by Kieran Mulvaney
There were those who thought that Antonio DeMarco would, at the very least, ask demanding questions of Adrien Broner in Atlantic City on Saturday night. Not surprisingly, Broner was not one of them. Every time he considered the possible permutations in advance of his challenge for DeMarco's lightweight title, he said, it just seemed easier and easier.
Such a statement is Broner exemplified: brash and confident to the point of arrogance. But for all Broner's loud talk outside the ring, the undefeated Cincinnati fighter has thus far been able to more than back up his words with deeds inside the ropes, and he did so again in devastating style against DeMarco, stopping the Mexican in the eighth round and maintaining his seemingly inevitable progression to the very pinnacle of the sport.
After a cautious opening round, Broner began to find the target in the second round with a fast left hook that rapidly marked up DeMarco's face. DeMarco pressed forward earnestly, but Broner looked effortless and relaxed behind a high shoulder guard, taking his time and gradually beginning the process of picking his man apart.
DeMarco came forward with greater purpose in the third, pressing Broner to the ropes and unloading combinations, but the American picked off the punches with ease, retaliating with a short left hook and a straight right that were the best punches of the frame. In the fourth, DeMarco decided his best hope was to dig in and fight inside, which ultimately proved to be the worst choice he could possibly have made. As he dug in, head down, Broner kept him at a desired distance with his left shoulder, and switched to right uppercuts to snap his opponent's head back repeatedly.
He deployed the same arsenal in the fifth, but this time with even greater effect, having decided that his one-punch-at-a-time counterpunching had softened up DeMarco sufficiently that now was the time to open up with combinations. Seemingly every punch he threw -- left hook, right uppercut, straight right -- landed, rocking DeMarco backward and sideways, and snapping his head with fearful torque.
The fighting spirit that enabled DeMarco to survive 11 losing rounds against Jorge Linares before emerging victorious kept him in the fight; although the Mexican also lost the sixth and seventh rounds, Broner began to look as if landing so many punches was beginning to wear him out just a little. In fact, the American was simply biding his time, conserving his energy for the right opportunity, and it came in the eighth, when another short combination lifted up DeMarco's head, and a right and a left sent him staggering backward and down.
It is to the Mexican's immense credit that he reacted with disappointment when his trainer stood on the ring apron and waved the towel, but surrender was the decent and honorable thing. It saved DeMarco from taking an even more fearful and prolonged beating. And it confirmed that Adrien Broner is a potential superstar in the ascendant. That's something that an increasing number of fans and writers have long maintained -- and Adrien Broner has known all along.
In the co-main event, heavyweight Johnathon Banks put the exclamation point on a remarkable week with a shocking knockout of previously undefeated Seth Mitchell. Last Saturday, Banks -- a disciple of the late, great Emanuel Steward -- assumed chief second duties in the corner of Wladimir Klitschko following Steward'sf much-mourned passing. Seven days later, he wiped out a possible future Klitschko opponent, surviving a rough opening round in which Mitchell cracked him twice with hard right hands and using 15 years of pugilistic experience to turn the fight around against an opponent who did not even begin boxing until he was 25.
After Mitchell landed a thudding right hand to the body in the second, Banks retreated to a corner and Mitchell went on the attack. Banks landed a counter right between Mitchell's wide punches, followed up with a left and another right and suddenly Mitchell crashed to the seat of his trunks against the ropes. After holding desperately, Mitchell appeared to have cleared his head, but became overeager in his attempt to fight back, leaving himself open for another counter combination that put him down again. Another Banks right hand dropped him for a third time, and with that, the fight and Mitchell's undefeated run was over -- and somewhere, Emanuel Steward was looking down and smiling proudly.