On Halloween, 2009, as Antonio Demarco was using poor Jose Alfaro as his own personal pinball, the broadcast team on Showtime began discussing a fight between he and Edwin Valero.
At the time, Demarco had been cruising; pounding on inferior opponents using his long southpaw reach, power and tenacity. Valero had at the same time been destroying everything in his path, on his way to a perfect record with knockouts in every fight.
The fight looked fantastic on paper, with many thinking Demarco could win using his boxing skills. Others weren't sure if Demarco could hold up to Valero's hurricane offense. It didn't help that Demarco seemed to view defense as an annoying hindrance to throwing bombs.
On February 6, 2010, Demarco and Valero fought on Showtime, the first and last appearance for Valero. The fight basically went in three stages. The first stage brought heated action, punctuated by a terrible gash Valero incurred as the result of an unintentional elbow from Demarco.
In the second stage, the fight became one sided; Valero started to dominate using combination punching, a surprisingly solid right hand and an even more surprisingly stout defense. The fight further devolved into a serious beating in the third act. Demarco was extremely brave, but took a ton of sustained punishment.
His trainer gave him several chances to rally, but the scene in his corner between the eighth and ninth rounds was somewhat scary. Demarco seemed to be teetering on losing consciousness as he slumped into his stool with his head bent forward.
Lawrence Cole was the referee that night. Cole, who wouldn't know a fighter was hurt if he were performing his autopsy, watched closely in the ninth round, but Demarco threw enough punches to convince him that he could continue. The fight was finally stopped in between the ninth and tenth rounds, giving Valero the last victory of his life.
Demarco is currently unranked by Ring Magazine in the lightweight division. Saturday night, he fights on Showtime against Reyes Sanchez. Fellow lightweights Miguel Acosta and Brandon Rios fight in the main event on the same show. The opportunity is there for Demarco to make up some ground in the division with a good performance.
He's only 25 years old, and he isn't the first fighter to take a beating in his first step up. He's been given the opportunity to come back strong on television, something that takes many fighters years to do after a bad loss. He's got two huge factors on his side—his talent, and his exciting style.
There are plenty of fighters that would make great fights with Demarco, Rios being one of them. Can he get himself back to contender status, or was Valero's last moment in the sun also Antonio Demarco's last moment near the top?