By Jake Donovan
For the past few months, Antonio DeMarco eyed a big fight in the summertime. The timeline remains intact, even if not at the level the former lightweight champion hoped to return.
DeMarco is penciled in to headline an August 23 card at Tecate Arena in Tijuana, Mexico. An opponent has yet to be sought for the fight, which will air live on TV Azteca.
The stay-busy bout comes after failed attempts to secure fights with 140 lb. titlist Jessie Vargas or fellow former lightweight titlist Brandon Rios, both of whom appear in separate bouts on an August 2 show in Las Vegas. DeMarco (30-3-1, 23KO) was angling to land a spot on the show, and at one point was considered the frontrunner to land the fight with Vargas, who won a title this past April.
Instead, Vargas will make the first defense of his title versus Anton Novikov, in the opening bout of a split-site tripleheader. His fight serves as the co-feature attraction at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. Headlining the show, Rios returns to the ring for the first time since last year’s loss to Pacquiao, as he faces Diego Chavez.
DeMarco and Rios traded barbs in the media, with hopes for such a fight landing if only to continue the rivalry between their trainers. DeMarco has been training at Wild Card Gym under the careful watch of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, who never hesitates to take a shot at Rios’ chief second, Robert Garcia or anyone in his stable.
The war of words between the fighters began when Rios openly criticized yet another high profile fight targeted for DeMarco, who was once rumored to land the June 14 assignment in Brooklyn versus Ruslan Provodnikov. The fight instead went to Chris Algieri, who upset Provodnikov in a split decision after surviving a pair of opening round knockdowns and a grotesquely swollen shut right eye.
Despite coming up empty in three separate chances at a big fight, DeMarco remains upbeat about the future as he eyes a title run at 140 lb.
The former lightweight titlist has won two straight since his Nov. ’12 title-losing knockout at the hands of Adrien Broner. Both fights have taken place in his hometown of Tijuana, including a 2nd round knockout of Jesus Gurrola in his most recent performance this past January.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox