Boxing: Demetrius Andrade

ESPN.com boxing 2012 'Other Awards'

December, 26, 2012
12/26/12
1:05
PM ET
There are two kinds of year-end awards: the ones that matter, and the ones you're about to read.

First, an acknowledgement: Boxing is a deadly serious sport, and just for having the guts to step into the ring, every professional fighter deserves the respect of us know-it-alls on press row.

But it is sometimes a writer's job to provide levity and to playfully mock the brave men (and women) whom he wouldn't dare mock to their faces. In that spirit, enjoy these awards recognizing some of boxing's best, worst and just plain weirdest from 2012:

The Fastest Way to Throw Away All of Your Street Cred Award goes to Floyd Mayweather Jr., whose carefully cultivated gangsta image unraveled when "Money May" went to prison and insisted he couldn't survive without bottled water. I'm pretty sure when Suge Knight did time, he didn't complain about the scarcity of Evian. I can't wait until Floyd meets Dewey Bozella and bends Dewey's ear with tales of how tough his two-month stretch was.

The Male Undergarment Trendsetter of the Year Award goes to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who turned heads and burned out retinas with his neon pink briefs on "24/7." It could have been worse, I suppose; at least Chavez never forced HBO to go to the blurcle.

The Most Appropriate Name Award goes to Guy Robb, who was the guy robbed when ref Vic Drakulich called a premature stoppage in his January fight with Joel Diaz. Sure, Robb was behind on points and probably going to lose anyway. But I'm willing to stretch a bit to give him this award, because the alternative involved making a bunch of jokes about Adrien Broner's last name that would have put my editor in an uncomfortable position. Speaking of Mr. Broner ...

The Most Polarizing Figure in Boxing Award was a tight race between Broner and Danny Garcia's father Angel, but in the end, I'm giving it to the Twinkie-tweetin' lightweight sensation. By a nose, it's the "Can Man" over the least popular man in Pakistan.

The Live TV is not for Everyone Award goes to Chuck Giampa, who in his debut appearance as a Showtime analyst in January took us inside the mind of a boxing judge ... revealing it to be an awful lot like going inside Al Capone's vault. Giampa hit for the cycle of on-camera work: The freeze, the repeat-your-line, the four-letter word and the premature cutaway were all represented in his first 10 seconds on the air.

The Wasted Year Award goes to Gary Russell Jr., who, at age 24, followed up his ESPN.com Prospect of the Year campaign by fighting just twice against nondescript opposition. If Russell doesn't show up to collect his award (a realistic possibility, given his recent disinclination toward public appearances), we'll instead give it to his Olympic teammate Demetrius Andrade, in recognition of his racking up five rounds of professional experience this year as a fellow 24-year-old.

The Best Performance of a Bette Midler Song by Two Men About to Fight Each Other Award goes to Kevin Johnson and Tyson Fury, who delivered a stirring piano-and-vocals rendition of "Wind Beneath My Wings" in December. Full-on "Beaches" remake, anyone?

The Best Story About Biting out Another Dude's Eye Award goes to Freddie Roach, as revealed on the outstanding HBO documentary series "On Freddie Roach." Meanwhile, the Worst Investigative Journalism Award goes to the production team behind "On Freddie Roach." Freddie tells this amazing and gruesome story about getting jumped and biting out the eyeball of one of his attackers, a one-eyed man happens to work at his gym and appears regularly on the show ... and we don't get any follow-up questions?

The Most Inspiring Fighter Award (hey, nobody said we couldn't mix in a serious category or two) goes to Paul Williams, who handled his motorcycle crash and subsequent partial paralysis with more positivity than I ever would have thought possible. A runner-up nod to Orlando Cruz, who this year became the first openly gay active pro boxer.

The You Might Want to Stick to Promoting Award goes to 50 Cent, for the quality of his rapping during Yuriorkis Gamboa's ring entrance in December.

The Worst Refereeing Award goes to Luis Pabon, who simply wouldn't get out of the way in February's Marco Huck-Alexander Povetkin heavyweight fight and almost certainly cost Huck a knockout win as a result. Pabon proved to be the fight game's equivalent of a helicopter parent, always hovering, always looking to break clinches before they even happened. Pabon even got clocked by an errant punch at one point -- which is the sort of thing that happens when a ref inserts himself while the fighters are actively attempting to, you know, fight.

