As Demetrius Andradewatched Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s WBC middleweight title defense against Marco Antonio Rubio on television this weekend from training camp, the 2008 U.S. Olympian was overcome with the feeling that he belonged in that spotlight.
The 23-year-old junior middleweight prospect is two years younger than Chavez and only has a third of the pro bouts the son of the Mexican legend has, but what he saw on the HBO telecast from San Antonio did not impress him.
“I wouldn’t mind moving up to 160 (pounds) to fight him,” said the undefeated southpaw. “I’m not saying he’s not a good fighter, I just dont think he’ll be a problem for me.”
Andrade (15-0, 10 knockouts), who hails from Providence, Rhode Island, has designs on hunting boxing’s big game in the near future. The brash speedster is rated in the top 15 by all four major sanctioning bodies, and when he speaks of besieging the division’s elite, it doesn’t sound like he’s talking about a long-term plan.
But before Andrade can dream of those opportunities, he must first get past the capable Derek “Pooh” Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KOs) on Friday at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn.
Andrade concedes that he knows very little about the 31-year-old Philadelphia native other than that, like most of his opponents, he is right-handed. Andrade’s confidence, he says, comes from the fact that he has taken his training regimen to the next level in recent months.
After scoring his first standout victory with a decision win over tough spoiler Grady Brewer last August, Andrade dusted off tough trialhorse Saul Duran in three rounds just a month later before making a decision that he and his team say was a long time coming.
As the mercury began to drop in New England, “Boo Boo” packed his bags and set up camp in Orlando, Fla.
“I think that was the best thing we could have done,” said trainer Rob Valle, who is in his fourth fight as Andrade’s head trainer after replacing Andrade’s father. “It’s not easy when you’re cutting weight and you have to run in 40 degree weather.”
Being able to do road work outside instead of indoors on a treadmill due to the cold also brings added motivation that Valle believes will drive Andrade to strive for higher plateaus.
“When you’re running in Miami by mansions, or a Ferrari drives by you that’s motivational,” said Valle.
Relocating to the much warmer Central Florida locale means that Andrade no longer has to dry out in a sauna to make 154 pounds. In fact, he claims he and his 6-foot-1 frame have been close to weight for the last two weeks.
In past training camps, Andrade would have to drive down to New York and New Jersey to find sparring, but with a training camp of his own he has been able to bring down prospects Brad Solomon and Karl Dargan as full-time sparring partners. That means no longer having to negotiate around the schedules of others for sparring.
In Ennis, Andrade is matched with a quick, well-schooled boxer-puncher who has been solid for the most part, save for his inconsistent chin betraying him in three fights that have ended in early, unexpected knockout defeats. Ennis, whose signature win was a majority decision victory over cross-town rival Gabriel Rosado in 2010, was regarded as a contender prior to his second-round knockout loss to Giorbis Barthelemy a year ago and now finds himself as “the opponent” to Andrade.
“I look at it like this: everything he can do, we can do better,” said Valle of the matchup. “He’s fast, but ‘Boo Boo’ is faster. He’s strong, but Demetrius is stronger. He can box, but Demetrius boxes better.
“We just have to establish our jab. He’ s the shorter guy (Ennis is five inches shorter), he has to deal with the length of ‘Boo Boo’. In the little bit of tape I’ve seen, (Ennis) doesn’t fight inside too much. If he keeps it outside, that plays to our hand.”
Ed Farris, who advises Andrade, says that his promoters Banner Promotions and Star Boxing expect Andrade to get a showcase fight by the end of the year, provided that he gets through Ennis. Farris says that someone like Carlos Molina, who faces James Kirkland next month, would show the world whether Andrade is deserving of a major fight with the likes of WBC titleholder Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, whom he points to as their dream matchup.
“I think with Demetrius winning the World Amateur Championships (in 2007), everyone has high expectations of him,” said Farris. “He feels every time he’s out there he has to prove something. We felt confident that Demetrius is ready for almost everybody out there, but I would feel better if he had more rounds under his belt.”
Andrade knows that, unlike Ennis, time is not his enemy, and that the big opportunities he wants will come in due time.
“Of course the goal is one day to be on HBO, but right now we have to worry about ESPN,” said Andrade.
Photo / Emily Harney-Fightwireimages.com
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News and the Filipino Reporter newspaper in New York City. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. An archive of his work can be found at www.ryansongalia.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.