Story and photos by Felipe Leon
It has been a series of accomplished dreams for WBC lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco. Ever since leaving the comfort of a humble home in Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico, and traveling at the tender age of fourteen to Tijuana in search of a dream and some dollars in his pocket, the now twenty-six year old father of one and one on the way with his wife Tania has reached a level that even though it was far away in his mind, was within his sights way back then. “Everything starts somewhere. I have always dreamed big. I always dreamed of being a world champion. I would dream of it but it was a far away dream. It was step by step. I first wanted to be a professional fighter, that was my goal, my dream. It happened and then it was to fight in a scheduled ten rounder and that happened. Before that it was to fight in the United States, I would dream fighting in the U.S. I would see fights on TV that were in the U.S. and I would say to myself, someday that will be me. Even if its four or six rounds but I will be there. It happened and that is when my promoter Gary Shaw saw me. Then I fought on Shobox and that was another dream of mine. They came piling on and now we are in the main event on HBO as a world champion.”
Bigger dreams now claim real estate in DeMarco’s mind but to accomplish them, the hard hitting Tijuana resident will have to get past former super featherweight champion Adrien Broner (24-0, 20KOs) of Cincinnati, Ohio, on HBO this Saturday night. DeMarco’s lightweight title will be on the line.
“I like to dream big. Right now I am a world champion but I want to show the people, I want to show boxing that I am hungry to be among the best, among the elite and that is my goal right now,” Antonio (28-2-1, 21KOs) said after a light work out.
The tall and lanky DeMarco captured the title in one of last year’s most unforgettable fights when behind on the cards, he stopped former two-time world champion Jorge Linares in the eleventh round. Since then, the southpaw DeMarco has defended the title twice, the first time in his hometown of Los Mochis by stopping the over matched “Mickey” Roman in five and just last September, John Molina in only forty-four seconds, a fact that fared well with DeMarco and his team.
“Simply we are happy with the work that we did in that fight. I think there is a reason why things end up like they do, God is very wise and I think that is why it ended quickly, he had this fight against Broner in store for me,” he said introspectively. “I am very happy with the way things developed. We prepared ourselves well for Molina and in this one so far for Broner and I am happy. My body has responded to the work and I am happy because of that.”
DeMarco’s trainer, who also does double duty as his wife’s grandfather, couldn’t agree with him more.
“The training is done to win. I am very happy that it came in the first round. We saw the results of the training,” the experienced trainer said. “He was able to catch him and stop him, I am happy and I wish all the fights ended that quickly.”
Although now mostly known as DeMarco’s trainer, Mr. Quirarte has a storied career as one of the best trainers in Mexico, having led Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., Raul “Jibaro” Perez and Juan Jose “Dinamita” Estrada to world titles all in the same year. He also trained Manuel “Mantecas” Medina to five world titles and helms the career of recent title challenger Marvin “Cachorro” Quintero among a number of amateurs in Tijuana.
Despite wishing that all fights ended quickly, Mr. Quirarte doesn’t kid himself and knows that in Broner, more is in store. “It is a tough fight but not impossible to win. Boxing sees him as a big name fighter for the future but they have not turned their heads and seen Antonio and that he is a product for the future of boxing as well. We are working very well in all the aspects of training. We know he is a very difficult fighter but this is an opportunity for Antonio to get his name out there at the highest level and to be honest, make a purse that he deserves.”
The fact that Broner has been christened by HBO as one of their rising stars was the only reason needed for Team DeMarco to make the fight. A win over “The Problem” and it would surely place DeMarco as one of the network’s favorite south of the border stars a la Barrera or Morales, a fact that does not escape the serene DeMarco.
“I have thought about it and that is what motivates me. Now is the time in my camp where I go out and train and think about a lot of things. I like to think,” DeMarco explained. “What can happen, what can’t happen, I always have to be ready for anything that can happen and I am very positive. I see myself with the belt in my hand and my hand raised that day. I feel great. I have a winner’s mentality and I want to show the people and HBO why we are the champion of the world, why we won that title and why we are on top.”
A fighter can be a product, although he has a lot of talent, I don’t deny it, he has a lot of talent, Adrien Broner is a very good fighter, a lot of talent, a lot of speed, a lot of mobility but the network or your promoter can help you get more fame,” he continued. “That doesn’t really interest me, what interests me is to work, to demonstrate inside the ring and win the people over with my work in the ring. I want people to get to know me but by my actions, working, giving good fights and by beating fighters that a lot of people see as invincible but they don’t seem that way to me.”
If anybody is familiar with DeMarco, they know that he is as serious outside the ring as he is in it. Always ready with a smile, the cool, calm and collected DeMarco chooses his words carefully as to not come off to confident or not confident enough. Even though he holds the green and gold belt, it is obvious for this fight, he feels like the challenger but as he explains, that is part of the plan.
“It is better for you not to believe what they say about you, that you have achieved something. Human beings are wired to get complacent once they have achieved something and I am not one of those people, I don’t want to be one of those people. I don’t want to get complacent and that is why I think this way,” DeMarco said with a chuckle. “I think very differently from the Valero fight. If God is wiling and I beat Broner on November 17th, it will because I am the champion of the world, because I am truly the champion. He has to come and take my title.”
“The network is making me look like the challenger and I take it like that because that motivates me immensely. Like I have always said, he has more to prove and more stacked on his shoulders. The network is giving him that responsibility, that things have to go his way, he talks and talks and now he has to prove it inside the ring. I am going to practically go fight in his backyard, he has to look good in front of his fans. I am very calm, I am the champion of the world and I am going to defend my title like I always do, giving me best inside the ring.”
Beating Broner might be easier said that done but in his typical old school fashion, Mr. Quirarte won’t even hint at the way they will do it.
“I can’t share the strategy and I can’t share what we think Tony has to look out for in Broner’s style,” he says with a wink. “What I can say is that Broner is the one that needs to look out and to get ready. DeMarco is a fighter that is very hungry and is very disciplined. His career is ascending, step by step, I feel that he is stronger, more complete, I think the one that needs to look out is Broner. You will see the strategy once they are in the ring.”
In quite possible the toughest fight of his career, DeMarco came out at the losing end when he challenged the late Edwin Valero for the same green and gold strap he now holds. Now only days from quite possibly a tougher fight, the more mature DeMarco feels that he is ready for the outcome to be different. “I have to give a lot of respect and merit to Valero as well as Adrien Broner. Both are great fighters. I don’t really know if this fight will be as tough as the Valero one. We are going to put all of our work and determination on the line to come out with the win, if God is willing. It is a matter of adjusting well with the style the day of the fight and for it to be a good fight. In my mind the only thing is winning. I don’t care about looking good or bad inside the ring but just to win. I want to show why I am the champion of the world. I want to prove to people that you can achieve anything, that there is no invincible or impossible because for me, that word doesn’t exist. I work to do what I do, I work to win and to survive.”