Well, get your popcorn ready.
After being bashed by some for facing merely OK opposition while sitting on a gold mine of talent, Adrien Broner will step up to face the man regarded by many as the top lightweight in the world, Antonio DeMarco. Of all the excellent matchups the boxing gods have presented us with this fall and winter, this is the one I am most looking forward to. I want to see how Broner responds to being in the ring with someone that will not be intimidated when recognizing he is in with a man who has greater talents. I want to see if DeMarco can get that big win that could propel him to elite status. And, last but not least, I want to see how Broner responds if he is hit by a legitimate world-class fighter.
Of course, Broner being the slick boxer that he is, we may not see how he handles being hit. And if we don't? Then that's fine. If he is truly that good to where he can completely neutralize DeMarco's offense while also punishing his opponent with shots of his own then I will tip my cap to him.
But, there is something about DeMarco, at the same time, that enamors me a little and makes me want to give him a greater chance at winning than could be warranted. He isn't a great fighter, merely a good one. Yet, I get the feeling he doesn't know that, doesn't understand that this is not his show. He will be the "opponent" on Saturday night, the B-side. We know this. But, if you're Antonio DeMarco, the WBC lightweight champion with a recent stoppage victory over Jorge Linares in a bloody good comeback, you're probably entitled to figure that some of the fuss should be about you. Perhaps this should be your show.
Nevertheless, will it matter that DeMarco has been in the ring with guys like Linares and Edwin Valero? Did he grow from those experiences, or, rather, did those fights simply display his limitations? The Valero fight was a gradual beating, save for an accidental elbow which made Valero bleed like something out of a Tarantino movie. He was clearly outclassed, and though he never quit trying, it was clear he was in over his head. Fast forward to his fight with Linares, and we see some of the same qualities on display. For a while, DeMarco couldn't catch up to his quicker opponent. Gradually, he grinded Linares down until he busted open his nose something terrible, eventually forcing the official to stop the action.
Did DeMarco improve between the Valero and Linares fights? Or, simply, was Linares just a man ready to be toppled, waiting to fall apart when facing an opponent that would dog him for a full twelve rounds?
And what about "The Problem"? Is Broner himself just a man waiting to be toppled? It's been exhaustively documented how much he struggled with Daniel Ponce de Leon. Was it just a bad night, or a foreshadowing of things to come? Broner is moving up in weight and facing his toughest opponent yet as a professional prizefighter. That's not an easy combination.
Some have referenced this to when Floyd Mayweather Jr. moved up to face Jose Luis Castillo in his first fight at lightweight. Mayweather was amazing at 130, but was quickly growing out of the division. He faced Castillo, an extremely strong, durable, and heavy handed Mexican fighter that didn't give any quarter in the ring, in his first bout at lightweight. It resulted in Mayweather's toughest test to date, something some fans will point to when Mayweather brags about being undefeated. For the sake of total honestly, I must point out I feel Castillo was superior to DeMarco. That's not disrespect to DeMarco, I just hold Castillo in very high esteem.
Nevertheless, regardless of the weight, I feel this is Broner's fight to lose. Some men lose something when they move up, others gain. I think Broner gains. He is very big for 130, and I think him missing weight the last time was not just all about laziness. I do think he was having legitimate issues with making the junior lightweight limit, and made the decision not to push himself too hard because he knew the show would still go on. It was unprofessional, but I do think the weight was a legitimate problem (no pun intended).
So, here we are. One fight that will have heavy ramifications for each man and for the sport of boxing. Will we have the birth of another Mexican star that fights with an unbridled passion? Or, rather, will Broner and his brush take another leap toward stardom in America? My money is on the latter.