(Adrien Broner dodges Antonio DeMarco; photo via HBO's Facebook page)
ATLANTIC CITY — Adrien Broner has arrived.
Saturday night, he finally took on top competition on HBO — in a new division, lightweight, no less — and he was as close to perfect as a boxer can get in taking apart the ridiculously tough Antonio DeMarco in nine rounds.
As a ratings draw, the flashy, brash Broner had already arrived. But since nearly losing to Daniel Ponce De Leon last year, he has been doing those ratings against opponents who posed almost no threat. DeMarco was an underdog coming into this fight, but he was a legitimate threat on paper. But Broner ripped that paper to bits; this fight resembled a shredder vs. a piece of 8 1/2" by 11" more than a boxing match.
They started tentatively in the 1st, with little separating them as they felt each other out. After that, it got easier for Broner and the judges scoring it. It was like the speed differential switched into a different gear in the 2nd. He was potshotting DeMarco to death. DeMarco switched tactics and tried to go inside in the 4th, but Broner got even more into "perfect fighting machine" mode, slashing and stabbing DeMarco with uppercuts, left hooks and catching nothing in return, as he used his forearm to create space and his shoulder roll defense made it so DeMarco couldn't land a thing that wasn't on Broner's back.
By the 5th, which I scored 10-8 for Broner even though there was no knockdown, it became clear that a stoppage was around the corner. The doctor checked in on DeMarco between rounds, and in the 6th, somehow, DeMarco had a decent round. Broner's punches might have been losing some steam, but they picked up again in the 7th and 8th, and a big, looping uppercut sent Broner down in the 8th. His face Freddie Krueger'ed, DeMarco's eyes looked bad as he struggled to rise. His corner stopped the fight and should have.
DeMarco was stupid, stupid, stupid tough, and I still think he's one of the best lightweights in the world. Problem is, Broner is one of the best fighters in the world. And he's getting better, still. The Floyd Mayweather imitation gets more and more accurate by the day. DeMarco figured to be a clone of De Leon, but bigger and better, except DeMarco didn't put the kind of pressure on people that De Leon does. He put as much pressure on Broner as he could've, and all it got him was a hideous beating.
"I'm going to be running this city and sport for a long time to come," Broner said afterward. The first part is debatable; there were probably between 2-3,000 people in Boardwalk Hall Saturday night. But the part about running the sport? That no longer sounds like the brash boasts of an egomaniacal kid.