Fight fans have likely heard by now how thrilling blood and guts ring warrior Tony DeMarco has passed away, the former welterweight king passing away yesterday in hospital at the age of 89. A Hall of Famer who thrilled so many fans with his stirring ring battles against the likes of Carmen Basilio, Johnny Saxton, Jimmy Carter and Kid Gavilan, DeMarco ruled the 147 pound division for a little over two months in 1955.
Photo: Boxing Hall Of Fame
DeMarco, born Leonardo Liotta, of immigrant, Sicilian parents, was born in Boston and he fought most of his fights there. A rough and tough warrior with a most crowd-pleasing style, DeMarco added plenty to the golden age that was the 1950s. DeMarco’s two fights with the equally tough and gutsy Basilio are legendary; the second fight especially. After beating Saxton by 14th round TKO on April 1 in 1955, DeMarco, then aged just 23 and sporting a 46-5-1 pro record, made his first defence against “The Onion Farmer.”
DeMarco and Basilio engaged in two blistering firefights that continue to be talked about here in more modern times (the great Emmanuel Steward, when co-commentating on the first epic Gatti-Ward fight, recalled the ferocity of the DeMarco-Basilio wars). Basilio defeated DeMarco twice, both times by 12th round stoppage, yet both men gave their all. Indeed, during the brutal 7th round of the rematch, Basilio’s trainer, the legendary Angelo Dundee, screamed at his fighter to drop and take a knee, so badly was Carmen being pounded (Basilio ignored Angie).
DeMarco fought on after The Ring Magazine Fight of the Year for 1955, for a further seven years, and he earned big wins over the likes of Gavilan (UD10) and Don Jordan (KO2), while he also had two hard fights with Virgil Akins, DeMarco losing both via late stoppage defeat. DeMarco never again fought for the world title. Retiring in 1962, DeMarco exited with a 58-12-1(33) record.
DeMarco was enshrined in The Hall of Fame in 2019. A statue of DeMarco was erected in Boston in 2012. DeMarco, known as “The Boston Bomber” really was one of the greats, and one of the most exciting. May he rest in peace.