Andrade stops Akavov to retain WBO middleweight title

NEW YORK (AP) — Demetrius Andrade easily defended his WBO middleweight title Friday night, stopping Russia’s Artur Akavov in the 12th round to remain unbeaten.

Andrade (27-0, 17 KOs) seemed headed to a lopsided decision victory before referee Arthur Mercante called a sudden and surprising end to the fight with about a half-minute left when Andrade landed a punch that knocked Akavov backward a bit.

The angry Akavov shoved Mercante away a couple times, but that was about the best contact he made in the fight.

Otherwise, nearly everything of note was landed by the champion from Providence, Rhode Island, in the first defense of the title he won in October.

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Andrade owns the lone major middleweight belt that won’t be on the line when Canelo Alvarez faces Danny Jacobs on May 4 in a unification bout that was announced Thursday, and will hope for bigger fights in the future than the mismatch in the Theater in Madison Square Garden.

Akavov (16-3) fell short in his second title shot, having lost to Billy Joe Saunders in 2016.

Andrade was supposed to face Saunders in October, but Saunders was stripped of his belt for testing positive for a banned substance. Andrade ended up facing Walter Kautondokwa and knocked him down four times before cruising to a unanimous decision.

This one wasn’t quite that easy, but it certainly wasn’t tough for Andrade.

Andrade landed a good flurry of shots along the ropes late in the fourth round, but otherwise never appeared to really hurt Akavov. He didn’t need to, as his effective right jab kept the challenger from ever getting into an offensive situation.

Akavov kept shaking his head after Andrade landed, either trying to show he wasn’t hurt or frustrated that he was getting hit so easily with no apparent plan to change things.

Akavov did surprise Andrade with a good combination in the ninth in his most effective moment of the fight, winning the round on all three judges’ cards. But Andrade resumed his dominance in the 10th, when Akavov was cut over the right eye by an accidental head-butt.

In the co-feature, former lightweight champion Jorge Linares was knocked down three times by Mexico’s Pablo Cesar Cano (32-7-1, 22 KOs) before the fight was stopped with 12 seconds left in the first round. Linares (45-5) had moved up to 140 pounds after Vasyl Lomachenko stopped him in a lightweight title bout here last year and could never get his footing against a hard puncher at the higher weight.

Former 140-pound champion Chris Algieri (23-3) continued his comeback with a unanimous decision over fellow New Yorker Daniel Gonzalez (17-2). Algieri was cut under his eye and there was a mixture of boos when the bout that seemed closer than a couple of judges’ scores.

Also, IBF 122-pound champion TJ Doheny (21-0, 15 KOs) remained unbeaten by stopping Ryohei Takahashi (16-4-1) in the 10th round.

Amanda Serrano (36-1-1, 27 KOs) needed just 35 seconds to win a title in a seventh weight class, dropping Eva Voraberger (24-6) of Austria with a body shot from which she couldn’t recover. Serrano took a 115-pound title after dropping down from 140 pounds in her most recent bout.

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