by Fox Doucette
I remember the moment I turned on Demetrius Andrade. It was after the fifth round of his six-round unanimous decision win over Geoffrey Spruiell on Friday Night Fights April 2, 2010. Andrade (12-0, 8 KO), touted as an up-and-coming potential champion at junior middle or middleweight, the heir apparent to the Sergio Martinez and Paul Williams’ of the world, the pride of Providence, Rhode Island, was getting all he could handle from a hand-picked opponent who brought an 8-8 record into the fight.
Demetrius turned to his father and trainer Paul Andrade and said, with national television cameras right up in his mug, “Tell me I’m the best.” What’s worse is that his father obliged. Any trainer worth his salt would’ve said something to the effect of (and I’m cleaning this up for language) “If you’re so damn good, then knock this tomato can out.” The fact that a guy like Spruiell could not only hang around but even give a spirited effort in the sixth round was the first sign that maybe we weren’t looking at the Next Big Thing, but rather just another puffed-up unbeaten building a record on the backs of a string of hobos.
Andrade fights again tomorrow night on ESPN2. He’s in there against Omar Bell, an 8-1 (5 KO) journeyman who built up his record in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida and who got knocked out in the first round by up-and-coming welterweight Keith Thurman back in 2008. By all accounts, Bell is yet another hand-picked opponent with yet another record that looks better on paper than it will look in the ring (see also Alberto Herrera, Chris Chatman, and Tony Hirsch for more examples of this kind of artificial strength-of-schedule boost on Andrade’s record.)
I’ve watched all of Andrade’s ESPN appearances. And I have to wonder—who’s calling in favors at ESPN to keep this guy not only fighting on the air, but touted as a prospect? He hasn’t beaten anyone of note. His style is excruciatingly boring to watch. He has the kind of smug undeservedly full of himself attitude that suggests he’s all hat and no cattle. And speaking strictly as a fan, I always root for the underdog in his fights to knock his head off.
I’m calling out the ESPN guys here. Joe, Teddy, BK, I know you care about the sport. I know you want to see the best fighters put into the best matchups. Mr. Atlas, you especially have a reputation for honesty and integrity that makes you the best boxing commentator in the sport today. You even pointed out back in January, when Andrade fought Alberto Herrera on the co-feature of the FNF season debut, that he needed a change of trainer or else needed to knuckle down and dedicate himself to the advancement of his career rather than telling everyone in earshot how great he thinks he is.
So here’s my challenge to you. Friday night, when you’re setting this fight up for your fans, and when you’re talking about Demetrius Andrade and telling his story, I want to hear you flat-out say that if Andrade does not knock out Omar Bell in spectacular fashion, preferably in the first two rounds, that we will dismiss him as a prospect, that ESPN will stop shoving this guy down the throats of the audience in televised co-features, and that he can fight off air until he proves that he’s worth all of our time. I know that you know boxing, Teddy. Let’s see that courage of your conviction on-air. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll see Demetrius Andrade do what his hype machine insists he’s capable of—act like a prospect, not like a guy who just wants to collect a paycheck and puff up his record.
Fox Doucette covers Friday Night Fights for The Boxing Tribune. He can also be found during the broadcast on the ESPN Friday Night Fights Facebook page. Fan mail, hate mail, and offers by ESPN to bring Fox alongside BK in the studio can be sent to email@example.com.