By Jake Donovan
Antonio DeMarco's latest performance showed that a new weight class and trainer are a good fit. With Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach in his corner and a few extra pounds of muscle on his frame, the former lightweight titlist tore through Jesus Gurrola in their main event, scoring a second round knockout Saturday evening in Tijuana, Mexico.
The bout marked DeMarco's second foray above the lightweight limit, weighing just over 143 lb.
DeMarco made a statement in the opening round, which began at a measured pace but quickly picked up steam. A right hook late in the round forced Gurrola to stumble backwards, to where only the ropes prevented his fall. The sequence was correctly ruled a knockdown, with Gurrola forced to take an eight count despite his unsuccesful plea of having tripped over DeMarco's foot.
Gurrola attempted to brawl his way back into the fight in round two, but the tactic left him as a sitting duck for DeMarco's sharp-shooting tactics. Jabs were fired in repeitiion, perfectly setting up the fight ending sequence. A straight left hand floored Gurrola hard late in round two, once again taking an eight count.
The shot was enough to beat the fight out of Gurrola, spitting out his mouthpiece as the referee waved off the contest.
The official time was 2:58 of round two.
DeMarco improves to 30-3-1 (23KO), scoring his second straight win following his title-losing knockout to Adrien Broner in Nov. '12.
Gurrola falls to 20-6 (9KO), suffering the first stoppage loss of his career.
The most popular question following the win, of course, will be where DeMarco goes from here. The Tijuana-based southpaw enjoyed a stay of just over a year as lightweight titlist until running into then-unbeaten Broner, who was moving up in weight for their HBO-televised title fight in Atlantic City.
DeMarco came back slowly in 2013, going through a complete makeover in and out of the ring. Having previously fought under the Gary Shaw Productions banner, the Mexican boxer entered a deal with local promoter Fernando Beltran's Zanfer Promotions. Saturday marked his second with Mexico's largest promoter, and his debut with Roach in his corner. DeMarco began training at the famed Wild Card Gym last December after a career - pro and amateur - spent with cornerman Romulo Quirate.
Both of his comeback fights have taken place in between the super lightweight and welterweight limit, having outgrown the lightweight division.
With contineud success, his newfound relationship with Zanfer will mean a path towards the top 140 and 147 lb. fighters within the Top Rank stable. Among those challenges include Tim Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Brandon Rios, Mike Alvarado, and of course the biggest prize Top Rank has to offer in none other than Manny Pacquiao.
DeMarco will have to keep winning and increase his competition in the process for any of those bouts to be other than a cashout opportunity. With more performances like Saturday night and further developing chemistry with Roach, the still prime boxer - mere days removed from his 28th birthday - can easily punch his way right back into contention.
GARCIA SHINES IN CHIEF SUPPORT
Unbeaten welterweight prospect Rodrigo Garcia emerged victorious in the UniMas-televised co-feature with a fourth round stoppage of Claudinel Lacerna.
The mismatch played out exactly as expected on paper. Garcia was in control for the duration before putting away the struggling Lacerna - winless outside of his native Brazil - with a series of right hands.
The official time was 2:17 of round four.
Garcia advances to 15-0 (10KO), scoring his fourth straight knockout. Lacerna falls to 16-10 (12KO), having now lost eight of his last ten contests.
TV AZTECA UNDERCARD
Welterweight prospect Abner Lopez edged Humberto Gutierrez in their 10-round bout, which - given the restrictions of what can air on each network - served as the televised headliner on TV Azteca.
Scores were 97-93 and 96-93 in favor of Lopez (17-3, 15KO), and 95-94 for Gutierrez (29-5-2, 21KO).
The bout marked the first decision win for Lopez since his pro debut. The 23-year old Tijuana product had scored four straight knockouts entering Saturday's contest.
Local lightweight Eduardo Galindo entered uncharted territory but still managed to remain unbeaten, scoring a fifth round stoppage of Jose Valdez.
While the bout wasn't competitive, Galindo was forced to work much harder than has been the case in his five consecutive knockouts entering Saturday's bout. Proof of that came in round four, when Valdez (3-9-2, 1KO), scored a surprise knockdown.
Galindo shook off the blow and came back strong in the very next round, which would prove to be the bout's last. A pair of right hands deposited Valdez into a corner, where he took an eight-count but was in no condition to continue, thus prompting a stoppage.
The official time was 2:39 of round five.
Galindo rolls to 7-0 (6KO), scoring his deepest knockout to date. His only other bout to extend beyond the opening round was in his pro debut, going the four-round distance for his lone win by decision.
Bantamweight newcomer Leonardo Baez opened up the TV Azteca telecast with a 4th round knockout of hapless Bernardino Guevara. A pair of body shots late in round four produced the lone knockdown, forcing Guevara to his knees for an eight-count before the referee to halt the contest.
The official time was 2:46 of round four.
Baez improves to 3-0 (2KO), having just turned pro last November. Guevara remains winless, falling to 0-8, including four straight knockout losses.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as the Records Keeper for the Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and a member of Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox