Andrade shaking off Olympic disappointment
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
By any measure, step one has been a smashing success for Demetrius Andrade.
Disappointed in a quest for an Olympic gold to cap his prolonged amateur career last summer, the youngster's subsequent transition to the professional ranks has made it appear as if any post-Games emotional baggage is long forgotten.
In fact, if anything, it's now fuel for the fire.
The Rhode Island native ended his fourth for-pay outing on Friday night in exactly the same way he'd closed the first three - with a dominant stoppage performance that's already got people calling him the sport's top young prospect.
"I think about the Olympics. I'll watch the tapes even when I'm working out," he said. "And when I play them it makes me want to keep going and I have the mindset that I can't let those things happen to me again. I can't live in the past."
The 2007 world amateur champion at welterweight, Andrade was widely expected to capture gold in China before his medal run was surprisingly derailed in the quarterfinals by South Korean Kim Jung-Joo.
Demetrius Andrade was expected to win gold in the Beijing Olympics last summer.
His loss was part of a historically poor performance by the U.S. team, which racked up just one medal - a bronze won at heavyweight by Deontay Wilder.
As a result, and bereft of the hoopla that followed gold-winners Ray Leonard, Pernell Whitaker and Oscar De La Hoya upon their professional curtain-raisers, Andrade and his teammates have begun making their own debuts in the shadows.
Andrade's came in late October under the banner of New York-based Star Boxing, halting six-fight veteran Patrick Cape just 24 seconds into the second round at the Northern Quest Casino in Airway Heights, Wash.
He returned a month later with a fourth-round TKO of Eric Marriott in Lincoln, R.I. then came back with two more fights this month alone - a first-round blowout of Tom Joseph on March 6 and a second-round KO of Arnulfo Javier Romero last weekend.
A quick return to some.
But all according to plan for Team Andrade.
Rather than slowly stocking up on career losers with woeful records, Demetrius and his lead adviser - his father, Paul - have instead chosen foes with respectable records from whom they felt they could quickly learn on the job.
Andrade said he and his father are presented with a list of available opposition from the team at Star Boxing, from which they select each individual foe.
Cape was 4-2 with three knockout victories prior to Andrades debut triumph, while No. 3 opponent Tom Joseph had just one loss in six fights and No. 4 Romero was unbeaten in two straight before last weeks stoppage in Laredo, Texas.
"Everything's going well, obviously, but it's just the way we figured it would work out," said the precocious 6-foot-1 junior middleweight, who turned 21 in late February. "There was no point in waiting another month or two months, so we came right back.
"I don't know a whole lot about the guys I get in with, but we look up their names and their records and we think they're pretty good fighters. You can learn more from guys like that than guys who are 2-15 and have never had any success."
Combined in-ring time as a pro - 21 minutes.
Combined progress - steady.
"I'm getting used to fighting without the headgear, with the smaller gloves," he said. "It's an adjustment each time out. I'm working on defense, blocking shots, using my vision and seeing everything in the ring.
"A lot of guys who were really successful as amateurs got by with only one dimension and never went anywhere after that, but I feel like I've got it all. As a pro, I can work on my strengths and sit down on punches and wait for openings to develop."
A similarly ambitious plan is in place for the career's next stage, too.
He expects to move from junior middleweight to full-fledged middleweight along the way and has already dipped his toe into both divisions, weighing in at 155 and 157 for the first two bouts before slimming to 152 and 153 for the latter pair.
And some observers are calling for him to step up the level of competition.
"I'm thinking it's two years to get where I want to be. Three years tops," he said. "I hope to fight everyone on the way to getting a belt, but if I don't get them on the way up then I'll defend against everybody. I want to fight the best, wherever they are.
"They're calling for me to fight tougher fighters now, which I see as a sign of respect. They must think I'm pretty good to be expecting me to move up already.
"But it's like college. Just because you ace your SATs doesn't mean you'll go and automatically get an A+ in every class. You have to start over and learn and do it by the book, and that's where I am now."
While not outrageously claiming he's already set for Top 10 competition, Andrade expects to be ready for such a title-challenging graduation within two years - all part of his overall plan to be through with the sport by age 30.
"I've been doing this for 16 years already now, and if I give it 10 years in the pros I'll have done all I wanted to do," he said. "I love the sport, but it's not my whole life, and when it's time to walk away, it'll be time.
"I may go on a little past 30 if theres a big reason to, like a big title fight with a good opponent or a chance at a pay-per-view or something. But I won't be doing it much longer than that for any reason. I have a plan."
* * * * * * * * * *
This weeks title-fight schedule:
WBC super featherweight title - Tijuana, Mexico
Humberto Soto (champion) vs. Antonio Davis (No. 15 contender)
Soto (46-7-2, 29 KO): First title defense; Won three of four in 2008
Davis (26-4, 13 KO): Winless in two career title fights; First fight in Mexico
FitzHitz says: Soto by decision
Vacant WBO bantamweight title - Tijuana, Mexico
Fernando Montiel (No. 1 contender) vs. Diego Oscar Silva (No. 3 contender)
Montiel (38-2-1, 28 KO): Former WBO champ at 115 and 118; Won 14 of 16 title fights
Silva (24-1-3, 12 KO): First career title fight; First fight outside South America
FitzHitz says: Montiel in 10
Vacant WBO super flyweight title - Bayamon, Puerto Rico
Pramuansak Posuwan (No. 1 contender) vs. Jose Lopez (No. 3 contender)
Posuwan (45-1-1, 24 KO): Winner of 16 straight fights; Lost lone fight outside Thailand
Lopez (38-7-2, 32 KO): Unbeaten since 2001 (14-0-1); Winless in four career title fights
FitzHitz says: Lopez by decision
Vacant IBO super featherweight title - Kempton Park, South Africa
Gamaliel Diaz (No. 17 contender) vs. Zolani Marali (No. 19 contender)
Diaz (23-8-2, 10 KO): Three wins in last six fights; Lost WBC title fight at 126
Marali (19-2, 13 KO): Lost IBO title fights at 122 and 130; Won 19 of 20 in South Africa
FitzHitz says: Marali by decision
Last weeks picks: 1-1
Overall picks record: 70-32
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a 20-year veteran of sports journalism, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a periodic contributor to "The Drive with Dave Smith" on KLAA radio (am830klaa.com) and "Cold Hard Sports" on the MVN network (coldhardsports.com). Reach him via e-mail at email@example.com.