Librado Andrade: “I know how to be nice to people and I know how to beat up people!”
By Chris Akers
After losing to Mikkel Kessler, Andrade had to regroup. As he puts it, he was ‘going back to square one. I’m starting all over.’ It would be 16 months before he would fight again. And unlike when he fought Kessler, Andrade would not be the main focus of the media’s attention.
“I fought Ted Muller on the Winky Wright undercard against Bernard Hopkins,” says Andrade. “I won. It was an easy fight. I was supposed to win. Then I was offered a fight against Yusaf Mack.”
The fight with Mack took place just under three months after his victory over Muller. Again it was on an undercard of a huge fight – the rematch between Manny Pacquiao and Marco Antonio Barrera.
“He was a really good boxer. I knocked him out in the second round, but not before I was dropped in the first. That was the first time I was dropped.”
This earned Andrade an eliminator against Robert Stieglitz. In arguably his best win, Andrade stopped Stieglitz in the eighth round to become mandatory for Lucien Bute.
“When that fight was talked about, I never expected that it was going to happen. But I was ready for him. I knew that Lucien was a very good boxer and I had trouble with Kessler because he moved so much. I thought that if I made Lucien Bute fight a little bit harder than Kessler, I can get to him. I don’t know how long it would take, but I could get to him. As long as I knock him out, I don’t care if I lose every round. That was my mentality and that is what I was ready for.”
The fight started well for Bute. He won the first four rounds, but Andrade sensed a change in the fifth.
“When I was fighting Lucien, in the fifth round I connected with him and I clinched Lucien in one of the corners and threw a combination and I hurt him. When he grabbed me I could sense and I said to myself ‘Today I’m going to be a world champion.’ The bell rings and as I was walking to my corner I was smiling. I was so happy. I said ‘I’m going to be a world champion today. I know I’m going to be a world champion.’ There is nothing that Lucien Bute is going to do. I don’t care if I am going to lose the next few rounds. I was going to get Bute.’
“But the sixth round came and he boxed. The next round the same thing. Every time I would get to him I would touch him on the stomach, I would touch him on the chin with a good shot, at least once every round.”
Rounds went by and Andrade was losing every round. At this point, Andrade was not happy with the performance of the third man in the ring, Marlon Wright.
“Every time Marlon Wright the referee separated us when we’re in a clinch and when I was going to unload and finish the job, he would interfere. He would not let us fight.”
Bute threw a combination in the tenth round and Andrade went under his hook.
“Marlon Wright was right there in front of us. He was watching. When I went under Bute’s hook, he pushed me and I went down to the ground. In my mind, it was down and up. Marlon Wright was already at eight. He counted so fast. One, Two, Three, Four! I was like ‘Dude, he pushed me!’”
Round eleven went by with Bute winning. Come the twelfth round, Andrade needed a knockout to win. Andrade was able to land several punches that rendered Bute groggy. Bute was staggering across the ring at this point, yet seconds were quickly running out like the grains of sand rushing down the bottom of an egg timer. Would Andrade stop Bute before all the sand would run out?
With two seconds left, Bute was knocked down by a right hand. When a boxer is knocked to the canvas, the referee normally picks up the count. Yet Wright stopped the count as Andrade in his opinion, Andrade had not retreated to a neutral corner. Bute survived the count and Andrade was left to wonder what could have been.
“In the last round, when I dropped him I was going close to him. I was nowhere close to him to put Bute in danger. I was ready to jump and celebrate that he had stopped the fight. But he didn’t and I just couldn’t believe it. I believed I was going to be a world champion.”
Andrade had to start again, but not from as low a place as his last defeat. His next bout took place in April 2009. Once again it was in Canada, but this time it was an eliminator against Vitali Tsypko for Bute’s title. Andrade won a unanimous decision and Tsypko would never fight again. Although the chance to fight Bute again should have been celebrated, from the moment he went home after that eliminator, things in his personal life were not as victorious.
“After that fight, I went back home and things didn’t go well at home anymore. I was starting to feel a little bit depressed. Almost a full year went by before I fought Lucien again.
“I started training camp badly. I wasn’t feeling it anymore. It wasn’t in my heart anymore. A lot of things happened at training camp with my brother, with my ex-wife.”
The result of the rematch was more conclusive than the first fight. Andrade was stopped by a body shot in the fourth round.
“The second fight, I wasn’t at it anymore,” explains Andrade. “From the beginning, I was throwing shots that I wasn’t supposed to be throwing. I was being lazy with my right hand. He just got me with a shot to the body. In a way, I felt that my heart wasn’t responding anymore.”
After losing to Bute more decisively, Andrade’s career petered out. He lost two of his last five fights over a period of nearly four years, though did end his career with a win in 2013. It was after his penultimate fight that he sat down with Al Haymon.
“If I have won that fight (his penultimate fight) I was going to fight Andre Ward. I knew I could win, but I didn’t have it on me. So they sat down with me and said to me ‘We don’t want you to get hurt. Let’s quit boxing.’”
At the same time, Andrade and his wife separated.
“Things weren’t going good at home anymore. On my [penultimate] fight, which was in Texas, I had a big argument with my wife. From the Kessler fight, when I started going away for big fights, every time I would get into an argument with my wife. This day I said you know what I don’t want to do this anymore. I said that I don’t want to fight you before I go to fight.”
Andrade has nothing but good words to say about the man who signed him back in 2005.
“To me, Al gave me something that I never dreamed existed. I went back to working in fast food and PBC call him asking him what he was doing. He was back to work, back to life.”
In retirement, Andrade went back to working in fast food.
“All I knew how to do was customer service and fight!’ he laughs. I know how to be nice to people and I know how to beat up people!”
PBC offered him a role within the company six years ago and he has been working for them ever since.
“My role with PBC is my title of boxing advisor. But I do with PBC ask of me. If I need to travel with the fighter, I travel with the fighter. Usually, it’s a Hispanic fighter who I have a good relationship. PBC is like family. We are all very fortunate. Al Haymon is a master of what he does.”
Somebody once asked him how he would cope with the fighters of today. Andrade feels that this is the wrong question to ask.
“The real question is how would Joe Calzaghe and Mikkel Kessler and all the guys back then do against these guys, as they had the experience of fighting under big crowds. I probably would have made a good opponent, I don’t know!”
Andrade fought in the best era of super middleweights there has ever been. From Carl Froch to Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward, the level of talent of the 168lb division at that time was as high as it was deep. Andrade may not have won a title belt during that time, but he always gave his best.
Perseverance is a common theme throughout Andrade’s life and it has served him well, not just with competing with the boxers he did, but with helping him establish a stable and content life since he has retired. Canelo may have been the first to collect all four of the belts at super middleweight, but Andrade’s name is part of the greatest era in that division’s history, and that should not be forgotten.