Antonio DeMarco: I'm ready to fight; Selby-Okine on Friday; Bam on boxing

With one of the most exciting come from behind wins in recent memory, Antonio DeMarco (27-2-1, 20KOs) is on top of the world as the World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight champion. Last October as he trailed on the score cards, DeMarco of Tijuana by way of Los Mochis, Mexico, stopped two-time world champion Jorge Linares in the 11th round of their title bout. With the win, DeMarco realized a long life dream of being a world champion. Last March, DeMarco defended the title against Miguel ďMickeyĒ Roman with a fifth round KO in his hometown of Los Mochis.

Earlier this week DeMarco was awarded by the Tijuana Boxing Commission an accolade for his performances outside of Mexico in 2011. DeMarco is now set to defend his title once again, now either in Mexicali or Tijuana, on August 20th against Alejandro Sanabria (32-1-1, 24KOs) of Mexico City, Mexico. Sanabria has held the WBC Silver lightweight strap.

ďI am ready to fight. I have been in the gym working lightly but soon we will pick up the pace,Ē DeMarco stated. ďSanabria is a strong fighter. I know I will have to be at my best but I am not worried, I am sure my team will put together a good strategy for the fight. I am happy to be fighting in Baja California, something I have not done in a long time, so I am looking forward to it.Ē
DeMarco will be in attendance at the 99th Annual Fontana Days Festival on Satuday, June 2nd. DeMarco will be taking pictures and signing autographs for his fans as part of the Casa Hispana Booth at the parade held in Fontana, California. The booth will be located at Veterans Park, 17255 Merril Avenue, Fontana, CA, 92335.


Where had Barryís Lee Selby been hiding prior to his valedictory British and Commonwealth featherweight title win over Stephen Smith last September? The cocksure 25 year old Welshman from Tony Borgís flourishing St Joís stable in Newport proved a revelation by comprehensively out-boxing, then felling, the former European amateur medallist in his home city of Liverpool.

Selby then consolidated with an equally impressive wipe out of John Simpson before the year was through.

Prior to making a second defence of his Commonwealth strap against Patrick Okine at the Newport Sports Centre tomorrow night (Friday 25th May), the richly talented switchhitter spoke at length to boxing writer Glynn Evans about his career thus far and his future aspirations.


How did you first become interested in boxing?

My dadís a huge boxing fanatic. You get quite a bit of trouble in the town where I live (Barry), some real rough places, same as everywhere. But Iíve never had a street fight. From a very young age, I was always in the Rhoose ABC gym where (ex British and Commonwealth welter challenger) Michael Smyth boxed. Heís kind of related to me, my uncle is his stepdad. After we left the Rhoose gym to join the Splott Adventure gym in Cardiff, he never spoke to us!

What are your memories of your amateur career?

I had my first bout a couple of days after my 10th birthday. All told Iíd have had about 90 bouts, lost about 20. I won the Welsh (title) every year including three Welsh seniors but didnít get many international vests. They kept picking the kids Iíd beat ahead of me.

I did box (Scotlandís former British champion) Paul Appleby twice in the Four Nations. First time he beat me by a point and I was robbed. Second time he beat me fair and square. But I werenít very dedicated as an amateur, hardly trained, just messed around. I fought up at lightweight- I still only walk around at about 10 stone - and I regret that. Because of my style, I couldíve been a great amateur. Today Iím far more professional, both in style and my attitude.

The only blip on your 13 fight pro record is a four round points loss to Hullís former ABA finalist Samir Mouneimne in your fifth start. What went wrong that night?

To be honest, I donít know how I passed the doctor. I had lumps around my throat. Still, I thought I beat Samir. First two rounds I just messed around but I had him out on his feet, third round. However, back then, I lacked the experience to finish him off. I definitely won round four but they gave it him in a bad decision. If we boxed again now, Iíd definitely knock him out.

The St Josephís gym in Newport where you train under Tony Borg is fast emerging as one of the best in Britain. What makes it tick?