The Hottest Twitter Trending Spectacles of the Year Award goes to Jim Lampley's tortoise-shell frames. Better luck next year, Jim Lampley's matte black frames and Jim Lampley's wire frames.

The Please do Your Business Off TV From Now on Award goes to Miguel Vazquez, who put two audiences to sleep in a six-week span late in the year with his action-free decision wins over Marvin Quintero and Mercito Gesta. Vazquez is a skillful fighter who has every right to make a living in the ring. I just don't want to know about it until the fight is over and the result is posted somewhere on the Internet.

The Least Welcome Fight of the Year winner is a toss-up between Christy Martin-Mia St. John II and Wladimir Klitschko-Jean-Marc Mormeck. In the end, I lean toward Klitschko-Mormeck because it lacked the potential for a wardrobe malfunction from a former "Playboy" cover girl.

The Chin of the Year Award would have gone to Mariusz Wach for the beating he endured from Klitschko, but because Wach's performance was tainted by a positive drug test, I'm instead giving this one to all the loyal boxing fans who took it on the chin from the sport's feuding, counterprogramming power brokers on Sept. 15. The fans who support this sport take enough abuse week in and week out without being forced to miss either a Chavez fight or a Canelo Alvarez fight because rival promoters and rival networks need to have their diva standoffs. Hopefully, in 2013 more of the powers that be will consider what's best for the fans and the Chin of the Year Award can be bestowed on an actual fighter.
Among fans of all sports, I believe it behooves fight fans in particular to do their homework on a boxer, get into his backstory a bit, before weighing in on his talent or character.

Too often, I'm quick to judge this guy for coming in out of shape or that guy for not trying hard to rise off the canvas after being knocked down. A goodly percentage of the time, those fighters I've dissed or dismissed, or just critiqued a bit too hard from the comfort and safety of my sofa, have been working two or three jobs and sneaking in gym time when they can, while keeping hope alive that one day they'll topple that golden boy, get that title shot and win it, and live happily ever after.

Saturday night, when 99 percent of fight fans will be fixated on the goings-on in Las Vegas, Rudy Cisneros, a 30-year-old Chicago boxer, will try to topple his own golden boy foe, Demetrius Andrade, 24, at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. The fighters will headline a Saturday edition of "Friday Night Fights," which was put together at the last minute after promoter Golden Boy promised ESPN a headline bout featuring Daniel Ponce De Leon, and then pulled it, because it finalized a deal with Fox Sports Media Group.

Cisneros is a heavy underdog, to be sure. And if the long and lean Andrade (16-0, 11 KOs), a 2008 U.S. Olympian living in Rhode Island, does what many expect and stops Cisneros (12-3-1 NC, 11 KOs) inside 10 rounds of their junior middleweight bout, all of us should note for the record that Cisneros works two jobs or more at a time to keep his wife, three kids and himself afloat financially. He works delivering groceries for Peapod, and construction jobs when he finds them, and has also worked as a baggage handler at O'Hare Airport, his trainer George Hernandez tells us.

"Hey, it's the business of boxing," said Hernandez, who maintains that Cisneros no doubt has the pop to drop and stop Andrade if he catches him. "It's why everyone has to be ready all the time. We got word for this fight, like, three weeks ago. Andrade's people are looking for wins, trying to catch people sleeping. But it's up to Rudy to change the cards he's been dealt."

In other words, no, it's not ideal to begin training at 7 p.m. when you were up for work at 4 a.m., but it is what it is.

"It's what he wants to do," Hernandez said of Cisneros. "This is boxing, not the NFL. Only a select few have people excited about them. Others out there, nobody is interested in them. They are opponents."

Cisneros was on Season 2 of "The Contender," but he washed out early and was stuck in a Contender contract, Hernandez said, for too long. Cisneros has described himself as a "stalker" type in the ring, but we shall see how long that style lasts against the 6-foot-1 lefty Andrade, who has to know that Cisneros hasn't fought in a year and was stopped in Round 7 in his most recent outing, against Jonathan Gonzalez.

