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, 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.

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.