Olympian Andrade signs deal with Banner, Star Boxing

Updated: September 8, 2008, 12:35 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Demetrius Andrade, the 2008 U.S. Olympic boxer widely regarded as the No. 1 professional prospect from Team USA, is turning pro.

The 20-year-old from Providence, R.I., signed a multiyear promotional agreement Saturday to be co-promoted by Artie Pelullo's Banner Promotions and Joe DeGuardia's Star Boxing, the promoters told ESPN.com.

The companies will make decisions jointly and each was responsible for a potion of Andrade's undisclosed six-figure signing bonus.

"He is one of the best prospects to come out of the amateurs in years," DeGuardia said. "He was highly sought after and worth a lot of money.

"To me it's like getting Oscar De La Hoya or Roy Jones when they came out. Demetrius doesn't have the gold, but he was the hottest thing in the amateurs and was the world [amateur] champion. But for some cockeyed judging he would be the gold medalist. In three or four years, I see him fighting for the championship of the world."

The 6-foot-1 Andrade, who fought in the 152-pound amateur welterweight division, will campaign as a 154-pound professional junior middleweight.

Andrade's professional debut likely will take place on Pelullo's nationally televised Versus show Oct. 23 in Airway Heights, Wash., on a card headlined by the vacant featherweight title bout between Orlando Salido and Cristobal Cruz.

"I think he's going to be something special," Pelullo said. "I really believe he will be a De La Hoya or a Floyd Mayweather, that kind of star. He has those kind of tools. He's young, he's smart and I like him and his family. I think he will be a big star. He has that confident swagger and the more time I spend with him the more I like him."

Andrade, nicknamed "Boo Boo," is the second member from the U.S. squad to turn professional, doing so a week after bronze medal-winning heavyweight Deontay Wilder signed with manager Shelly Finkel, who said Wilder would sign with Golden Boy Promotions. Andrade will be managed by his father, Paul Andrade, who introduced him to boxing at age 6 and coached him throughout his decorated amateur career.

Andrade entered the Olympics as the reigning world amateur welterweight champion. He also was a two-time U.S. national champion and two-time national Golden Gloves champion.

"He was by far the top amateur out there and I think if there is one guy to look forward to being the cream of the crop of this game three or four years from now, it's Demetrius," DeGuardia said. "I actively pursued him and so did Artie. He was actively pursued by everybody. We competed with everyone in the game and when all is said and done we were fortunate enough to get him."

Although Andrade won a pair of Olympic bouts in Beijing to advance to the quarterfinals, he lost a controversial 11-9 decision to South Korea's Kim Jung-Joo in one of the most questionable results in a tournament littered with debate over the inconsistent scoring. The U.S. left Beijing with just Wilder's bronze, making it the worst performance of a U.S. boxing team in Olympic history.

The U.S. medal count matched the showing of the 1948 team, but its lone medal was a silver.

Dan Rafael covers boxing for ESPN.com.