Itís the boxers that make the gym. Thereís top class kids like (reigning British superfeather champion) Gary Buckland and his younger brother Mitchell, my brother Andrew and Fred Evans (both 2012 Olympians), Joe Cordina and Sean McGoldrick (both Team GB members), plus good pros like Frankie Borg and Lee Churcher.

Weíre all talented boys, all get along, work together. Thereís a great team spirit here. Weíre very competitive in the running and circuits, and we punch lumps out of each other in the sparring ring. We all want to be the best.

We mix the sparring up so that we get plenty of fast sharp stuff with the amateurs and rougher, heavier stuff with the pros. Iíve only been dropped once, by (Britainís 2012 Olympic welter representative) Fred Evans in the gym. I was giving it him and he caught me coming in with a hook. I just knocked out a few press ups and climbed back up!

Thereís not any good professional gyms in Cardiff any more. Thatís why I travel about 20 miles each way to train with Tony three or four times a week. Heís a really excellent coach, the best in Britain. Tonyís a really good guy to get along with, never puts himself above you. But thereís no easy sessions at this gym. If youíre not prepared to put the work in, Tony wonít bother with you and thatís how it should be.

Of course, he did it all himself as a top amateur and ex-pro. Heís an excellent pad man, always focuses on correcting your mistakes, improving you rather than telling you how fantastic you are. To be honest, heís the only coach whoís really shown me much, taught me to hide my chin behind my shoulder. Iím naturally unorthodox, most of itís just instinct. Ali was my hero, hence the showboating but Iíve cut down on that now, become more professional.

Despite winning Welsh and Celtic titles youíd not been past six rounds when you challenged Scouse amateur star Stephen Smith for his British and Commonwealth belts last September. You were also forced to go to his home city. How confident were you going into that fight?

Iím confident going into every fight because of all the quality sparring I do with far heavier boys at Tonyís gym. After taking it to middleweights in sparring, I find it very easy when Iím in against kids who weigh the same as me. Iím very big for featherweight and, now Iím getting proper notice to make the weight properly, Iím very, very strong. Before, at just one or two weeks notice I was only showing half of myself.

Going in, I wasnít given much of a chance because no one had really seen me. Iíd not been on TV or even on the internet much. I was sent up there to get beat. Being in his home city, I knew that if I outboxed Smith, theyíd still give it to him on points.

The hostile crowd certainly never bothered me.Two fights previously, Iíd fought at the same arena, stayed at the same hotel and that helped. Compared with Smith, Iím very big at the weight. Iím also very fast. Every shot I landed, I could feel the strength draining out of Smith. I knew he was going to go. Sure, he can have a return but Iím not sure heíd want it. I was hurting him every shot I hit him.

Youíd only registered two stoppage victories in 11 previous gigs yet the scything left hook that ironed Smith out in round eight was a strong candidate for British Knockout of the Year. Did you surprise yourself?

Not at all. I always have been a puncher but, earlier in my career, my manager Chris Sanigar advised me to get the rounds in the bag. He told me that journeymen are there to learn from, not to knockout. Now Iím at championship level Iím allowed to let the shots go.

People donít realise how hard I hit. But every title fight, when my opponent has had to get down to my weight, Iíve stopped them. When I boxed Dai Davies for the Welsh superfeather, he was Ďoutí, gone from one punch, just like Smith was. Now I can knock Ďem all out.

You proved the upset over Smith was no fluke when you wasted teak tough Scot John Simpson with a body shot (rsc5) in your maiden defence at the York Hall, three months after.

Thatís right. I was extremely confident going in because Iíve always been able to box the heads off the shorter, compact types. After the sparring I do, thereís no chance these little nine stone fellas are going to push me back.

I wasnít shocked at all that I won but I was a bit shocked that Simpson fell so early and so easily because heíd never been stopped before. It wasnít really a hard shot but mustíve just landed in the right place. I think Iím frightening off all these little British featherweights.

