Adrien Broner cemented his standing as one of the top young fighters in all of boxing Saturday night in Atlantic City, systematically breaking down lightweight champion Antonio DeMarco en route to an eighth-round TKO victory.
It was a coming-out party for the Cincinnati native, who was simply too quick, too strong and too powerful for the former champion. With the win, Broner earned himself the WBC lightweight championship, the second title of his career.
This was a good ol' fashioned beat-down. Both fighters started out the fight slowly, loading up with big shots but rarely putting together any combinations. As the rounds went on Broner became more active, content to fight on the inside, where he was able to shred the game, but outclassed, DeMarco with sharp punches.
The fight really began to get out of hand starting in the fifth round, where DeMarco ate a frightful number of big shots. Even without a knockdown you could easily make an argument for it being a 10-8 round. After the round DeMarco's corner was already talking of stopping the fight. Their fighter was clearly too brave for his own good, and taking a frightful amount of punishment.
The end came, mercifully, in the Round 8 when Broner connected with a huge left uppercut that floored DeMarco, prompting DeMarco's corner to literally wave a white flag of surrender and stopping the bout.
Speaking with HBO's Larry Merchant after the fight, Broner was his usual confident self.
"I knew coming into this fight he was gonna come to fight. He's a world-class fighter," Broner said. "Coming into this fight I knew he wouldn't have the skills and the will to beat me."
With the win the sky is the limit for the sometimes brash, but always entertaining, Broner—a fact with which he is well aware.
"To be honest, no disrespect Larry, I wanted to make a statement that anybody that fight Adrien Broner and sign that contract has stepped in some doo-doo they can’t get off the shoe."
While Broner took care of business in the main event, there was one major upset on the undercard.
Johnathan Banks, channeling the spirit of his mentor, the late great Emanuel Steward, turned in the performance of his career by dropping heavily favored Seth Mitchell three times in the second round en route to a TKO victory.
Banks (29-1-1 19 KO) was a massive underdog who few, if any, gave a chance to win against Mitchell, who was considered the next great American heavyweight hope.
Mitchell started out the fight strong, hurting Banks to the body in the opening round. It appeared that Banks was going to have to do something dramatic to keep the bigger and obviously stronger fighter off of him.
And boy did he accomplish that mission. In the ring with HBO’s Larry Merchant after the fight, Banks was effusive in his praise for the man who helped get him here.
“The role of Emanuel Steward played was in my life and fighting is my life. And I want to dedicate this to him. I dedicate this to Emanuel Steward, never forgotten and we’re going to miss him.”
Banks, who has recently made news for his training ability and not his boxing, spoke like a trainer in analyzing the knockout.
“Honestly I didn’t see any openings. But I felt when I hit him I hurt him and he didn’t grab hold like he should have.”
In a dose of irony, Banks could well end up facing the fighter whom he has spent a career sparring (and recently training) with, heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
When asked in the ring by Merchant if he knew how to fight Wladimir, Banks responded matter of factly.
“Yes I do. I made a living of knowing how to fight him.”
For Seth Mitchell (25-1-1 19 KO) it is back to the drawing board after an absolutely stunning defeat.
“He caught me. I definitely felt I won the first round. Caught him with some shots he felt. He did what he was supposed to do and caught me with a shot,” Mitchell said.
Saturday night was supposed to be the coming-out party for the next big American heavyweight. Perhaps it was and we were just wrong about which one.