DeMarco still humble
Story & photo by Felipe Leon
As you walk thru glass double doors into the always hot and humid room of the CREA gym in Tijuana, Mexico, you will see dozens of young practitioners of the fistic arts crowd around the cramped room as they work on different bags, shadowbox or jump rope.
The room comes to a halt as soon as current NABO lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco (21-1-1, 15KO), who takes on Anges Adjaho this Saturday night in a WBC lightweight eliminator, steps in between the ropes of the make shift ring for his daily sparring session.
The fact that only a couple of years ago, DeMarco was one of the many in the gym. The fact doesn’t escape the 23-year-old.
"The truth is that it gives me a great motivation to keep going forward because this gym here, it is like a family, we are very respectful of each other and we all treat each other the same,” the Los Mochis, Mexico, native states.
“I feel like any other fighter here in the gym, I train as hard as before, if not harder, I feel like any other fighter that is part of this gym. Humility is what helps to make you great and the consistency in the gym, being the person you have always been is what is going to help me be greater than a world champion.”
DeMarco is well on is way in fulfilling his dream of wearing a coveted world title around his waist, a taste which he got in his last fight as he stopped Almazbek “Kid Diamond” Raiymkulov in nine rounds to capture the vacant NABO strap against his toughest opponent to date.
“I learned a lot from that fight. In every fight we try to learn something so that in our next fight so that we can look better and fix any errors that we might have had,” the father of one says. “What I can say is that I earned more experience with that fight, I feel confident climbing into the ring since that fight because I feel that I belong at this level and on my way to a world title.”
Now, DeMarco goes against another once beaten fighter in Adjaho (25-1, 14KO) of Geneva, NY, by way of the small West African country Benin in the semi main event of the Vic Darchinyan-Joseph Agbeko IBF bantamweight title bout from the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. A riddle that is much more complicated that “Kid Diamond” since DeMarco, who resides in Tijuana, knows hardly anything about his next opponent.
“We know that he is a strong fighter, very strong. He is very solid and that he is very tall, that is all we know about him. At this level, we don’t have the luxury of being picky if we want to get to a higher level and we must go through this and a lot more to get to where we need to go.”
DeMarco has found himself in the same situation before as he made his bones up the pro ranks fighting mostly in his adoptive hometown of Tijuana and in central California where his opponents would get bused in only days before.
“We have always gone against the current, we have always heard all the negativity, that we are not going to win, ‘that you are not going to make it’ and we have always proven that we can,” DeMarco states confidently. “With the fact that my team, my corner, has confidence in me, that is enough for me. I trust the work that we have done and my conditioning and it doesn’t really matter who I face, if he is a orthodox or a southpaw, that we know who he is or not. We are always prepared and ready to put on a good fight so that the audience leaves satisfied.”
Despite that DeMarco has ventured out of his comfort zone of the west coast occasionally, Antonio is in for his longest trek of his career as he travels clear against the continent to face off Adjaho.
“We have fought in different places, I have fought in New Haven, Tacoma and we have felt good, whether it be here or away. I was a little worried and I was telling Don Romulo that there wasn’t going to be a lot of Mexicans over there,” DeMarco states holding back laughter. ‘That does not matter because we are going with a positive attitude and knowing what we want to do. This is another great opportunity that my promoter and my team have given me that we need to take advantage of. All I can say is that it is going to be a great fight.”
Saturday’s night fight card will mark the third time that DeMarco shares the fight card with the undisputed flyweight champion Vic Darchinyan and the second time that DeMarco is the semi-main event, a fact that DeMarco considers and honor despite Darchinyan’s comments about DeMarco’s compatriots in the past.
“It is an honor for me to fight along him in the same fight card with him. He is a great fighter, a great champion and great person. We have spoken in the past since we have the same promoter. I think he is a great champion and I admire him and hopefully one day I can be like him,” DeMarco continues. “He says that he has respect for me and he has told me that he respects the Mexican people. Sometimes that things that he says is just for propaganda.”
With the fact that his next bout has officially been assigned as a WBC elimination bout with the winner earning the right to face the WBC lightweight champion, hard hitting Edwin Valero, DeMarco still has not set his sights on anything else but the task at hand.
“First we must get through this test with a fighter who is tough and that we don’t know well and we can’t think of the future until we get past this,” DeMarco says thoughtfully. “Every day working hard in the gym, running when you are at home, being able to separate the life here in the gym with the outside world, separate it from you family, it is very hard and that is why I believe that when a fighter gets to be a world champion, there is no better feeling in the world.”
“I go to sleep thinking of what I must do that night, I have to be ready to claim the ring that night, to say that this ring is mine, this night is mine. I am ready to do my job.”
For more coverage on the San Diego/Tijuana scene, please check out SDFights.com