"Rudy has a dream to knock Demetrius out, get another payday," Hernadez said. "The Cotto-Mayweather fight might not be as exciting as Rudy's fight, or a fight involving a kid making $800. This is why this game of boxing is so unfair. But everyone has that hope and that dream, like the person who wants to win the $200 million Lotto. Everyone has the right to dream."

It appears on paper, Hernandez admits, that Andrade will pad his record, but the trainer ticks off a bunch of upsets in the past decade that remind us that paper is just paper. The ring is the thing.

"Demetrius hasn't tasted defeat," Hernandez said. "If he keeps boxing, he will taste defeat. One punch can change things. He'll taste defeat against Cisneros if he gets caught. But if I tell you we're gonna destroy this crafty lefty, I'd be lying. We know this is the toughest fight of Rudy's career. But we wouldn't be on our way to Connecticut if we didn't think this kid couldn't do it."
His original foe for "Friday Night Fights" backed out Monday, the replacement foe backed out Tuesday, and the replacement's replacement finally was cemented on Wednesday afternoon, two days before Demetrius Andrade was to glove up at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. But if the Rhode Island-based junior middleweight was experiencing undue stress or annoyance, he didn't sound like it in a Wednesday night phone call with ESPN.com.

Andrade, the 23-year-old southpaw and 2008 U.S. Olympian, betrayed only the tiniest hint of dissatisfaction when he admitted he would have liked it if original opponent Derek "Pooh" Ennis (23-3-1, 13 KOs) hadn't pulled himself from the fight on Monday, citing a high fever.

"Was Ennis really sick?" Andrade asked rhetorically. "There were times before my fights I had a fever. A doctor's note would've been nice. He could've waited til Tuesday or Wednesday to see if he felt better. But I was gonna beat his a-- regardless."

Andrade (15-0, 10 KOs), who last fought in September, beating Saul Duran via stoppage in the third round, took issue with the chatter of Philadelphia's Ennis, which surfaced on GFL.TV three weeks ago. "I'm just looking at this as another fight," Ennis said. "But as soon as I beat him, I'm right back on top."

Said Andrade: "Pooh was smack-talking, saying he'd use me as a springboard. I'm frustrated it fell through."

Terrance Cauthen (36-7, 9 KOs) was the fill-in -- for a hot minute, anyway -- but after verbally agreeing to the Andrade scrap, the 35-year-old from Trenton, N.J., failed to sign a contract. The reason for his early Wednesday swerve became apparent Wednesday night, when it was leaked that he will fight Thomas Dulorme on "ShoBox" on Feb. 17. Or maybe not: Aris Ambriz was announced as Dulorme's foe on Thursday afternoon. (Very fluid, this business biz; Ron Katz, the matchmaker for the FNF show, would get the fattest check of anyone working the show at Mohegan, if this world were nothing but fair.)

So Angel "Toro" Hernandez, a 36-year-old Chicagoan, will fill the slot against Andrade -- or so we must assume for the time being. The Mexican-born hitter has a 30-10 record and has lost his past three, against Peter Manfredo Jr. (TKO10), Osumanu Adama (UD12) and Joey Hernandez (DQ8) in March. Event promoter Joe DeGuardia insists Hernandez will not be a steamroller special for Andrade.

"We're very fortunate to find a solid veteran like Angel Hernandez as a late replacement," DeGuardia said. "He's been in with some of the best and beaten the likes of Juan Carlos Candelo, Frankie Randall, James McGirt, Larry Marks and Antwun Echols. We expect him to be a solid test for Demetrius."

Andrade is transferring some of his Ennis ire, it seems, to Hernandez. "I feel dissed he took the fight," he said. "Money talks. He took the fight on too short notice. I have to show him he shouldn't have taken it."

Andrade said he watched a bit of video on the late sub and sounds chill about the musical chairs situation, even though he was hustling early Wednesday to bone up on tactics versus a lefty (Cauthen).

"Is there a preferred style I like to fight?" he said. "I've seen them all, I can handle them all."

He seems to have escaped the Patriots Funk, the malaise felt by so many in the New England area after the New York Giants stunned Patriot Nation in the Super Bowl.

"I'm going to go in there, showcase my talent, do what we've been working on. The light's on me, I'm going to shine," Andrade said. "The Patriots didn't do, but I'm gonna do it."

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