Last year, your younger brother Andrew ripped up a few trees by storming to the European amateur flyweight title and qualifying for London 2012 by making the final at the world amateur championships in Azerbaijan. How significant have Andrewís successes been in helping you focus on realising your own potential? What role will you play in his Olympic preparations?

It definitely gave me a bit of a kick up the arse. Iím very proud of him. Heís definitely the best medal prospect in Team GB and I think heíll win the gold.

Andrewís just over a year younger than me and, growing up, we always trained together and sparred together. We werenít overly competitive, we always got on well. It was always me who ended up with the black eyes cos heíd hit me so hard!

We still spar and he still likes to have a go. Heís a very good boxer and we learn off each other. Heís improved my defence. We sparred before the Smith fight at home, in the kitchen!

When heís home from (the Team GB training base in) Sheffield, weíll run and spar together and we work together very well with each other on the pads. Iím hoping to be ringside for him but he only gets two comps per bout and the whole family will be scrambling for Ďem. Two tickets ainít enough.

Friday sees you defend a major title for the first time back in Wales. Are you looking forward to the homecoming or does it add unneeded pressure?

For a start itíll be nice to enter an arena where the fans clap me rather than boo me. I was given 120 tickets and I should do the lot. Hopefully, Iíll be able to please all my family and friends but Iíll not be going out to be a hero. Iíll just be going out to win the fight and keep my belt. If the kayo doesnít come, I certainly wonít be disappointed.

You spent a week of your preparation over at the Mayweather gym in Las Vegas. How did that opportunity materialise and what did you hope to gain from the experience?

My manager Chris Sanigar is good mates with Cornelius Boza-Edwards from their time boxing together at the Fitzroy Lodge gym in London. Chris wanted me to have a taste of what lifeís like at the very top and Boza arranged accommodation and sorted out sparring and everything for us.

Originally, weíd hoped to spar (WBA and IBF feather king) Yuriorkis Gamboa but weíd just missed him. However, I did get quality sparring with Joel Brunker, an Australian whoís number three featherweight with the WBO, and Kevin Johnson, an amateur light-welter from the Mayweather gym who was good but not as good as me! I also sparred a Canadian welter who was 15-1. Getting the better of top boys like them gave me a lot of confidence.

At the Mayweather gym I got to watch Floyd Jnr train and spar. 50 Cent was there plus guys like Andre Ward and Zab Judah. The most impressive thing about Floyd is how he takes his time and wastes nothing; lands almost every shot. We had a photo taken, shook hands and he wished me well with my career. His uncle Roger took me on the pads, showed me some defence and said he was impressed with me.

I really enjoyed it and would love to return sometime, hopefully to challenge for a world title at the MGM Grand. Iím only about 18 months off, if Iím kept busy and keep winning.

What do you know about your Ghanaian opponent Patrick ĎThe Malletí Okine?

Heís got a good record (11-1-1) with a very decent knockout percentage (nine stoppage wins, including his last five fights).

Africans are usually very tough and, from what Iíve seen of him on You Tube, heís very strong and not scared of letting his punches go. But heís nothing too special technically.

Iíve not boxed for over five months yet Iíve been in the gym for almost every day since and, for the last eight weeks, Iíve been at it, flat out. Iím feeling very sharp and ready to go.

Finally, if you prevail on Friday, what are your plans for the remainder of 2012?

Iíd like a Lonsdale Belt and my (British) mandatory is up next. Iím unsure who it is but thereís some good fighters in the division such as Smith, Martin Lindsey and Joe Murray. Iíll oblige any of them. Fighting away really doesnít bother me at all. Iíd happily fight Martin Lindsay in Belfast if the moneyís good.

Iím also mandatory for the European which is held by a kid (Georgiaís Alexander Miskirtchian)who lost on points to Paul Truscott so he canít be too clever. However, some of those (contenders) behind him are very good boys and when I land at that level I want to be ready for any of Ďem. Iíve only had 13 fights. Iím still a novice, still learning.

