Questions about Adrien Broner persist, but following an arresting performance last night at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey, those questions have taken on a decidedly different tone.
Over eight clinical rounds, Broner brutalized sturdy Antonio DeMarco, closing the curtain on a captivating performance with a barrage of punches as evil as they were accurate. With their fighter outclassed, outgunned, and on the canvas for the first time in his career, DeMarco’s corner threw in the towel, the official time of the stoppage coming at 1:49 of the eighth round.
The consensus before the fight was that DeMarco, Los Mochis, Mexico, represented Broner’s first legitimate threat: a tall, hard-punching, durable and resolute southpaw. But the logic of violence is not influenced by the popular narrative. DeMarco may have represented the sternest test of Broner’s career, but that is not the same as saying DeMarco was a stern test. He was not. Broner dismantled him.
The fight started slowly. DeMarco, 134 1/2, looked to pry Broner out of his defensive shell by throwing his long left hand, while Broner probed with his jab, pondering his approach from a distance. Few punches were thrown by either man, but when they were the discrepancy in speed was blatant. Compared to Broner, DeMarco moved with the speed of a flower turning toward the sun. In a particularly ominous exchange, the speedy Broner parried DeMarco’s jab with his left hand and struck DeMarco with a left jab in one fluid movement. Whatever message was embedded in that display of hand speed, it may have discouraged DeMarco, who inexplicably chose not to followup when he discomfited Broner with a sharp left hand later in the round.
DeMarco committed to the body in the third round, landing a number of thudding right hooks, but this success would be his last. Like a student who reads every question on the test, devising a strategy before setting about the answers, Broner spent the first couple of rounds studying his opponent. In the third and fourth rounds, having determined his best plan of attack, he proceeded to chop DeMarco, 28-2-1 (21), up. Broner took the fight to the taller man, jabbing his way inside and unloading to the body and head. Some thought that DeMarco could make life difficult for Broner on the inside, that if a fight broke out, it would be DeMarco who would find comfort in the fury. What transpired was quite to the contrary.
Wielding shorter arms and faster hands, Broner went to work on the inside. DeMarco accommodated his foe with a lack of head movement that allowed Broner, 134 1/2, to bury home a number of ruinous combinations. This cranial availability was compounded by a baffling lack of activity from DeMarco, who spent large portions of each round languishing inside the kill zone, his arms at his side like a wilting cactus, neither protecting himself nor issuing any threat. The punches DeMarco did manage to throw were largely delivered in single serving offerings. A combination from him was harder to find than a monosyllabic name in a Russian novel. Broner, Cincinnati, Ohio, would either slip the return fire or absorb it on the gloves before responding with his own shots. A particularly nifty trick from Broner involved him leaning back on the inside and baiting DeMarco into bending forward, where the Mexican would be fed uppercuts for extending his head. After a particularly discouraging fifth round, DeMarco’s corner, which displayed genuine compassion for their man throughout the contest, reiterated the message being delivered by the action—that a fight this one-sided would be stopped, if not by fist then by duty. Three non-competitive rounds later, when no one needed to see anymore, fist and duty reached an agreement.
The ease with which Broner, 25-0 (21), dispatched DeMarco—along with the animosity the fighter has fostered—may lead some to discredit his victory. This manipulation of the facts does a disservice to both men. DeMarco was the biggest puncher of Broner’s career, but save for perhaps a moment in the second round, he never discernibly hurt him; he was the toughest opponent Broner had yet faced, but that durability did little for him save extend Broner’s assault; DeMarco brought the style needed to derail Broner, but those weapons were summarily nullified. DeMarco, a wonderful story and a real prizefighter, asked the questions of Broner that needed to be answered—the problem was Broner was too good to struggle with them.
There are new questions for Adrien Broner. Like the previous ones, they are concerned with ability and potential, as his accomplishments have yet to rival his talent. None of those questions will be answered at 135 pounds. Fellow lightweight Ricky Burns, whom Broner mentioned as a possible opponent, would get steamrolled. The real test will come at 140 or 147 pounds. And if this is moving the bar on Broner, it is only because he is good enough to warrant the challenge. Time will tell if he is willing to accept it.
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