Andrade KO’s Keeler to keep middleweight title

Middleweight world titlist Demetrius Andrade has tried his best to get fellow titleholders Canelo Alvarez, Gennadiy Golovkin or Jermall Charlo to fight him, but they won’t even say his name, much less agree to step into the ring with him.

So Andrade has had to just stay busy and keep winning, hoping he will get his shot at a major fight. He continued to hold up his end of the bargain, retaining his 160-pound belt in overwhelmingly dominant fashion as he scored a pair of knockdowns en route to knocking out the overmatched Luke Keeler in the ninth round Thursday night at the Meridian at Island Gardens in Miami, where the card was one of the events put on around Sunday’s Super Bowl.

The fight was the first of a four-fight contract extension between Andrade and promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing that was announced last week, and Andrade kicked it off with a bang.

Former two-time junior middleweight world titlist Andrade (29-0, 18 KOs), 31, of Providence, Rhode Island, looked like he was going to end his third defense immediately.

As soon as the bout began, Andrade charged right at Keeler and landed a big overhand left to knock him down in the opening seconds. Another left hand sent Keeler into the ropes in a dominating first round.

Andrade, a southpaw, continued to attack in the second round. He landed a long overhand left on the chin, and Keeler went down hard into the ropes with 15 seconds left in the round. Andrade then landed another left hand and a right uppercut as he closed out the round with Keeler in dire trouble.

Keeler (17-3-1, 5 KOs), 32, of Ireland, managed to stay on his feet in the ensuing rounds but it was all Andrade, who landed numerous clean punches to the head and body while barely taking anything in return. He is statistically one of boxing’s best defensive fighters.

Andrade kept looking for one big punch and got sloppy as the fight went on. But Keeler was so ineffective that he could not do anything even when Andrade opened himself up by throwing wild, lopping punches.

Keeler, who came into the fight 7-0-1 in his last eight fights since 2016 and coming off his most notable victory — a 10-round decision against Luis Arias, whom he dropped twice, in August — resorted to trying to simply hold and grab to survive. But Andrade shook him off and went after him with abandon in the ninth round, when he pummeled him into a stoppage.

Andrade was all over him, landing thudding rights and lefts and a right uppercut that did major damage and sent Keeler into the ropes. As Andrade continued teeing off on a defenseless Keeler, referee Telis Assimenios stepped in and stopped the fight at 2 minute, 59 seconds.

The CompuBox statistics illustrated Andrade’s utter dominance. He landed 146 of 385 punches (38%) while Keeler landed just 34 of 298 shots (11%).