By Graham Houston
Lightweight champ Edwin Valero is one of those “force of nature” fighters. He isn’t classy, nor is he especially quick, but he brings an almost frightening power and intensity to his fights. Valero is difficult to discourage and it is hard to hold him off. He has shown a patience and maturity in his recent fights after starting his professional career with 18 first-round knockouts. On Saturday in Mexico Valero defends his WBC title for the second time when he meets Antonio DeMarco in an all-southpaw fight, with Showtime televising.
Valero is fighting on his opponent’s home territory, but this is unlikely to worry him too much. He has won in Mexico before, and he didn’t let a particularly hostile crowd affect his performance when he knocked out Vicente Mosquera in a ferocious fight in Panama. The 28-year-old Venezuelan is very confident in his ability to hurt and stop the other man. Indeed, it is possible that his boxing technique has suffered a little as opponent after opponent has fallen. Valero, though, always gives me the impression that he knows exactly what he is doing, at all times, in the ring. He might look a bit crude and even raw, but when he gets a man going the end usually is imminent.
DeMarco is an interesting test for Valero. The 24-year-old from Tijuana has been featured frequently on ShoBox and Showtime, and he gave his best performance in his last fight when he outclassed Jose Alfaro. The former champ from Nicaragua was never in the fight.
Alfaro and Valero are completely different fighters, though. There was never a moment when Alfaro posed a threat. He was too slow and too predictable, and by the second round it was target practice for DeMarco.
Valero will be coming after DeMarco from the start and he won’t allow himself to be picked off and outpointed. The taller DeMarco is a bit quicker and he might be a better stylist, but Valero looks much the stronger man. I very much doubt that DeMarco will be able to dictate the course of the contest the way he did against Alfaro, because Valero has the ability to hurt him at any moment and will be creating anxiety with his fierce attacks.
DeMarco can box and he can punch, but he has shown vulnerability. He was almost overwhelmed late in the fight by Jose Reyes, he struggled against Anges Adjaho and he didn’t have things all his own way against a faded Almazbek Raiymkulov, who never boxed again.
I think that DeMarco can win some rounds by boxing a disciplined fight, getting off with quick punches and stepping smartly out of range, but to keep doing it for 12 rounds is going to be extremely difficult. Valero will be stalking him, perhaps looking to counter him at times, at other moments going straight at him with sudden rushes. DeMarco might be able to elude Valero for a while, but eventually I think he will get caught, either when pulling back or in those moments when he starts to let his hands go. I don’t see a one-punch finish but I do think that Valero will slowly break down DeMarco’s resistance before launching the sort of assault that will have the referee intervening, maybe around the ninth round.