by David P. Greisman
HBO boxing analyst Larry Merchant is in Atlantic City, N.J., for tonight’s “World Championship Boxing” broadcast featuring lightweight titleholder Antonio DeMarco vs. Adrien Broner.
Merchant spoke with BoxingScene.com about the fight on Friday afternoon, shortly after the boxers weighed in.
BoxingScene.com: What do you need to see from Adrien Broner to show that he belongs on this stage?
Merchant: “I need to see a good fight. I need to see him fight a guy who’ll fight back and see how he deals with it. I just want to see him in a good fight, and that’s hopefully what we’ll get. Or even if it’s a one-sided fight, how does he go about it, and is he in the same category as a Mayweather and a De La Hoya, both of whom moved, transitioned from 130 to 135 with a lot of promise and came to fulfill it.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you think of Broner’s competition to date?
Merchant: “I don’t think that he’s fought any seriously serious opponents yet. I think Mayweather and De La Hoya had fought some serious guys. There were more serious guys around at that time in the 130s. But everybody has their own path, and it doesn’t mean that he can’t reach that kind of high plateau, and it doesn’t mean that he will.”
BoxingScene.com: Is DeMarco one of those serious guys, or is he just what’s there at 135?
Merchant: “I think most of us consider him to be the lightweight champion of the world, not the lightweight titleholder. And if he’s the best one out there, he’s the best one out there. But whether Broner is still too good or even the best lightweight, we’ll find out, and we’ll find out how he goes about it.”
BoxingScene.com: How do you see the fight going?
Merchant: I think that DeMarco will try to box him and look to surprise him occasionally and see how he deals with his kind of sudden power. And I think Broner will try to walk him down and hurt him and go through him.”
BoxingScene.com: Why do you think DeMarco will try to box him instead of brawling?
Merchant: “Because I think that’s what we’ve seen him do against other guys early in fights. He’s not a guy who just comes out at brawls. His fight that happened in the last fight [against John Molina], when he hit a guy and the guy went down, and it was the end of the fight. He’s tough, but he’s not a guy who goes out to prove how tough he is every minute of every round. Maybe in the rhythm and narrative of the fight, he feels he can do that and has to do that, but that’s not who he’s been in his big fights.”
BoxingScene.com: Why do you see Broner going through DeMarco?
Merchant: “Maybe DeMarco’s style is made for Broner. Maybe he can hurt him early. And I think that’s possible. I think Broner is really strong at this weight. He’s not moving up in weight. He’s fighting at his most natural weight at this time. He only fought at 130 four or five times. All the other times, he’s been a lightweight. This is the natural weight for him, and he’s very strong at this weight.”
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]