’s ruling, it is hereby ordered to refund “Queensberry Promotions” the amount total of $366,810.00 representing the applicable 20% of the total purse offers ($1,834,050) lodged with the WBO per the terms of the Parker/Andrade purse bid proceeding conducted on February 25, 2022.”

The letter was addressed to: Ed Farris, Andrade’s manager; Shaun Palmer, counsel for Matchroom Boxing, who is Andrade’s promoter for one more fight; and Andy Ayling, event manager for Queensberry Promotions who signed Parker last February.

Parker (22-0, 16KOs) will remain the mandatory challenge to the WBO super middleweight title. The belt is currently held by undisputed champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (57-2-2, 39KOs), who has yet to determine his next course of action following a twelve-round, unanimous decision defeat to WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11KOs) on May 7 in Las Vegas.

The WBO has been led to believe that Guadalajara’s Alvarez will return to super middleweight for a trilogy bout with IBF/WBA middleweight titlist Gennadiy Golovkin (42-1-1, 37KOs), who will move up in weight. The bout was previously discussed to take place September 17, though the WBO letter suggests an October timeframe.

It does not explain why Parker is not due a straightaway shot at the title or if efforts will be made to reschedule the fight with Andrade, who opted to move up in weight in lieu of a mandatory defense of his WBO middleweight title. Andrade was due to next face Kazakhstan’s Janibek Alimkhanuly (11-0, 7KOs), who will instead face England’s Danny Dignum (14-0-1, 7KOs) for the interim WBO middleweight title on May 21 at Resorts World Las Vegas.  

Andrade remains on the hook to face the winner of Alimkhanuly-Dignum. His current medical status makes it unclear when he can return to the ring or if he can still commit to an interim super middleweight title fight with Parker should the sanctioning body once again sanction such a fight.

Andrade-Alimkhanuly was first ordered last November 30. Several delays were met in plans to move forward with a purse bid before being scrapped altogether once Andrade informed the WBO of his intention to temporarily move up in weight. The pair of interim title fights were sanctioned and ordered by the WBO, with Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions outbidding Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing during a February 25 purse bid hearing for the right to promote Parker-Andrade.

Andrade accepted the terms of the purse bid three days later, moving forward with what would have marked his second career fight outside of the United States. The 2008 U.S. Olympian and three-time titlist in two weight divisions hit the road in a May 2017 win over Jack Culcay to win the WBA junior middleweight title in Ludwigshafen, Germany. The unbeaten southpaw subsequently moved up in weight, claiming the WBO middleweight title just two fights later.

Parker advanced to the top spot in the WBO super middleweight rankings following an 11th round knockout of Rohan Murdock in March 2020, just prior to the pandemic. Three wins have followed before finally being named the mandatory challenger, though a clear shot at the title remains on hold.

All four sanctioning bodies—the WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO—agreed to permit Alvarez to pursue a light heavyweight title fight with Bivol followed by a trilogy clash with Golovkin, in lieu of honoring what will be at least three mandatory title defenses by this fall. Interim title fights were approved by the WBO and WBC, the latter offering its sanction for a super middleweight clash between former two-time WBC super middleweight titlist David Benavidez (25-0, 22KOs) and Montreal’s David Lemieux (43-4, 36KOs) on May 21 in Glendale, Arizona.

The WBC and WBO have both discussed the idea of having the winners of the interim title fights face each other to create a “unified mandatory contender.” Andrade’s injury and required surgery complicates those plans, given that he will be out for at least four months in addition to still requiring approval for the WBO to once again sanction an interim title fight with Parker—a process that will require a new round of negotiations and, potentially, another purse bid hearing in light of Friday’s ruling.

“Nonetheless, this ruling shall not be interpreted as limiting this Committee’s discretion in rendering any further rulings in the WBO Super Middleweight Division in accordance with the WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests,” noted Batista-Salas.