Martirosyan-Andrade set for Sept. 7
Junior middleweight contenders Vanes Martirosyan and Demetrius Andrade, both unbeaten former U.S. Olympians, will meet for a vacant 154-pound world title on Sept. 7, both camps told ESPN.com on Thursday.
The bout will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and serve as the co-feature on the HBO "World Championship Boxing" broadcast, headlined by former middleweight titlist Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. facing Brian Vera in a super middleweight bout.
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Andrade, the mandatory challenger, was originally supposed to face titlist Zaurbek Baysangurov of Russia on July 6 in Kiev, Ukraine. However, Baysangurov suffered a back injury and withdrew from the fight. Unable to make a due mandatory defense and likely to be sidelined for an extended period, Baysangurov was stripped of his belt. That left Andrade to face the next leading available contender, Martirosyan.
"I'm really excited," Martirosyan told ESPN.com. "[Manager] Cameron [Dunkin] called me at 7 a.m. and I had just come back from running and laid down to rest before training. He told me the good news and I was really excited. I am just ready to go.
"It's been a long time coming. I've been asking for the shot and now I finally got it. It took a long time to get a shot. Honestly, I'm still a little in shock because it took me a long time to get this title shot."
The 27-year-old Martirosyan (33-0-1, 21 KOs), a 2004 Olympian from Glendale, Calif., has been close to a shot at 154-pound for years. Last November, he fought to a ninth-round technical draw with Erislandy Lara in an eliminator that was supposed to give the winner a shot at the belt held by Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.
Andrade (19-0, 13 KOs), 25, of Providence, R.I., was a 2008 Olympian and also won a world amateur championship in 2007. He is not nearly as experienced as a professional as Martirosyan but dominated fringe contender Freddy Hernandez in his last fight in January to win by 10-round shutout decision.
"This is two undefeated American Olympians battling for a world title," said Carl Moretti, vice president of Top Rank, which promotes Martirosyan. "I think it will end up being a pretty exciting fight because there is so much on the line and I don't think either guy will hold back. I think it's an interesting fight, I really do."
HBO wasn't so sure. Both fighters have been in some less-than-scintillating bouts. Initially, the network outright rejected the bout, prompting Top Rank chairman Bob Arum to say he would put it on the Nov. 23 undercard of the Manny Pacquiao-Brandon Rios pay-per-view fight in Macau, China.
But when Top Rank and HBO could not come up with a serious undercard fight for Chavez-Vera -- they were looking at Luis Carlos Abregu and had no opponent lined up for him -- Top Rank and Andrade co-promoter Artie Pelullo made another push for Andrade-Martirosyan and it worked. Moretti said Abregu will be moved to another Top Rank card to be determined.
"I think it's a fight that Demetrius will shine in," said Pelullo, who co-promotes Andrade with Joe DeGuardia of Star Boxing. "These are young guys and the winner will be a player at junior middleweight and eventually middleweight, and it's on the big stage of an HBO 'World Championship Boxing' card. It's a great showcase for both kids."
Martirosyan, who was born in Armenia, will have the home crowd behind him because Glendale, just minutes from the Staples Center, has a large Armenian community. But he said he is taking nothing for granted.
"Andrade was going to go to Ukraine to fight for the title, so I don't think it's going to be a big deal for him to come to Los Angeles, but it's a hometown fight for me for sure," Martirosyan said.
Martirosyan, who is trained by Hall of Famer Freddie Roach, said he likes the idea of facing a fellow unbeaten Olympian.
"It's '04 versus '08," he said. "In 2004, when I was going to the Olympics, I heard about this kid coming up in the amateurs. Now we get a chance to fight each other. I think he's one of the best junior middleweights in the world and I am happy we are both getting a shot at the title.
"I've seen him in the pros. He hasn't fought anybody with a big name. I think I've fought better guys than he has. But one of us will take a big step forward and the other will take a step back. It's do or die for both of us. I just can't wait."