It’s hard to tell who this fight means moreto. Is it bigger for Antonio DeMarco to impress his growing legion of followers as he climbs up the lightweight rankings ladder? Or will Anges “Baby Face” Adjaho make a name for himself in his SHOWTIME debut and prove he’s a legitimate top-10 contender in the 135-pound weight class? Fans will find out on Saturday, July 11, when DeMarco (21-1-1, 15 KOs) of Tijuana, Mexico, takes on West African native Adjaho (17-2, 9 KOs) in a battle of top-10 contenders in the co-feature on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING (9 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
The 10-rounder will precede Vic “Raging Bull” Darchinyan’s attempt to become a world champion in a third weight class when he challenges International Boxing Federation (IBF) 118-pound champion Joseph “King Kong” Agbeko from the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla.
The 23-year-old DeMarco is on a 10-fight winning streak and is coming off the biggest bout of his young career, a hard-fought ninth-round TKO over “Kid Diamond” Almazbek Raiymkulov (27-2-1, 15 KOs) to capture the North American Boxing Organization (NABO) lightweight title on Feb. 7, 2009, on SHOWTIME.
In the 29-year-old Adjaho, DeMarco will face the No. 4 ranked IBF and No. 6 World Boxing Council (WBC) contender who resides in Geneva, N.Y., but has been training in Miami, Fla. In his last fight on Valentine’s night, Adjaho won a unanimous decision over Fernando Angulo.
DeMarco is currently recognized as the No. 2 contender by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and No. 4 by the WBC and World Boxing Association (WBA). The son-in-law of former world champion Raul “Jibaro” Perez, DeMarco got the victory when Kid Diamond would not come out for the 10th round because of an injury. It was DeMarco’s fourth victory on SHOWTIME; the others came on ShoBox: The New Generation in 2008.
As tough and big as the Kid Diamond fight was for DeMarco, he knows facing Adjaho is comparable. “This is my biggest fight,” he said. “After this fight we want to go after a world title. We’re already No. 3 in the rankings so we think we should be able to go after guys that are ranked higher.”
DeMarco has not seen much of his newly announced opponent but his manager Jorge Marron has requested tape and knows Adjaho will be tough.
“We like his style,” Marron said. “He’s a physical fighter who will give Tony a real test. But we think we’re going to win this fight. We’re one or two fights away from a major world championship. Tony is a dedicated professional who wanted this fight.”
Adjaho said, “I haven’t seen DeMarco fight before. But I will be ready when we fight. I just want to do the right thing and make sure than I am ready for this fight. This means everything to me. I need to win this fight so I can continue taking care of my family. I also need to win if I want to become a world champion. This year is going to be great for me and I can’t wait.”
The event is being co-promoted by Don King Productions and Gary Shaw Productions, LLC.
Agbeko (26-1,22 KOs), of New York by way of Ghana, will be making the second defense of the 118-pound crown he won with a seventh-round TKO over Luis Perez in August 2007. A winner of five in a row, Agbeko is coming off a 12-round decision over William Gonzalez on Dec, 11, 2008.
Darchinyan (32-1, 26 KOs) solidified his status as the No. 1 super flyweight in the world – and one of the top boxers pound-for-pound – with back-to-back impressive victories over Jorge Arce last Feb. 7 on SHOWTIME and Christian Mijares on Nov. 1, 2008, on SHOWTIME.
SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING announcers Gus Johnson and Al Bernstein will call the action with Jim Gray reporting from ringside. The executive producer of SHOWTIME Sports is David Dinkins Jr., with Bob Dunphy directing.