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John John Florence is 1 step closer to 2nd world title

Nick Abramo
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Reigning World Champion John John Florence of Hawaii, currently World No.1 on the Jeep Leaderboard, took one step closer to another World Title and advanced directly to the Quarterfinals of the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal after winning Heat 2 of Round Four at Supertubos, Peniche, Portugal, today.

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Kolohe Andino, of California, will surf in Round Five of the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal after placing second in Heat 2 of Round Four at Supertubos, Peniche, Portugal, today.

Haleiwa’s John John Florence pushed one step closer to clinching his second straight world surfing championship today.

Florence came from behind with a late tube ride/360 combo in his fourth-round heat to beat Kolohe Andino at the Rip Curl Pro Portugal at Supertubos in Peniche, Portugal.

Andino took the early lead with some highly technical airs before falling 17.00 to 15.57. Florence moved straight to the quarterfinals, which are expected to take place Wednesday morning in Portugal (9 p.m. tonight, Hawaii time). Hawaii fans can watch the action live tonight, surf conditions permitting, on Spectrum channels 250 and 1250.

Interestingly, Andino dropped into the elimination fifth round and survived to make it into the quarterfinals, where the San Clemente, Calif., surfer will meet Florence again. Another epic battle is expected.

“I’m pretty determined,” Florence said to reporters after his fourth-round win. “I’m putting everything I’ve got into it.”

Florence, who is No. 1 on the World Surf League championship tour, can defend his world title by winning the Portugal contest, which is the second-to-last stop out of 11 on the tour. There is one other way Florence can clinch the world title in Portugal: if he makes the final and No. 3 Gabriel Medina of Brazil does not.

In all other scenarios, the world championship will come down to the final tour event, the Billabong Pipe Masters at Ehukai Beach, Dec. 8-20.

Medina faces three-time world champion Mick Fanning of Australia in the quarters. He is very much alive for his second world title as is No. 6 Julian Wilson of Australia, who is preparing for his quarterfinal heat against Kauai’s Sebastian Zietz.

No. 2 Jordy Smith of South Africa, who was eliminated from the contest previously, will remain in the world-title chase if it is still up for grabs when the surfers hit Pipeline.

Quarterfinal matchups:

>> Heat 1: No. 6 Julian Wilson (Australia) vs. No. 11 Sebastian Zietz (Kauai)

>> Heat 2: No. 1 John John Florence (Haleiwa) vs. No. 10 Kolohe Andino (San Clemente, Calif.)

>> Heat 3: No. 24 Kanoa Igarashi (Huntington Beach, Calif.) vs. No. 27 Miguel Pupo (Brazil)

>> Heat 4: No. 3 Gabriel Medina (Brazil) vs. No. 12 Mick Fanning (Australia)

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