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Feature Story

Valero proves he’s for real

Perfect record no illusion

Tom Casino/SHOWTIME

In a sterling performance, Edwin Valero of Venezuela improved to 27-0 with 27 knockouts and retained the World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight title with a dominant ninth-round TKO over WBC interim titleholder Antonio DeMarco (23-2-1, 17 KOs) of Tijuana, Mex., Saturday in the main event on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING on SHOWTIME®. The event at Arena Monterrey, promoted by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, was the first SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING telecast to emanate from Mexico in nearly 12 years and the first in Monterrey in more than 15.

Valero showed he was anything but one-dimensional as he outfought and, somewhat shockingly, outboxed the tentative and outclassed DeMarco while controlling all the rounds in a one-sided battle of southpaws.

Tom Casino/SHOWTIME

The talented Valero had his way despite suffering a cut on the cheek in the first round and a severe, ugly gash on his forehead above his right eye from an unintentional elbow in the second. Blood flowed from his forehead for much of the match, but Valero remained poised and in total command.

The fight was stopped by the referee after the ninth round with a beaten, exhausted DeMarco seated on his stool. At the time of the stoppage, Valero was ahead by the scores of 89-81 on the three judges’ scorecards.

Tom Casino/SHOWTIME

“This was definitely my best performance,” said the 5-foot-7½-inch, 28-year-old Valero after making the second title defense of the 135-pound belt he won in April 2009. “I learned I have to pace myself and can’t just come out in the beginning rounds so aggressively.

“I have to save some of that for the later rounds.”

Valero, the busier fighter throughout, connected with many powerful combinations upstairs and to the body, and was as strong in the last round as he was in the first.

Rafael Soto Top Rank/Zanfer

“I wasn’t surprised the fight lasted nine rounds. I was expecting it to last the full 12,” he said. “I knew I had to keep doing what I was doing in order to win. They thought I wasn’t a boxer and that I couldn’t deal with his reach. They didn’t know that I was a lateral fighter. I showed them that I had a better defense and better legs.”

A heretofore unknown despite his amazing knockout record – he won his initial 17 starts by first-round knockout — Valero was ecstatic after his debut on SHOWTIME.

“A star is born,” he smiled. “In me, the people have a great boxing champion and with tonight’s performance they have the proof. The fans now know that they will be happy to see my fights.”

DeMarco fought patiently, perhaps too patiently. He lacked fire and intensity and seemed content to box and land an occasional single punch. If he was waiting for fatigue to set in with Valero, he still is.

“It wasn’t my night,” conceded the 5-foot-10, 24-year-old DeMarco, who entered the scheduled 12-rounder having won 12 and a row and going unbeaten in his last 16 (15-0-1) dating to May 2006. “He got the best of me. I went out there tonight to fight but my body did not respond.”

While dejected, DeMarco did not dispute his corner’s decision to halt the proceedings. “As a Mexican fighter, I did not want to quit, but my corner saw throughout the fight that Valero was the better fighter,” he said.

* * *

World-ranked welterweight Carlos Abregu of Salta, Argentina, upped his record to 29-0 (23 KOs) with a clear-cut, 10-round unanimous decision over Miami-based Colombian Richard Gutierrez (24-4, 14 KOs) in the co-feature .

The five-foot-10-inch, 27-year-old Abregu rallied from a second-round knockdown and a cut below the left eye to floor the five-foot-nine-inch, 31 year old Gutierrez in the third en route to winning decisively by the scores of 98-90 and 97-91 twice.

“I came in knowing that Gutierrez was tough,” said Abregu, who showed surprisingly good boxing skills, movement and defense. “He’s shown it in all his past fights. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

“I hurt both my hands in this fight, but whatever injury it is, it was worth it. This was a very hard fight and I am very proud of my performance. I won like I’d hoped. I wanted to be the best man tonight and I was.”

* * *

The doubleheader will re-air on Monday, Feb. 8, at 10PM ET/PT on SHO 2. Saturday’s doubleheader will be available ON DEMAND beginning on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING announcers Gus Johnson and Al Bernstein called the action with Steve Farhood reporting from ringside. The executive producer of SHOWTIME Sports is David Dinkins Jr. with Ray Smaltz producing and Bob Dunphy directing.




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