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Andrade ready for first real test

Talented but untested junior middleweight Demetrius Andrade (18-0, 13 KOs) makes his first start for respected trainer Virgil Hunter when he faces aggressive-minded former world title challenger Freddy Hernandez (30-3, 20 KOs), of Lynwood, Calif., in the 10-round main event on Friday at the Paramount Theater in Huntington, N.Y. Hunter and Andrade, a world-ranked, 6-foot-1, 24-year-old southpaw, have been together for only a couple of months. “All coaches get their fair share of calls, and I get some, too,” Hunter said. “Demetrius called me and we started talking. I’d been aware of him because he was an Olympian and knew he was a good kid, but once we met I was most definitely very pleased to make his acquaintance. I enjoy working with him. Demetrius’ dad did a terrific job with him. He’s a great kid with a great personality and he wants to succeed. I think he has unlimited potential and everything it takes to not only be a future champion but an ambassador for the sport. There’s really a lot of upside to Demetrius. It’s just a matter of time.”

A former international amateur standout – Andrade (pronounced “Ann-Drade”) was the 2007 World Championships gold medalist at 152 pounds and represented the United States in the 2008 Olympic Games – continues to acclimate himself to the new surroundings in northern California.

“I’ve been training at Virgil’s private gym in Hayward, Calif.,” said Andrade, who owns amateur victories over the likes of current world champion Austin Trout and prospects such as Keith Thurmond, Danny Jacobs, Fernando Guerrero, Jack Culcay and Charles Hatley. “I knew Virgil from him being in the amateur program and I just reached out to him. He’s a stand-up guy and everything’s going smoothly. We’re just taking it one step at a time, just getting in shape for this fight.”

Andrade has steadily ascended in the rankings since turning pro in October 2008. He’s currently rated #3 in the IBF and WBO and #8 in the WBC. He’s been carefully matched throughout his four-year career but owns a couple of noteworthy victories. He won his three fights in 2012 by knockout inside two rounds, including a second-round TKO over Alexis Hlores in his last start on Sept. 12.

But Hunter and ShoBox expert analyst and boxing historian Steve Farhood agree that Hernandez will be the toughest foe to date for Andrade, who’ll be making his ShoBox debut. “On paper this should be his toughest challenge, when you consider the competition the other guy has fought,” Hunter said.

Said Farhood, “Demetrius Andrade, along with Gary Russell Jr., was chosen as Most Likely To Succeed from the 2008 U.S. Olympic team. On ShoBox, he’s finally making that next step that will vaunt him from prospect to contender.

“Hernandez is a legit tough guy who’s fought the very best. This is a real test for Andrade, a major step up. Andrade’s been criticized for the level of his opposition, but part of that criticism stems from how easily he’s beaten the fighters put in front of him.

“Hernandez will bring it, so if Andrade’s as good as we think he is, he’ll not only win, but shine.”

Offered Andrade, an athletic, versatile boxer with good skills and movement: “Freddy Hernandez is a great fighter, and we’re going to put on a great show.”

Hernandez fought four former world champions in a row – DeMarcus “Chop Chop” Corley, Mike Anchondo, Andre Berto and Luis Collazo — between February 2010 and October 2011. “El Riel” went 3-1, winning the final fight of the four-bagger with an exciting 10-round unanimous decision over southpaw Luis Collazo on Oct. 15, 2011.

The brother-in-law of current WBC featherweight kingpin Daniel “Ponce” De Leon, Hernandez, 33, lost his most recent outing to WBC No. 1 contender Erislandy Lara on a 10-round decision on June 20, 2012. The scores in a rough fight were 95-94, 98-91 and 99-90.

“I’m not much of a talker outside of the ring, I’d rather just let my fight inside do the talking for me,” said Hernandez, a boxer-puncher who may come out ultra-aggressive against the less-experienced Andrade.

The bout can be seen on Showtime.




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