Five years ago, Demetrius Andrade was the best hope for the 2008 U.S. Olympic boxing team. He was fast, slick and had the kind of style that could adapt to the zany scoring system that was in place at the time.
But Andrade lost a disputed decision in his quarterfinal match and left Beijing with nothing but a broken heart.
"You work all of your life to get an Olympic medal, and when you feel it's taken away unfairly, it hurts, but that's the past and I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like to dwell on what happened in the past," Andrade said.
That's because he has a chance on Saturday to make his future bright. He'll meet Vanes Martirosyan in the opener of an HBO tripleheader in Corpus Christi, Texas, in a battle of unbeatens going after the vacant WBO super welterweight title.
Andrade, 25, is 19-0 with 13 knockouts and knows that winning a title in the talent- and big-name rich 154-pound division will put him into position for some very well-paying and significant bouts.
Floyd Mayweather holds two of the division's four major belts. But 154 pounds is also home to prominent fighters such as Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, IBF champion Carlos Molina, Austin Trout, Erislandy Lara, and Alfredo Angulo.
But Andrade is veteran enough to know that he can't concern himself in the least with those kinds of fighters, or the rewards that may come by meeting them, if he doesn't beat Martirosyan.
And though Martirosyan hasn't developed a big name, he's 32-0-1 with 21 knockouts and has rarely been in trouble.
"Obviously he is a good fighter or he wouldn't be where he is," Andrade said of Martirosyan. "I understand that. But I have to do what I've been doing. If I do that, I believe things will go my way.
"There is no one way to beat this guy. I have to establish my jab, but I can control the fight with other things if I have to. I feel like I've got the style to do this."
Andrade hasn't faced a lot of elite talent as a pro, though he has amateur wins over the likes of Trout, Daniel Jacobs, Fernando Guerrero and Keith Thurman.
He began to box when he was 6 and long dreamed of this day. He's fighting on HBO for the first time, pursuing a world title belt that he used to go to sleep thinking about wrapping around his waist. Now that his opportunity has come, he vows he won't let it slip through his fingers.
"This is the start of some big things in my career and in my life," Andrade said. "This is a coming-out party for me. After I win this, the door is kicked down and there are a lot of big names out there I can't wait to beat up."