Antonio DeMarco lines up July fight

Lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco will face Jorge Linares in a rematch July 7 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., as long as Linares wins an upcoming fight first.

Gary Shaw, DeMarco's promoter, and Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer, who promotes Linares, both said they have reached an agreement on the fight, which will headline a Showtime card.

However, Linares (31-2, 20 KOs), of Venezuela, must first take care of business against Sergio Thompson (21-2, 19 KOs) on March 31 in Cancun, Mexico, in order to qualify for the fight.

Mexico's DeMarco (27-2-1, 20 KOs) did his part when he made his first title defense last week and stopped Miguel Roman in the fifth round. It was the first time Roman had been stopped in any of his 10 defeats.

"DeMarco's dream of becoming a world champion was fulfilled when he beat Jorge Linares and he's not going to let anyone take it away from him," Shaw said. "The fact the he knocked out Roman for the first time in his career means he's all business.

"I'm working out the details for this fight (with Linares) to happen because I know the fans want to see these two warriors go at it again. DeMarco never backs down from the toughest challenges and he'll be ready for Linares come fight night."

DeMarco and Linares met in October for a vacant belt on the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson HBO PPV undercard at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and although Linares dominated most of the fight, DeMarco inflicted serious facial cuts on him and battered him in the late going for a stunning comeback 11th-round knockout. The rematch was mandated although both fighters were able to take interim bouts.

"I don't think that Linares has the heart that Tony has," Shaw said. "Tony has always been a slow starter but we saw what he could do at the end of their fight. So he knows what he has to do in the rematch. I told Tony to remember that Linares is going to be very, very hungry in the rematch. He said, 'Not as hungry as me.' "

Shaw said Golden Boy had dibs on Showtime's opening televised slot and tentatively plans to use it for a fight involving featherweight Gary Russell Jr., the 2011 ESPN.com prospect of the year, who first fights on a Showtime undercard April 21.