Saturday, August 16, 2008

Demetrius Andrade To Fight South Korea's Kim Jung-joo On Sunday

Here's the latest on Demetrius Andrade, via the Providence Journal :

The last time Demetrius Andrade fought Andrey Balanov of Russia, the situation was far different.

It was 2005. Andrade, weeks away from his 17th birthday, was in Russia on his first international trip. Balanov was 28 and an experienced world boxer.

"He was the first person I ever fought over, maybe, [the age of] 22," Andrade said. "I was real nervous. I'm only 16, I've got no power, I can't hold the guy. I [just] went in there and did my thing."

"His thing" was a 35-17 loss.

"But I learned from it," Andrade said, "and it got me to where I am today."

Where he is today is far different. Andrade is now 20, the world amateur welterweight champion, and is one of the shining stars of the U.S. Olympic boxing team. He proved just how far he's come with a dominating 14-3 victory over Balanov in the quarterfinals on Thursday night in Beijing (Thursday morning Eastern time).

Balanov actually scored only one point in the match; he was awarded the other two when Andrade was penalized for ducking. Andrade's faster, more accurate punches overpowered Balanov, whose strategy -- based, seemingly, on a knowledge of Andrade's style -- was to try and trade blows with Andrade in the center of the ring at the beginning of the fight.

"I can't do cheap, easy punches," said Andrade. "I've got to pick my punches."

The Providence native led 2-0 after the first round, but then took control of the fight in the second round and cruised to the victory, which came easier than his 11-9 win over Kakhaber Jvania of Georgia in the first round on Sunday.

"The first fight was rough, but I'm very pleased with this one," said Andrade. "I worked on my strength and conditioning [between fights]. ... I was finding my range, my footwork was nice and I felt good out there."

With the win, he became the first American boxer to reach the quarterfinals. He'll fight again Sunday morning Eastern time at 8:46 a.m. against South Korea's Kim Jung-joo.

Of the American boxers still alive in the tournament, he has, perhaps, the best shot at a gold medal.

"Maybe I'm the favorite, but I don't pay attention to that," said Andrade. "We've got five [American] guys left [in the tournament], everyone on the team can do it, [we'll] just go out there and do our best."

He's also the favorite of the Chinese crowds ... but that could be because they think he's Kobe Bryant. Andrade bears only a passing resemblance to the international basketball star, but the Chinese -- apparently confusing him for Bryant -- mobbed him when he stepped onto the concourse at the boxing venue. The crowds eventually backed up the tunnel and into the arena before a squadron of security people, some with flashing lights and warning claxons, formed a protective semi-circle around Andrade.

Andrade finds it all amusing.

"It's happened a couple of times before," he said.

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