This time last year, junior middleweight prospect Demetrius Andrade was in a now more familiar spot, as a co-feature on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, taking on journeyman Bernardo Guereca.
Less than two minutes into the bout, Andrade sent Guereca staggering into the middle of the ring with a combination to the body, backed up and finished him right a right hook to the temple. The camera zoomed in on the Rhode Island native as he soaked in another triumph, and showed a rather composed look on the face of the victor.
No turnbuckle leaps, not even a fist pump.
“I’ve grown up fighting my whole life, and we used to go in week long tournaments. So if after a couple fights, you’re like ‘yeah, yeah! Ha ha!’, you won’t wind up winning the whole tournament,” said Andrade, a 2008 US Olympian. “At the end of the day, I know it’s just one fight, and we ain’t there yet.”
The lack of enthusiasm, combined with commentator Teddy Atlas’ disappointment with Guereca’s effort, caused pundits to suggest Andrade was being moved too slowly.
“I’m satisfied with where I’m at right now,” said Andrade, who will face Alberto Herrera (7-1-1, 5 KO) on this Friday’s edition of Friday Night Fights.
Barely a three-year pro, Andrade (11-0, 8 KO) shed the headgear just months after losing in the Olympic quarter finals to Kazakhstan’s Nurlan Merimanov. Since his first two professional contests in October and November of 2008, Andrade has stepped through the ropes nine times.
And while the victories may have come easily for the super-talented Andrade, his promoter Artie Pelullo insists that it doesn’t mean his development needs to be stunted.
“I’ve got shoes older than him,” said Pelullo of his 22-year old prize. “He’s doing just good. He’s in a fight where he has to fight to win, and that’s good. But is he in a fight he’s supposed to win? Yes, he is. But is he fighting a guy who’s going to give him a hell of a fight that he could lose? Yes, he is.”
Pelullo, who also handles WBO middleweight titlist Dmitry Pirog, has seen first hand the perils of anxious matchmaking.
“Look what they did with Danny Jacobs. No disrespect to Golden Boy, but they had no idea how good (Dmitry) Pirog was. That was a very devestating blow to his career,” said Pelullo of Pirog’s 5th round knockout of Jacobs in July of 2010. “It’s okay to take your time with guys.”
To the promoter’s credit, Andrade seems to be impressing the right people in the sport of boxing. ESPN.com named him among their top 25 prospects, and with a goal of six televised fights in 2011, he could be in front of a cable audience — both basic and premium — once every two months.
“Every time I talk to HBO about one of my other fighters — and you can ask (HBO Sports exec) Kery Davis this — at the end of every conversation, all he ever says is we’re waiting for Demetrius Andrade,” said Pelullo.
“They believe he’s a big star to come.”