by David P. Greisman
Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City — Stardom is neither easy nor immediate, no matter how quickly some attempt to bestow it upon a fighter. It truly begins with a signature performance.
Adrien Broner had his star-making performance on Saturday night.
Against the fighter regarded as the best boxer at 135 pounds, Broner made it look easy, dismantling Antonio DeMarco for eight rounds and then dispatching him with one final flourish.
Halfway through the eighth, Broner concluded a combination with a sweeping left uppercut that sent DeMarco bouncing back and down to a knee. It was the only knockdown of the fight, but it was all DeMarco’s corner needed to see. His trainer ascended the ring steps, towel in hand, ending the fight 1 minute and 49 seconds into the round.
DeMarco was hitting Broner with very little. Broner was hitting DeMarco with virtually everything.
According to CompuBox, DeMarco landed 93 of 351 punches, or about one of every four shots. Broner, meanwhile, hit DeMarco with 241 of 451, landing at a connect rate of more than 50 percent.
You didn’t need statistics to see that Broner was winning handily.
Broner fought off his back foot in the early going, a stance that allowed him to show off both his superlative offense and his improving defensive skills. He could move away from DeMarco’s shots or block them with his arms and gloves. He could also land pinpoint punches, particularly well-timed lead right hands and counter left hooks.
One such check hook moved DeMarco in the second round, the sheer speed and force behind it showing the difference in class between Broner and the World Boxing Council’s lightweight titleholder.
DeMarco began to worry about Broner’s speed. Broner feinted with a left hook and a right hand; DeMarco visibly fell for it. Then Broner showed that the threat was real, landing a lead left hook.
DeMarco had already been made well aware of Broner’s offense. DeMarco would soon realize that his own offense couldn’t do anything against Broner’s defense.
He couldn’t hit Broner on the ropes in the third. Nor could he hit Broner on the inside in the fourth. Meanwhile Broner was still landing, and he was particularly effective with short, hard shots that were being put together with increasing frequency and in increasing combinations.
Broner would roll his shoulder, recalling Floyd Mayweather Jr., and then respond with crisp punches. Those in attendance began to respond to each shot, rising to their feet and watching this virtuoso performance.
“His shoulder roll, his defense was hard to penetrate,” DeMarco said afterward.
The fifth round, in particular, was one-sided. Over the final five rounds, Broner landed an average of 39 power shots per round — much higher than the lightweight average of 14 per round, according to CompuBox.
DeMarco stayed standing, and kept throwing — until the eighth round.
“I was shaking and baking him and flipped him up,” Broner said afterward. “I knew coming into this fight it was going to be a world-class fight, but I knew he didn’t have the skills to beat me. I wanted to make a statement tonight, and I think I did.
“He was definitely the toughest opponent I’ve fought. He was strong and could take a punch,” he said. “I don’t try to knock out people, but I know I have the ability to press him and get the cheese.”
DeMarco had won the WBC title a year ago with his upset stoppage of Jorge Linares and had defended it twice since. This loss drops the 26-year-old from Los Mochis, Mexico, to 28-3-1 with 21 knockouts.
Broner, 23, of Cincinnati, improves to 25-0 with 21 knockouts. He has now captured his second world title. A year ago, he’d picked up a vacant belt at 130 pounds by beating Vicente Rodriguez, defending it once and then dropping it after failing to make weight against Vicente Escobedo.
Now he’s established himself in a new division by taking out its top fighter with ease.
“I’ll fight anybody,” Broner said afterward. “I’m going to be running this city and sport for a long time to come.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter @fightingwords2 or send questions/comments via email at [email protected] .