5 Key Questions That Will Decide Brian Rose vs. Demetrius Andrade
Blackpool's Brian Rose (pictured) will challenge unbeaten American WBO champion Demetrius Andrade Saturday night for his first chance at winning a world title in the light middleweight division.
It is a fight that has flown under the radar as the chief support to Ruslan Provodnikov's expected mauling of Chris Algieri at New York's Barclays Center, but given Rose is more proven than Algieri, it should be the more competitive contest on the night.
Rose has one defeat on his record, a stoppage loss to Max Maxwell back in 2010—at that time you would not have expected him to win the British title, let alone go on to challenge for world honours.
But that's exactly what has come to pass with Rose managing to rise to the occasion and dig victories out as his standard of opposition has improved.
Having upset Prince Arron to win the British light-middleweight title, Rose avenged the Maxwell defeat quite easily in 2012.
Last year saw Rose take on international opposition with the best wins on his record coming over Joachim Alcine and Javier Maciel, the latter being the win which won Rose this title shot.
Meanwhile, Andrade, a standout amateur boxer, is three years younger at 26 and has only been a pro since 2008.
Andrade hadn't done much prior to last year either, when he beat Freddy Hernandez before winning the vacant world title against Vanes Martirosyan.
Now the two still-developing fighters are on a collision course—here are the five key questions that will decide Rose-Andrade.
1. Who Will Better Establish His Jab?
Both Rose and Andrade are tall, rangy light middleweights. Whereas last week the middleweight championship was contested by Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez—one 5′7″, one 5′10″—this week we have a title in the division below contested by the 6′0″ Rose and 6′1″ Andrade.
As you would expect from guys who are usually the taller man in the ring, Rose and Andrade each like to work at range behind the jab.
With Rose in particular, everything comes off the jab, so as is generally anticipated, Andrade is a little bit quicker and a little bit sharper, and Rose is losing the battle of the jabs, which could really undermine his confidence.
Rose also has the problem that Andrade is a southpaw. You would traditionally tend to see southpaws effective at mitigating the jab of orthodox fighters by placing their front right foot on the outside and taking away opportunities to throw the punch.
It is worrying for the Brit that he has never faced a decent southpaw, so unless he has had exceptional sparring, he may struggle to adjust to Andrade's style.
Even so, both fighters are likely to find it somewhat challenging to fight their usual game against a fighter with similar physical attributes.
Whoever can take the lead in this aspect of the contest and establish his jab is likely to be a good way down the road to victory.
2. Can Either Fighter Truly Hurt the Other?
The stats tell you Andrade has 13 stoppage wins from 20 whereas Rose has seven from 25 (plus one defeat and one draw).
That would suggest Andrade is the bigger puncher, but it is somewhat misleading because Rose has fought at a higher level of opposition overall.
Andrade's three best wins—against Martirosyan, Freddy Hernandez and Grady Brewer—have all come by way of decision, so it is hard to make the case that he is a serious puncher.
However, it would be true to say Rose is notably light-punching with less pop than Martirosyan. And although the Armenian-born fighter dropped Andrade last time out, it was more of a flash knockdown, and the American was not badly hurt.
Therefore it is probably safe to conclude that Rose is unlikely to really hurt Andrade in this fight and will be reliant on taking a decision.
The other way, it would be a surprise to see Andrade hurt Rose with a single shot but not to see him force a stoppage through an accumulation of punches.
The fight certainly looks a lot different if Andrade can hurt Rose than if he can't, because if the Englishman is worried about his opponent's power, that is likely to significantly diminish the expansiveness of his work.
If Andrade has damaging punches, it is very hard to see Rose winning, but if not, a close, cagey chess match could ensue.
3. Has Andrade Taken Rose Seriously?
Both of these fighters have been out of the ring for some time—Rose since October, Andrade since November—so either of them could have regressed in that time if he took his foot off the pedal.
In one corner, Rose is known to be a dedicated professional. Frankly, if he wasn't, he would never have reached this far in the sport. Waiting for his first world-title fight, he's had every motivation to stay focused.
Andrade, by contrast, has had his world-title victory to celebrate, whilst the prospect of facing Brian Rose, a virtual unknown in the U.K., let alone the U.S., is hardly a huge motivator.
In an interview with The Ring, Andrade said of his opponent, "I don’t know his strengths and don’t really care. He’s going to have to deal with me. I will expose him."
This hardly suggests the champion is expecting that he needs to be at 100 percent for this one.
Furthermore, Andrade said of his preparation, "I got up and ate pancakes, worked hard in the gym and then a little ice cream and maybe some cupcakes. I had no problems making weight."
How seriously you should take that is debatable, but it's loud and clear Andrade does not believe Rose is at his level.
What is certain about Rose is that he makes the most of what he has, is tough and gritty and can fight at a good pace for 12 rounds.
If Andrade is not in top fighting shape, that might just open the door for the Englishman to have a real chance in this contest.
4. Will Home Advantage Pay?
Demetrius Andrade knows all about home advantage from his amateur days.
After winning the 2007 World Championship gold as a welterweight when the tournament was held in Chicago, Andrade went into the 2008 Beijing Olympics with high expectations.
But the American went out before the medal stages, dropping an 11-9 verdict to South Korea's Kim Jung-Joo.
Andrade felt hard done by, saying, "I fought my heart out but sometimes life is unfair. I was landing a lot of punches but the judges were not giving them to me."
In Brian Rose's last fight against Maciel there was a split decision which many felt could have gone either way, but the Blackpool man got the nod in Sheffield rather than his Argentinian opponent.
Neither Andrade nor Rose is a particularly popular fighter, and given they are fighting on the undercard it is unlikely either man will have a loud enough crowd to influence either the combatants themselves or the officials.
But ultimately, with Andrade as the belt-holder fighting in his own country on a TV network he has appeared on before, he is clearly the house fighter.
The exaggeratedly wide cards from when Lukas Konecny unsuccessfully challenged Peter Quillin in Washington D.C. two months ago show how things can go against an unheralded European challenger fighting stateside.
There's a fair chance this fight goes the distance, and if it does that it's a cagey affair with swing rounds, so it's possible we could see a controversial hometown decision.
5. Is Andrade World-Class?
Prior to last year, Andrade was yet to follow through on his amateur pedigree, taking a slow but steady approach to climbing the boxing rankings.
In his first world-title opportunity against the tricky Martirosyan the key was to get the win and thus establish himself as a name in the division.
Now Andrade wants to create buzz as a rising star and unbeaten champion. His manager, Ed Farris, is quoted by BoxRec News as saying, "Hopefully, we'll get a spectacular win and provide fans with the kind of performance that they deserve. They will see Demetrius' incredible potential and special gifts."
That means they want a KO live on HBO, as there is no better way of firing yourself into the boxing stratosphere.
Andrade dreams of a fight with one of the sport's money men, most notably Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez, proven pay-per-view fighters who have held titles in the light middleweight division.
If the 26-year-old is truly talented enough to hang in their company then he needs to be outclassing and stopping the game by limited Brian Rose.
Rose is no pushover, but if Andrade is as good as his amateur record and his management suggest, this is the time to prove it, and he could win this one in dominant and devastating fashion.