Despite the ages old saying, Los Mochis, Mexico’s Antonio DeMarco (25-2-1, 18KOs) will look to make it two times the charm when he takes on two-time divisional champion Jorge “Niño de Oro” Linares (31-1, 20KOs) of Venezuela for the vacant WBC lightweight title in the semi-main event of the “Believe it or Not!” fight card headlined by the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson light heavyweight bout. The Golden Boy Promotions in association with Gary Shaw Promotions event will be held at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, California, and broadcast live by HBO PPV.
DeMarco has been here before, after capturing the interim WBC title the first time in late ’09 by stopping Jose Alfaro, DeMarco, who lives and trains in Tijuana, challenged another Venezuelan, the late Edwin Valero in early 2010 for the full-fledged title in Monterrey, Mexico. DeMarco fell short and quit in his stool in the ninth round.
For his trainer Romulo Quirarte, it was a great opportunity but at a bad time for his twenty-five year old charge, “He has not been distracted in this camp, that loss was as good lesson for him. He realized that you can’t fight for a title when you are not ready for it. You have to work hard with the same humility to reach the goal and I think he got that message.”
After the loss and then a quick win over Daniel Attah, DeMarco once again captured the interim title when he went twelve rounds versus compatriot Reyes Sanchez in Nebraska earlier this year in a bout that DeMarco admits was not his best performance.
“It was a fight that helped us a lot, he was a very uncomfortable opponent with a lot of tricks, very smothering,” the well-spoken DeMarco shared. “He gave us a good fight but I think it was a fight that we won. It served us well because we were coming off a long layoff, almost one year and it helped us a lot to go for the whole twelve rounds.”
Always a gym rat, fight or not, DeMarco realized that at this level, it is not enough to just go through the motions inside the CREA gym in Tijuana but actually train day in and day out as if the title shot was right around the corner and in his case, it was albeit a long one.
“After Valero we fought Daniel Attah and that fight only lasted a round and a half,” he said regarding the knock out win. “Then we went after Reyes Sanchez and you can say that in that fight I was shaking off the ring rust. This case it is different, since we fought Reyes Sanchez, we have been in the gym, we have been sparring and have a really good rhythm right now.”
Sometimes when a fighter is with a powerful promoter or his popularity out matches his skills, an easy road to a title is laid out. For DeMarco, who doesn’t possess any of the afore mentioned prerequisites, must earn his title the hard way and face not only a world ranked opponent but a former two-time divisional champion at that, a fact that he is well aware of.
“Jorge Linares is a great fighter, a fighter that is very technical and in my opinion, he is one of today’s best fighters who know how to move inside the ring,” DeMarco said. “Besides that, he has two arms, he has two hands, he has two legs and he has one head just like me. Inside the ring it will be only he and I and we have been training very hard for whatever he brings to be able to counter attack and to be able to do more things than he inside the ring.”
One main thing that Linares brings to the ring is speed which for Bobby Quirarte, Romulo’s son and a chief strategist for the team as well as trainer of former WBC lightweight champ Humberto “Zorrita” Soto, knows must be dealt with, “We have worked on speed in the gym, we have studied fight videos of Jorge Linares and we know that he is a very quick fighter. I think by the time of the fight it is going to look pretty even when it comes to speed because Tony is very quick also, he is intelligent and has a very heavy punch. Many people say that he should knock out Linares because they think he doesn’t have a chin but really he has only been knocked out once. We are not looking for the knock out; we are ready for the twelve rounds.”
The Linares knock out loss came in the first round of Linares’ 2009 title defense of his WBA super featherweight title against Juan Carlos Salgado in Japan, a country where Linares has performed in for most of his career. Since then, Linares quickly climbed up to the lightweight division and captured a minor title versus Rocky Juarez and then stopped Jesus Chavez, both in 2010. In his last fight earlier this year, Linares stopped an over matched Adrian Verdugo in seven rounds.
For Romulo Quirarte, the best tool for DeMarco to defeat Linares is not as much a physical one but one that he holds in his mind and in his heart, “He has to execute the strategy that we have for the fight. He has to use all his conditioning and the hunger he has to be a world champion. Obviously I can’t divulge our strategy because there isn’t only one. It would be foolish to think that we have only one plan. We know that he has studied us as well. We do have a plan A and plan B and perhaps even a plan C and we are going to execute according to the circumstances.”
The one Linares team member whose job is to study DeMarco is none other than 5-time trainer of the year Freddie Roach. Long considered the best trainer in the business, it wouldn’t be out of line to believe that any fighter who is facing one of Roach’s pupils might have an extra concern but for the confident DeMarco, that is not the case, “With all due respect for Freddie Roach and the work he has done with Manny Pacquiao, who in my opinion is one of the biggest names in history for what he has done in eight divisions but with all due respect, only Linares and I will be in the ring that night and both of us are going to put all of our effort and all of our heart to come out with our hand raised. The corner he has, in all honesty is one to be admired, I admire it. I am going to be honest, in my opinion and in my eyes, the best trainer in the world is Romulo Quirarte.”
Quirarte, who in over 30 years as a trainer has trained a number of champions including Julio Cesar Chavez, Raul “Jibaro” Perez and Jose Luis Castillo among others, also praises Roach but also shares the sentiment that at the end of day, only two men will face each other in the ring.
“It is very minimal,” Quirarte answers when asked the level of concern he has in looking across the ring at Roach. “Freddie Roach is my friend and I have always said he is the best trainer in the United States. I know that in the corner they have a great conditioning coach in Alex Ariza, I am conscious of that. They aren’t going in the ring to the work that Linares will have to do. Inside the ring it will be Antonio DeMarco and Linares. I think it’s a great challenge for us also so that we can show what we are made of.”
With his two world titles under his belt, the lone loss and Roach in his corner, it is no surprise that Linares is the favorite. DeMarco realizes why Linares would be expected to win.
“I am going to put a bet on myself, just kidding,” he says with a laugh. “It is logical that he is the favorite. It doesn’t affect me at all or get in my head. It is logical that he is the favorite since he has been a two-time world champion and I am a two-time interim champion and logically his record shows it, he was a full-fledged champion and he deserves to be the favorite but here comes the real test, he will climb into the ring with more pressure because he is marked as the favorite.”
Recently, Linares went on record that he would knock out DeMarco. As always, DeMarco took the talk in stride and again as always, took the high road, “I never talk more than normal, I am very respectful, I feel that this is a gentleman’s sport. Out of the ring, we are all human beings, we can talk and inside the ring, we are enemies because each of us wants to win, it’s logical. At the end of the fight, we give each other a hug, we congratulate each other and everything goes back to normal. This is a gentlemen’s sport but i will say that I am going to win, I want to win however I can. I think he dares to say that he is going to knock me out because he is secure and that is a good thing because that motivates me even more and it motivates me to show him that it is not going to happen. What he has said doesn’t really bother or worry me much because there is a saying, words are easily taken by the wind.”