I was ringside in Las Vegas on a wild Halloween night when Mexican lightweight contender Antonio DeMarco dominated and finally stopped a dangerous Nicaraguan heavy hitter, Jose Alfaro in the tenth round. It was an inspired performance that featured skills, boxing, patience and consistent following of a game plan that was set by DeMarco’s team to win the fight and thus earn an interim WBC belt. I remember, not too long ago, Antonio’s promoter Gary Shaw said: “He has great boxing skills, but it all goes out of the window as soon as he gets hit. The Mexican comes out in him and he starts to brawl.” It did not happen like that against Alfaro. Lanky southpaw DeMarco used his reach, boxed intelligently and moved , avoiding an inside firefight, keeping the shorter, heavy handed Alfaro frustrated and confused, landing his combinations with more regularity as the fight progressed. The knock out came from a body punch in the tenth round when the outcome of the contest was pretty much decided by then.
It was the best performance of his professional career and DeMarco knew instantly that his game was just elevated to the next level. Elated DeMarco exclaimed:” I will fight anybody. Let me fight Valero.” Edwin Valero just happens to be a real WBC champion with a record of twenty six wins with all twenty six ending by way of a knock out. He has stopped the first eighteen of his opponents in the first round. I remember thinking that DeMarco’s wish might have been a bit too emotional, may be a bit premature. But he did express it and everybody heard it. Showtime executives heard it and they liked the idea. In fact they liked it so much that despite Valero’s legal problems with fighting in this country, they decided to make this fight. The WBC twelve round lightweight championship fight is scheduled to take place in Yucatán, Mexico on February, 6th. It will be televised by Showtime Championship boxing. Showtime suits are breaking an eighteen year old ban of not televising any fights from Mexico to broadcast this one.
The closer this fight gets the more excited I become. None of Valero’s opponents have heard the final bell. Valero has dominated all of his foes and did not have to face any adversity, except an occasional cut. Would Demarco be the one to challenge him?
“I have always said that God does certain things for a reason. God put this opportunity at my doorstep and I have to take advantage of it. This is the right time for me for this fight,” DeMarco said. “As far as Valero, when I said it was personal, I meant it as it is a personal challenge for myself. There is a lot of negative people that say that I won’t make it past three rounds in this fight and it is a personal challenge for myself to prove to those people and to myself that I am ready for Valero and much more.”
DeMarco is a skilled boxer puncher with a reach and height advantage in the contest. Would he be able to exploit his advantages and box a disciplined fight and stay out of the harms way for twelve rounds? Or what would happen if he does get hit? Antonio Demarco believes that he has what it takes to challenge the champion.
“I focus on my work. I don’t focus on the work of Edwin Valero. I don’t focus in his power or his record. I focus in my work so that we climb into the ring 100% ready and do the right things,” DeMarco stated as he finished off another training session. “I don’t notice the record of my opponents or on anything that I might be impressed by. I take care of working hard, at 100%, even if it means getting home dead tired. That is all I can do, to focus on my job and not what Edwin Valero is doing.”
Training at home in Mexico, 24 year old DeMarco believes that most fights are won and lost in the gym and therefore he and his team pay special attention to preparation and sparring partners.
“It is very important, the sparring partners help me with my work and they are willing to do anything. The partners I am using right now have the right style for Valero,” said DeMarco of Los Mochis who currently resides in Tijuana, Mexico. “They are pressuring me and they are making me work. I am working on my reflexes and working me hard, at full capacity. I do think that I have the correct sparring for this fight and I do dare to say that my partners are more technically sound than Valero. Valero has power but my sparring partners are more complete boxers.”
Aside from his crushing power Valero has speed and ferocity of a piranha; he is not there to box, he is in the ring to eat you alive and so far he has been one hundred percent successful. Valero is a man of a very few words, but his actions show that he is taking this fight seriously. He moved his training camp to Mexico to prepare for the battle with DeMarco.
“I’m very happy because I am once again in Mexico, I am Venezuelan but when I’m here, I feel that I’m at home,” Valero stated upon arrival. “I hope like always to give a great show and I know that DeMarco, who is the interim champion, has his own style and that is why I am preparing myself so that I can give the best of me and continue to be the WBC absolute champion.”
The stage is set. “I’ve made my wish and I hope it comes true on February 6th,” DeMarco stated as he blew out the candle on the day of his 24th birthday.