NEW YORK – One of the top prospects in boxing, the talented but untested Demetrius Andrade (18-0, 13 KOs), of Providence, R.I., 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 junior middleweight main event on ShoBox: The New Generation doubleheader this Friday, Jan. 25, live on SHOWTIME (10 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast).
In a matchup of once-beaten junior welterweights in the 10-round co-feature at Paramount Theater in Huntington, N.Y., Raymond “Tito” Serrano (18-1, 8 KOs), of Philadelphia, meets Emmanuel “Tranzforma” Taylor (15-1, 10 KOs), of Edgewood, Md. The event is promoted by Star Boxing and Banner Promotions.
Hunter, the Boxing Writers Association of America 2011 Trainer of the Year, 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 Thurmon, 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 No. 3 in the IBF and WBO and No. 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.
Serrano, a 5-foot-8, 25-year-old, will be fighting for the first time since hooking up with trainer Barry Hunter, who also handles Lamont and Anthony Peterson. It is his first start since a devastating fifth-round knockout loss to Karim Mayfield in a pick ‘em bout on May 18, 2012, that ended with chaos in Serrano’s corner. World-ranked going in, he’d won all 18 of his fights since going pro in October 2007.
“I've been with Barry since about July,’’ said Serrano, an accomplished amateur and ambidextrous boxer-puncher who likes to work the body. “After I fought Mayfield, I took some time off and then I got with Barry. I train at his gym and spar with the Petersons. It's definitely stepped up my level of training. I've worked hard and feel it’s made me a stronger fighter.
"I haven't seen any of Taylor's fights, but I remember him from the amateur days. The guys in the gym know him from the amateurs and they're helping me prepare. I'm looking forward to starting the year off right. I learned from my mistakes. I want to accomplish my goal, and become champion of the world.”
Looking back at the Mayfield defeat, Serrano said, “I was surprised how easy it was for me to hit him. He's strong. He fought a good fight. He caught me with a good shot. I'll be back."
Taylor hails from a family of fighters. He was a top amateur before turning pro in March 2009. After opening with 14 consecutive victories, the 5-foot-7½-inch, 22-year-old boxer-puncher came up on the wrong end of a split eight-round decision to Prenice Brewer on Nov. 10, 2011. He regained his winning ways 11 months later when, in his lone bout since losing, won a six-round majority decision over George Dosa on Oct. 12, 2012. Taylor triumphed by the scores of 60-54, 58-56 and 57-57.
“I've been getting ready for this fight in Baltimore since Dec. 1,’’ he said. “I’ve worked hard in the gym and I’m ready to show what I’ve got. I’ve got a lot of styles. I can box or bang, but basically I usually box. It depends on the other fighter.
"I'm familiar with Serrano. I know him from the amateurs. He was in my region, so we fought in the same tournaments but he was a little older than me. He's a good fighter, a good boxer. I give him credit. But absolutely, I'm going to win the fight. I'm just going to use my jab and pressure, and that's what is going to win me the fight."
Tickets, priced at $50, $100 and $150, are available through Ticketmaster online www.Ticketmaster.com or phone (800) 745-3000, through The Paramount Box Office (631) 673-7300, the Star Boxing Office (718) 823-2000 or on their website, www.StarBoxing.com. Doors on fight night will open at 7 p.m. ET with the first bell at 8 p.m.
Barry Tompkins will call the ShoBox action from ringside with Farhood and former World Champion Raul Marquez serving as expert analysts. The executive producer is Gordon Hall with Richard Gaughan producing and Rick Phillips directing.