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DeMarco ready for Valero

Story & photos by Felipe Leon

Despite his 25 fights under his professional belt, interim WBC lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco (23-1-1, 17KO) feels that the majority of his gained experience has been in his most recent bouts, wins over Almazbek "Kid Diamond" Raiymkulov and Anges Adjaho. Along with the experience, DeMarco displayed a patience that had not been seen before.

"Besides strategy, it is part of the experience that you are getting," says DeMarco. "It's part of the experience that I got from Kid Diamond and Adjaho, which was plenty.

"There were tough fights in their own right. Kid Diamond was very tough and Adjaho because of his style turned out to be very difficult. It is experience and a sense of security that you begin to acquire as the fights become more difficult."

With his win over Raiymkulov, DeMarco of Tijuana, by way of Los Mochis, captured the NABO lightweight and a WBC lightweight eliminator by stopping Adjaho in the ninth round in July last year. That win prompted a interim championship in October of '09 fight against hard hitting Nicaraguan Jose Alfaro in which DeMarco captured the green and gold belt by TKO in the tenth round.

"My lifelong dream was to become WBC world champion. That was the second happiest day of my life - only the birth of my daughter comes first," DeMarco says.

As many now have seen, DeMarco wears his heart on his sleeve proved by the spontaneous displays of emotion after he wins his bouts. Now as he challenges hard hitting Venezuelan Edwin Valero (26-0, 26 KOs) for the absolute WBC lightweight title on Saturday, February 6th, in Monterrey, MX, he promises we haven't seen anything yet.

"It was very surprising to win the belt against Alfaro but now that we are going against Valero and if everything goes our way, believe me, my celebration is going to be three times more emotional than that night," DeMarco says with a smile.

After his win late last year over Alfaro and Valero not having defended the title he captured in April of '09, rumors of a Valero-DeMarco show down in December surfaced but as far as DeMarco knew, an offer was never made.

"I would have been more than happy to face Valero back in December. That is a point that my promoter decides and my team but we never received an official offer," DeMarco made clear. "I would have faced him anywhere, in Venezuela, in Mexico, in the United States, wherever."

Valero instead opted to defend is title against another Tijuana fighter, Hector Velazquez who he stopped in seven rounds. DeMarco, who began training at fourteen under the watchful eye of Romulo Quirarte at the CREA Gym in Tijuana, has attacked training for his next bout with new found vigor since he subscribes to the notion that fights are won in the gym.

"It has been more intense. I think I have worked harder in this camp, I have put more of myself into this camp so that everything goes our way. It has been a harder camp but I am more than motivated to keep going," The 24-year-old DeMarco says. "The fights, the training camps, they help you get more experience and the truth is that I am hungry to win, I am ready to keep going. The fights are won in the gym leaving everything in the gym. Nobody should be pushed, oneself should be able to motivate himself and keep going."

Although Valero, who earned his first eighteen knockouts in the first round, seems unbeatable in the eyes of many, DeMarco and his team believe that they have worked on the right strategies to see his hand raised on fight night.

"I think once we get in the ring, we are going to have to adjust," DeMarco explains. "In camp we worked on certain tactics which are many but once we get in the ring face to face with Valero we are going to see which one works better and which one we are going to use."

In boxing, the majority of the bouts end with a clear winner and a loser. Every fighter climbs into the ring confident that he holds the tools, heart and strategy to win but at times, the triumph ends in the opposite corner.

"I am a person that likes challenges, that is willing to sacrifice. When I fall down, I like to get up and keep going with even more will power," DeMarco says if he where to lose his next bout. "It is not going to stop me if I end up losing this fight and my dream will become even bigger. There will be bigger fights and believe me that I will get up and try ten times harder."

More importantly, DeMarco has thought of what it would be to wrap the coveted WBC lightweight belt around his waist.

"I have dreamed it. I have thought about it, I have been running and thought about it. Why would I deny it if I have thought about it?," he says with a chuckle. "I get goose bumps just thinking about it and imagining it and if it does happen, it will be magnificent."

With his trunks covered with the names of his family, wife and young daughter, it is no secret what motivates DeMarco to climb into the ring and earn his living fighting.

"My parents, my family, there is a lot of things, uncles who were fighters, my grandfather. They have a dream, just as I do, for me to be a world champion and I would like to make that a reality for them as well as for me. I would like win the title and take it to them and tell them that they belt is as much theirs as it is mine," DeMarco says calmly. "Many people that have helped me here in Tijuana, that gave me a place to sleep, food to eat, I am eternally grateful to those people and I thank God for putting them in my life. All that is motivation for me. All these people deserve for me to go on February 6th and win the world title, they deserve it more than I do."

Valero, who in the past has been known for his deservedly confidence in his destruction of his upcoming opponents, has been quiet when it has comes to DeMarco. A fact that does not escape the challenger.

"I have always said that this sport is for gentlemen. I think I have earned Valero's respect because I respect him. I respect him as a person and as a boxer and as a colleague. We know that when we climb into the ring we risk everything, we risk our lives," DeMarco says. "I think it is because of that I know that Valero is a great world champion. He is a great, solid champion. This sport is of gentlemen, one of respect and once inside the ring, one must try to win."

DeMarco is not oblivious to the many boxing pundits and boxing fans that do not expect for him to go the distance, much less come out victorious on February 6th.

"This sport is about seeing what happens. There is many people that have their own opinions and I respect that. There is negative people and there is positive people and that is part of this sport," DeMarco explains. "We are conscious that there is all kind of opinions and we understand that. People that think that I am not going to go more than three or four rounds motivate me as much as the positive ones to try harder and keep going."

With a win, DeMarco would be positioned to do what most champions dream of, to unify the division but for now, DeMarco is focused on the task at hand.

"That would be something that any boxer would like to do.," DeMarco says with a chuckle. "That is something that we have to leave for after February 6th and see what happens."

. . . .

SHOWTIME Sports® will present a fight card from Mexico for the first time in nearly 12 years when devastating, undefeated knockout artist and two-time world champion Edwin Valero (26-0, 26 KOs), of Las Vegas, Nev., by way of Merida, Venezuela, defends his World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight crown against streaking, once-beaten WBC 135-pound interim titleholder Antonio DeMarco (23-1-1, 17 KOs) of Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, on Saturday, Feb. 6. In the SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING co-feature, unbeaten, world-ranked Luis Carlos Abregu (28-0, 23 KOs) of Salta, Argentina, will be opposed by Richard Gutierrez (24-3, 14 KOs), of Miami, Fla., via Arjona, Colombia, in a 10-round welterweight bout. The doubleheader will be shown live on SHOWTIME® (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the West Coast). The event at Arena Monterrey is promoted by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, and will take place during the celebration of the bicentennial of Mexico’s Independence.

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