Walter Kautondokwa plans on destroying Demetrius Andrade
As the great Larry Merchant dropped the line decades ago, boxing is the theater of the unexpected. Time to time, this phrase renews its own legitimacy through a series of happenings that are only believed to happen on movie screens.
Walter Kautondokwa is an unbeaten fighter from Namibia, a country with a population of barely two million people in the southwest region of Africa. During his five years in the pro ranks, he has fought and beaten 17 opponents in a row; 16 of them fell short inside the scheduled distance.
Still, he struggled to get a meaningful fight, only dreaming about big opportunities in dirty dressing rooms of small arenas, where his fights had been staged back in his native country. He was chasing a world title bout for over a year-and-a-half, thanks to his ever-improving ranking position within the World Boxing Organization horizon but champion Billy Joe Saunders easily ignored those attempts, as a potential bout against an unknown pugilist who can punch is proven to be a poor risk-reward option for beltholders.
However thanks to the unexpected nature of the sport, the Namibian fighter, whose nickname “The Executioner” relates to the knockout power in his fists, could pack his baggage and set off from his beloved Namibia to take a fight he always dreamt about, in the form of a vacant WBO world title bout in the United States.
The southpaw Kautondokwa, 17-0 (16), came into the title picture after the British troublemaker Saunders failed a doping test and thus was refused to get licensed for his championship bout against mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade. It was a fight that was scheduled to headline a strong card in Boston’s TD Garden, this coming Saturday, promoted by Matchroom Boxing USA and broadcast live by DAZN.
The news about the positive VADA test was released on September 27, only weeks before the fight that also left spare time for Team Kautondokwa to decide whether take this big opportunity against the fellow unbeaten Andrade, 25-0 (16).
“It was extremely short notice. Even though we officially had 22 days, we were still not sure until October 10th and you still need to deduct travel time from Windhoek to Boston and arriving there to climatize,” said Nestor Tobias, the promoter of Kautondokwa, on the day of the Namibian contingent’s departure from Windhoek last Saturday.
“We had to think about the offer very quickly and I think we made the best decision to take the fight, taking everything else into consideration. I am confident that Walter is fit but of course, at this level, it takes fitness and a strategy to adjust to a specific opponent. All I can say is that we will make the best out of this opportunity.”
The wait for the final confirmation made things even more complicated, as it is extremely difficult for a boxer to fully concentrate on a fight that is still up in the air.
“I was not quite sure whether to be excited or not because it was not a done deal, which makes it difficult to focus,” Kautondokwa told this writer before adding, “What is important is the fight is on and I will go out there and give it my all.”
Taking a fight on short notice means the participant needs to acclimate to the circumstances, be them the date and location of the fight as well as the opponent. In Andrade, the Namibian fighter will face a lanky foe with improved leg movement and a somewhat unorthodox boxing style from a southpaw stance.
The Providence, Rhode Island native has also already reached the top of the pinnacle when he won the vacant WBO championship a division south of middleweight, at 154 pounds in 2013, as well as the secondary version of the WBA title in the spring last year. Tobias, however, is familiar with the opposition in front of his fighter and is still being positive, regarding their legitimate role in the fight.
“Andrade is a good boxer. He has accomplished what he has and has already been a world champion. He is a great fighter; we respect him but we are not afraid or intimidated by him.”
The 33-year-old Namibian also well-researched Andrade’s style and is confident he can manage to take away the space of his naturally mobile opponent.
“We have analyzed his fighting style and we adjusted accordingly. We come to fight. Whether he moves or not, we will follow him and make the ring very small. It will be a brutal fight, if it becomes necessary, but I am coming to fight and to win,” said Kautondokwa, declaring he will live up to his moniker, if that is what it takes to achieve his dream of becoming a world champion.
“The tougher the fight, the more I unleash myself as an executioner. I am ready for whatever Andrade will throw at me.”
Chances to see the Executioner come out of Kautondokwa are extremely great, as to step into the ring in itself can be tough as nails, especially on the mental front, for a fighter who had to go through dark places because of the recent loss of a family member.
Tragedy, just like his opportunity to take a world title fight, came unexpectedly when, only days before the news of Saunders’ positive test, the Namibian pugilist lost his mother, a terrible hit he is still yet to handle.
“Losing a mother is never easy but Walter is determined to succeed and make the best of the situation. Our job is to continue supporting him through this difficult time. He is not just our boxer; we are like an MTC Sunshine (Boxing Academy) family,” stated Tobias.
Despite being haunted by the circumstances, Kautondokwa also feels the love of his mother will never go away and that is fueling him to fulfill his dream before he has the opportunity to mourn her.
“My mom was my rock; she will always be a part of me. Yes, it is very difficult but I also have a responsibility to focus on this big fight now. I never had time to mourn her properly but I will do so with the belt around my waist.”
Boxing fans should remember a fight in which one of the most feared destroyers in the history of the sport got badly beaten and stopped with a huge uppercut by an opponent who was supposed to be no more than a sacrificial lamb. The name of the victim-turned-destroyer on that cold Sunday morning in Tokyo in February 1990 was James “Buster” Douglas, while the destroyer-turned-victim happened to be none other than undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Douglas later revealed he lost his mom just weeks before the monument match-up and the vicious pain in his heart ultimately unleashed a fearless warrior in him who was ready to go through anything to succeed.
“I don’t believe this opportunity came by mistake. This is all God’s plan and, God willing, I will win the world title come October 20, said Kautondokwa.”
On Saturday night, the boxing world is about to witness whether Larry Merchant’s phrase comes into play again. Or else maybe the unexpected nature of events is not so unexpected anymore, if we remember that history repeats itself time and again.