DeMarco’s road from Dumpsters to champion
Antonio DeMarco stood at a podium in the Chick Hearn Room at Staples Center in Los Angeles late Saturday night, holding his young daughter, Camilla, in his arms and fighting back tears.
His face was marked with welts and his right eye was grotesquely swollen and just about closed. He’d regained the World Boxing Council lightweight title that he had lost to Edwin Valero in 2010 with the most unlikely of stoppages, halting Jorge Linares in the 11th round of a fight he was trailing badly.
It was a magnificent bout – one that capped a stunning turnaround for DeMarco, who only a few years ago was so poor that he had to eat other people’s leftovers to survive.
“When he moved to Tijuana to learn to box, he ate out of garbage cans, out of dumpsters,” promoter Gary Shaw said. “He had to move around from place to place because he didn’t have a place to sleep, and he didn’t know where he was going to eat.”
DeMarco trailed badly on all three scorecards, 98-92 twice and 99-91, when the bout was stopped. Linares, who had spent much time sparring with Manny Pacquiao, was dominating the fight for the first five rounds or so.
DeMarco was strangely inactive, but he fought back in the sixth and made it a hellacious battle until the finish.
When DeMarco attempted to speak at the news conference, he nearly broke into tears. With his voice quivering with emotion, he said winning the belt back was the second happiest day of his life – after the birth of his daughter.
And later, thinking of what Shaw had said of his past, he said: “From eating the garbage to a world champion, I can’t believe it. I am so blessed.”
Golden Boy is pursuing a rematch for Linares. Given the action and the drama, here’s hoping it succeeds.
• No pay-per-view numbers have been announced for the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Victor Ortiz fight, which was held Sept. 17. HBO’s Mark Taffet deferred all questions to the promoters, who have yet to address the issue. The reason is simple: Mayweather-Ortiz didn’t sell as well as promoters (particularly Mayweather) had hoped. They’re waiting as long as possible in an effort to get the figure as high as possible. Multiple sources said Saturday that the fight did more than 1 million but less than the 1.3 million that May’s fight between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley did. If it hits that number, then, and only then, will it be released, I’d guess.
• Oscar De La Hoya tweeted on Saturday that Dewey Bozella’s win over Larry Hopkins inspired him to mount a comeback. Clearly, he was caught up in the moment. Later, De La Hoya wisely ended any speculation he was thinking of returning to the ring, tweeting that he is in no way returning to boxing as a fighter. Smart move, Oscar.
• I think Kendall Holt’s corner failed him on Saturday. He was taking so many clean shots that his fight with Danny Garcia should have been stopped. There was no way he was going to win the fight and no reason for him to keep getting hammered about the head.
• Garcia’s punching power has to be questioned at least a little bit, though, because he couldn’t stop or even knock Holt down despite a series of clean shots to the head.
• WBC and Ring light heavyweight Chad Dawson said he won’t go to Canada to fight a rematch with Jean Pascal. As champion, that’s his choice, but it makes little financial sense. In Canada, where Pascal is based, the fight would be a big deal and draw a large crowd. In the United States, it would get next-to-no attention and a tiny crowd.
You need to take another look at the replay of the finish of the Chad Dawson-Bernard Hopkins fight Saturday in Los Angeles. Dawson grabbed Hopkins around Hopkins’ lower thighs. This prevented Hopkins from stepping away from Dawson’s rising shoulder. A wrestler would say Dawson was loading him up for a body slam. I can’t tell you what was in Dawson’s mind. Dawson may have grabbed Hopkins’ legs to prevent Hopkins from pushing Dawson to the canvas. That would have also prevented the rising shoulder from lifting up Hopkins. Dawson complained to the referee that Hopkins was trying to push him down. The referee may not have seen it, but why are you being so kind to the referee? Are you saying that it wasn’t a foul because the referee said it wasn’t a foul? To me this is a good chance for the boxing commission to reverse a fight’s outcome on the basis of the film. It is rather clear to me that a blown call changed the outcome of the fight.
