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US amateur boxing star Demetrius Andrade in own class

The ultimate compliment in boxing is for opponents to try just about anything to take a star such as Demetrius "Boo Boo" Andrade out of his game. Andrade, 19, has dominated the 152-pound weight class in the United States the past two years to the point now that his foes have taken extreme measures, to say the least, against him in the ring.

"All of my opponents have been trying to man-handle me," Andrade explained. "They've used elbows, even thrown me, to try and take me out of my game. But I have a good corner and my coaches - David Keefe and my father (Paul) - talk to me about keeping my patience and not letting all of that stuff get to me."

Andrade, the No. 1 rated welterweight in the U.S., is the two-time U.S. National Championships and National Golden Gloves champion having recently beaten Charles Hatley in the gold-medal match of The Gloves. The 6-0 southpaw Andrade is a tremendous defensive boxer who uses his long reach to his advantage, peppering opponents with a variety of scoring punches from seeming all angles.

"Last year was easier for me in the Golden Gloves Tournament because I was able to stay in the pocket and box," Demetrius noted. "This year my opponents were running around and throwing elbows. At times it was more like the UFC."

Up next for "Boo Boo" is the US National Championships, June 1-9, in Colorado Springs, where he'll go for his third straight gold in this prestigious tournament. Andrade is seeded into the quarterfinals and one win automatically qualifies him for the US Box-Offs to determine the roster for Team USA in the 2008 Olympics in China. Andrade has already beaten his toughest competition in the U.S. for a berth on Team USA at 152 pounds having beaten Hatley and Keith Thurman twice and Boyd Melson once.

Cox Sports Network will air Andrade's semifinal match in the National Golden Gloves Tournament against Javonn Barnes on June 1 (7 PM) and June 9 (9:30 PM), as well as his championship bout versus Hatley on June 22 (7 PM) and June 30 (7:30 PM).

"Some things happen overseas that make it difficult for Americans to win gold medals," Andrade spoke about fighting in the Pan-Am Games. "We'll be fighting in South America and they score high for their own. I'll beat some of the same guys I'll probably face in the Olympics, but I won't show them it all at the Pan-Am Games. They'll see it all at the Olympics. I've been thinking about the Olympics since I was 10. It's always been my goal. I'm starting to feel some of the pressure now, but I just focus on staying in top shape and listening to my coaches."

Andrade's principal rival, Cuban Erislandi Lara, beat Demetrious in their only meeting, 9-4. Russians Ruslan Khairov and Andrey Balanov are to other major threats in the world's 152-pound division.

Andrade, who boxes out of 401 Gym in Cranston, decided to concentrate on his boxing career rather than attend college at this stage of his young life. His Olympic dream and a potentially lucrative pro career have only temporarily derailed his educational plans. He's already in a class of his own.

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