Demetrius Andrade stops Willie Nelson

Photo credit Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME – Undefeated former world champion Demetrius Andrade put on a masterful performance against top-10 ranked Willie Nelson, flooring the former world title challenger four times including once in the opening round and emphatically in the final round to close the show (TKO 12, 1:38).

Demetrius Andrade delivered a statement, knockout victory over Willie Nelson, staking his claim as one of the world’s best in the stacked 154-pound division. In the opening bout, Dejan Zlaticanin knocked out Franklin Mamani to earn the vacant 135-pound world title and make history as the first native of Montenegro to win a world championship.

With the win, Nelson, who landed a staggering 57 percent of his power punches in just his second fight in two years, moved one step closer to earning another shot at a title fight. Andrade, who never lost his belt in the ring, is now the second mandatory challenger for the WBC Super Welterweight World Title, currently held by Jermell Charlo.

“I’m coming to get those belts,” said the 28-year-old Andrade. “People can’t run no more. The best have to fight the best. I’m coming for them.

“I came back, I’m stronger. Me and my team worked hard. We figured out what we need to do to take it to the next level. I’m ready for the Charlo brothers. I want them.”

Andrade was on his way to pitching a shutout, delivering a statement performance after months of frustration from “boxing politics.” The former WBO 154-pound champion targeted the head and the body of Nelson, relying on a steady diet of combos to floor the 6-foot-3 Nelson in the first, 11th and twice in the 12th.

“I’m young enough and my reaction time is still going,” Andrade said. “Willie Nelson is a true champion. He pushed me to the limit where I had to figure out what punches to throw. But I put the pieces of the puzzle together and got the knockout, baby.

Nelson, of Cleveland, dropped to 25-3-1 with 15 KOs.

“He was tough,” Nelson said. “I was forcing my shots too much. I felt like I was getting back into the fight, but he was crafty and mobile.

“I am ready for whatever is next and, despite what happened tonight, I am here to stay. My career won’t end like this.”