Shaw: Adrien Broner is a Tough Fight for Antonio DeMarco
by David P. Greisman
Gary Shaw sat in the Circus Maximus Theater in Atlantic City, N.J., where his lightweight titleholder, Antonio DeMarco, had just made weight for his Nov. 17 defense against Adrien Broner.
With the fight barely a day away, Shaw spoke with BoxingScene.com about making DeMarco vs. Broner and how he thinks the fight will go.
BoxingScene.com: How difficult or easy was it to make this fight, to get the money and everything right after DeMarco won in mid-September — and when Broner was still in need of an opponent for mid-November?
Shaw: “This is the first time that I think I can say it was an easy and difficult time. It was easy to make it with HBO. The fight was made in, I don’t know, 20 minutes under Ken Hershman’s direction. Then the problem came between Golden Boy and us, and everything they wanted, which isn’t normal. But DeMarco wanted the fight so badly that we gave in to almost everything.
“For instance, it’s always ‘DeMarco vs.’ whoever the challenger is; any champion goes first. But they insisted Broner go first on the posters, on all the advertisements. It sounds like a little thing, but it’s disrespectful to the champion. This is an optional fight for DeMarco. We asked for options. They wouldn’t give options. DeMarco wanted the fight. We gave up on that. They insisted on drug testing. He doesn’t even take vitamins. But we did the drug testing. They wanted choice of dressing room first. We gave them choice of dressing room. Everything we asked for, we basically gave them. That’s why I said it was easy, but difficult. Tony kept saying, ‘Just make the fight.’
“They wanted a 24-foot ring, which they said was the only ring in Atlantic City. I said either there won’t be a fight in Atlantic City, or there won’t be a fight. It’s got to be a 20-foot ring. That’s where everybody fights. We’re not going to custom-taylor a fight for a fighter. I don’t think that’s what boxing is all about.”
BoxingScene.com: Why give up so much for this fight? Why did you all want this fight so badly?
Shaw: “DeMarco wanted Broner and has been telling me for about five months that he wants Broner. I didn’t think that they would really do the fight, and then when Broner called out DeMarco, it was basically made. All DeMarco had to do was win his last fight in California, which he did in spectacular fashion. I just think that Tony’s really underrated. I don’t know why, if you look at his fights, if you look at who he’s fought.
“But HBO’s basically crowned Broner. Most of the press, if not all of the press, has crowned Broner. A lot of the fans, too. So we’ll see what Antonio DeMarco’s made of, and we’ll see what Broner does with a real 135-pounder. He had trouble with [Daniel] Ponce De Leon, who was coming on up in weight. But I have supreme confidence in DeMarco. He’s fighting for all the right reasons.”
BoxingScene.com: The way the John Molina fight went in September was fortunate for DeMarco, with it ending so quickly and him not suffering any cuts. But is it too quick a turnaround, potentially, going from one training camp to another?
Shaw: “No, DeMarco always trains. He took a week off and went back in. He’s one of these guys who’s always in the gym. He could be ready in four weeks for a fight at any time.”
BoxingScene.com: You’re not worried about overtraining?
Shaw: “No. He’s in good hands, and he trained really hard for this fight. HBO asked him a question today, ‘Would he fight 12 rounds if it goes the distance?’ His answer was, ‘I could fight 24 rounds.’ I believe it. When we’re in training, every round he fought was a five-minute round.”
BoxingScene.com: How does the DeMarco of today compare to the DeMarco we saw against Jorge Linares and Edwin Valero?
Shaw: “When he fought Linares, he was actually a baby. He’s a grown man today. He’s 26 years old, and a grown man. I think the turning fight for him was actually Kid Diamond [in February 2009], where he grew up. But when he fought Valero, who I still think today is one of the toughest fighters — if I could ever choose two guys to fight, who can fight, it’d have been Valero and Ike Ibeabuchi.
“So when you think of who DeMarco’s been in with, he’s been in with Kid Diamond, then with Valero, and then everybody saw what he did in the Linares fight. I think what they don’t give Tony credit for is the damage he was doing during the rounds. He was losing the fight, there’s no question even in my mind, but when [trainer Romulo Quirarte] told him in I think the 10th round, ‘You got to go. Time is up,’ he went. He did what he had to do. He has a tremendous trainer in Romulo, in my mind one of the best trainers in the world.”
BoxingScene.com: Stylistically, what have you seen him improve on to the point that you say he’s a man now?
Shaw: “I think his punching power has greatly improved because he’s a man. When he fought Valero, as an example, he was quiet. He’d come sit here and not say a word. Now he’s come into his own. He’s a champion. He believes he’s a champion. He acts like a champion. In boxing, besides the pure skill and the fight and the styles, you got to have something in your head and something in your nuts. He’s got it. He’s got in his head, in his heart and in his nuts. To me, that’s a trifecta.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you see or not see in Broner?
Shaw: “I think Broner brings a lot of excitement to boxing. I think he’s a great self-promoter. I have a lot of respect for him and what he’s done. I give a lot of credit to HBO. They built him into a star by allowing him to fight certain fighters. But nevertheless, I think he’s very talented and skilled. He tries to act like Floyd [Mayweather], but he’s not Floyd. There’s only one Floyd. Broner will eventually just be Broner, and that’ll be good for him. But I don’t think he’s as fast as he appears. I think Linares was a faster fighter. We’ll see all that on Saturday. But I can’t say anything derogatory about Broner. I’d like to promote him myself. He’s a great act.”
BoxingScene.com: Is he a tough fight for DeMarco?
Shaw: “Yes. Stylistically he’s a tough fight. Tony’s like anybody, he’ll go in there and just straight bang with him. Tony, in all my years in boxing, is one of the top five finishers in the world. He gets you hurt, you’re finished. Just like the fight against Molina, once he realized he had him hurt, he ran across the ring. He was in his own corner when Molina was against the ropes on the other side, but he sensed it. There are a lot of fighters, they’ll get another fighter hurt and admire their work. They can’t finish their canvass. Tony’s one of the best.
“The question is, stylistically, will he be able to hit Broner like he wants to hit Broner? That’ll be a question. Will Broner be able to land on DeMarco? Will he be one of the first to really hurt DeMarco? It’s a great fight. Everybody said we’re 70-30 underdogs. I always thought maybe it was 60-40 Broner. Today as I sit here, I think it’s 60-40 DeMarco.”
BoxingScene.com: Are you nervous?
Shaw: “Yeah. I’m always nervous when my fighters fight. I’m particularly nervous with DeMarco, because he’s like a child to me. I’ve had him since he’s been a baby. I had him when he had his first loss. I guess his background is the thing that plays on me more than anything else — the fact that he was walking the streets and eating out of garbage and taking handouts. The fact that he kept calling his parents and making up a story that he was OK, when truly he wasn’t.
“When you see him and his sincerity, when you talk to him one-on-one, he’s special. He’s special. And sometimes I want a fighter to win because it’s another world championship for my fighter, GSP and my team and whatever. This is one of those times I want him to win for Antonio DeMarco. I really do.”
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]