Dan, I was live at ringside and I watched the replay numerous times – and your description is completely off. You need to remember that Hopkins’ missed punch and forward momentum put him on Dawson’s shoulder. It is certainly not as if Dawson went out and shot in for a takedown as if he were Brock Lesnar. I’m not happy with the way the fight ended, but I do not see where Dawson fouled. How long is he expected to stand there with Hopkins draped over his shoulder? Let’s say that instead of falling to the mat, Hopkins twisted his knee and tore his ACL and MCL when he tried to punch Dawson. If he couldn’t continue in that scenario, it would be ruled a TKO loss. And that is the same as what happened on Saturday. I believe the referee made the right call.
The only justice to Saturday’s atrocious display of unprofessional behavior in a sanctioned professional bout, is for the outcome to be ruled a “no contest” when it is clear that Chad Dawson deliberately fouled Bernard Hopkins by sweeping his leg while tossing him to the canvas which, by the way, culminated in a career threatening injury for Hopkins. Hopkins, a lock for Boxing’s Hall of Fame, deserves redemption, and so do the fans of the sport. If Chad gets to keep this belt that he did not earn, I’m done with this sport.
As I said earlier, I think this was the appropriate call by the referee, as disappointing and deflating as it was. But here’s the problem: The California State Athletic Commission only has jurisdiction over the outcome of the bout. It has no say over the title. The WBC has jurisdiction over whom it awards its belt to, but not over the result of the bout. So even if one or the other acts, there are going to be a lot of disappointed folks.
In your column on Saturday’s fight, you wrote, “Boxing fans deserve far better than they got Saturday.” Since when does anyone involved with running boxing care about the fans? All these high-price pay-per-views have been garbage: We had the Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley glove-touching festival, Floyd Mayweather-Victor Ortiz essentially without a third man in the ring, and now this joke. How many more fans does boxing have to lose until it wakes up? This is not 1990. There are too many alternatives (MMA) to keep putting on this overpriced crap.
I think there are far more good things than bad happening in boxing. But when something like this happens, I can’t help but think of what UFC president Dana White would have done. I have repeatedly heard White say when a fight ends in this kind of manner, “I’ll make it up to the fans.” On Saturday, I believe either of the fight’s promoters, Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy or Gary Shaw of Gary Shaw Productions, should have said, “I’m sorry the bout ended this way. We’ll make this up to the fans and put a rematch on free television.” Instead, it was like, Oh well, you took the risk; you knew that could happen. That’s the part that bothered me. If you treat your customers with respect, they’ll remain your customers. Many boxing promoters seem to have forgotten that.
Kevin, I’m 58 and a lifelong boxing fan who is absolutely disgusted with the state of the sport today. Not only is very little being done to make the sport safer for the athletes (head gear in bouts, safer gloves, standardization of rules for referees, for example), but unsportsmanlike conduct and WWE-style behavior seems to be tolerated. Do you see anything on the horizon that can bring the sport into the 21st century and, at the same time, attract new contestants and fans?
Gerry, let me start by saying that many studies have shown that headgear makes boxing less safe, not more. That said, there are a lot of great things happening in boxing and a lot of wonderful stories. It’s only being dragged down by some high-profile incidents. A good way to solve the problems, though, is for promoters to consistently pit the best against the best; for there to be fewer pay-per-view shows; for the price to drop on the PPVs which are offered; and for promoters to find a way to maintain the integrity of the championships.
“We have informed George Dodd, the executive director of the California State Athletic Commission, that we will file a protest. Our attorneys, together with Bernard’s attorneys, are working on it today. We want to achieve three things. We want to ask the California Athletic Commission to overturn the decision and we want the WBC and The Ring to continue to recognize Bernard as their champion.” – Richard Schaefer, Golden Boy Promotions CEO, on the outcome of the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson fight.
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