Will Fates finally smile on Andrade?
Whoever is in charge of destiny and circumstance -- the Fates, let's call them -- saw to it last weekend that Puerto Rican junior bantamweight Jose "Carita" Lopez won a world title.
It was the 37-year-old Lopez's fifth try.
Now, if the Fates have good taste, they'll make sure super middleweight Librado Andrade gets a third crack at a world title. And if they have any sense of fair play, Andrade will again be matched with IBF 168-pound champion Lucian Bute.
Thus far, at least, greater powers seem determined to keep the memory of Andrade's title fight against Bute fresh in the contender's mind. The bout happened almost six months ago, but the controversy created when Andrade emphatically floored an empty Bute with four seconds remaining in the 12th and final round lives on.
Bute beat the count, but not without the help of the ropes and the corner pad. And that count was suspended at six when referee Marlon B. Wright turned away from Bute and admonished Andrade for having wandered from a neutral corner.
Not that Andrade hasn't tried to move on.
"I'm not focused on Bute at all," Andrade told ESPN.com. "When I think about that day, it was the referee's call. My feeling is that he decided to gamble with Bute's safety. That's why I'm not the champion."
Try as he has, Andrade hasn't been able to detach himself completely from Bute. Three weeks ago, Andrade sat in the third row at the Bell Centre in Montreal -- the same arena that hosted Bute-Andrade last October -- for Bute's successful defense against Fulgencio Zuniga.
"I'm not really a boxing fan, and I don't like going to fights," Andrade said, "but the Bell Centre did everything they could to keep my next fight happening, so my manager, Al Haymon, asked me to go."
The fight Andrade referred to comes this Saturday, an eliminator vs. Vitali Tsypko. The site? The same Bell Centre. The stakes? The winner becomes the mandatory challenger for … who else but Bute?
Immediately after his points loss to Bute, Andrade said "I know he ain't gonna give me no rematch."
Whether that proves true remains to be seen.
"Bute's talking about unification fights, so anything can happen after my fight [against Tsypko]," Andrade said.
There's another reason Andrade has mastered the difficult task of taking one fight at a time: He has nerve damage in his left elbow, which has created his unique defensive approach. When he keeps his guard high and blocks punches with his elbow or forearm, Andrade risks losing feeling in his arm and the ability to raise it. As a result, he prefers rolling with punches or occasionally blocking them with his face.
"Because of the elbow, I feel like my next fight could be my last," Andrade said.
In Montreal, Andrade will take on 32-year-old Ukrainian veteran Tsypko, who's best known to American fans for a pair of nationally televised fights against Jeff Lacy. (In 2004, Tsypko and Lacy fought to a two-round no-contest; in '06, Lacy defeated Tsypko by majority decision.)
Tsypko (22-2, 12 KOs) qualified for this eliminator by outpointing David Gogiya in September '07.
"I thought I won the second Lacy fight, but he got the verdict," Tsypko said through Chris Meyer of Sauerland Events, which promotes the super middleweight. "For ages, I've been waiting at the No. 2 spot, and this is more or less a last chance.
"Andrade's a tough fighter, but I am very experienced, too. I'm glad to be active again and making my way toward a world-title fight."
Andrade is a classic pressure fighter with an impenetrable chin. For 11 rounds, his aggressiveness was nullified by Bute, who is a smooth-boxing southpaw.
Tsypko will present an altogether different style.
"All I know is that he doesn't run, like Bute or Mikkel Kessler [who outpointed Andrade in a title fight in 2007]," Andrade said. "That's a big advantage already. I know we're gonna hit each other. All I need is an opponent who fights."
Tsypko should accommodate Andrade, but in a rematch Bute isn't likely to willingly do so. Nonetheless, Bute-Andrade II would be eagerly anticipated.
"I was just thinking to myself, 'Why was I so patient with Bute?'" Andrade said. "I hurt him in the fifth round, but I didn't feel a sense of urgency until the 10th, 11th, 12th.
"Sooner or later I knew he had to engage me, because I was getting closer and closer.
"Why was I so nice?"
For Andrade, Saturday's fight with Tsypko is more than a formality. But in an exclusive interview with those aforementioned Fates, ESPN.com learned Andrade will not only win, but will get the chance to show a meaner side against Bute the second time around.
Steve Farhood is a boxing analyst for Showtime and a writer/columnist for Boxing Monthly.
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