Bam on boxing

Flashback and Preview

The Philadelphia fight scene is heating up. I would like to congratulate Philadelphia welterweight Ray Robinson on his second- round knockout over Terrance Cauthen, of Trenton, NJ, on May 12 at the Newtown (PA) Athletic Club. One week later at Ballyís Atlantic City, junior middleweight Jamaal Davis earned a majority eight-round decision over pressure fighter Eberto Medina, of Newark, NJ, in a thriller.

In the midst of these local match-ups, previously undefeated junior welterweight Ray Serrano had the biggest test of his career on ESPNís Friday Night Fights and camp up short in Albany, NY, where he was stopped in the fifth round by Karim Mayfield, of San Francisco, CA. I donít know which was more disturbing: Serranoís corner for being mixed up and yelling at each other, or for not giving the fighter the stool and a water bath during the one-minute rest after a face-first knockdown as the bell rang to end round four. Serrano barely beat the 10-count and was in no condition to continue. Nobody can doubt Serranoís heart but I hope he takes a nice rest before he bounces back.

June looks to be one of the most exciting months local fight fans could ask for with two NBC Sports Network Fight Night shows--June 1 and June 16--featuring four Philadelphia fighters, and having two more locals televised on the Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley pay-per-view card June 9 from the MGM in Las Vegas, NV.

Beginning June 1 at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem (PA), welterweight and hometown hero Ronald Cruz faces Prenice Brewer, of Cleveland, OH, in one co-feature, while junior middleweights King Gabriel Rosado of Philadelphia, and Sechew Powell, of Brooklyn, NY, square off in the other.

I donít know much about Brewer other than he is a quick-handed boxer with fair power. Cruz figures to be the stronger of the two. Brewer is best-known for his upset win last fall over Emmanuel Taylor, of Edgewood Arsenal, MD. Rosado, on the other hand, is facing a fighter who has been in with some of the best. Rosado needs to prove that his Jan. 21 stoppage of Mexicoís Jesus Soto-Karass was not a fluke.

Eight days later in Las Vegas, on one of the biggest PPV cards this year, welterweight Mike Jones will be fighting for the IBF World Title against Randall Bailey, of Miami, FL. Also on the televised portion of the PPV card will be another Philadelphian, super bantamweight Teon Kennedy, who will challenge Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux for the WBA World Title at 122 pounds. It would be nice for them to come home with two championship belts.

Jones, not known for the most exciting fights, has a lot to prove against Bailey. This is the biggest test of his career and the fans will be looking for more excitement then he generated against Sebastian Lujan, of Argentina, on the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito card last Dec. 3 at Madison Square Garden.

Kennedy, on the other hand, is one of the most entertaining fighters out there. He will be facing the toughest test of his career.

Good luck, guys!

Two weeks later, the NBC Sports Network Fight Night series moves to the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The 12-round main event features Philadelphia heavyweight Eddie Chambers against Polish star Tomasz Adamek, who now resides in Jersey City, NJ. The co-feature showcases another Philadelphia heavyweight in Bryant Jennings, who hopes to win the vacant USBA title when he takes on Steve Collins, of Houston, TX.

Chambers will end a 16-month layoff and hopes to piece back together his fading reputation after multiple injury based pullouts in the last year. He will be the underdog in the house that night, fighting in a venue that Adamek considers his second home. I will be looking for Chambers to score the upset.

Jennings, who is an NBC Sports Network favorite, will continue his on-the-job education against Collins in the 10-round co-feature.

Not sure which of the up-coming fight cards will be the most entertaining, but one thing is for sure: The five Peltz Boxing Promotions fighters in action (Cruz, Rosado, Jones, Kennedy, Jennings) have their work cut out for them.

The author is a Temple University graduate who is now a part of Peltz Boxing. Follow us on twitter @Peltzboxing and our intern @bamonboxing

Article posted on 24.05.2012

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