Lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco, one of boxing's toughest fighters at 135 pounds, grabbed his piece of the crown by beating Jorge Linares in October 2011 in what has to be one of the bloodiest title fights ever. After trailing for most of the first three-quarters of the fight, DeMarco (27-2-1, 20 KOs) unleashed a series of combinations that stopped a blood-soaked Linares dead in his tracks, prompting a shocking stoppage and a huge upset.
After a rematch with Linares failed to materialize, DeMarco scored a spectacular knockout in a tune-up fight in March, and now he gets ready to make his first title defense against a tough division challenger. John Molina (24-1, 19 KOs), one of the heaviest punchers at 135, will take his shot at DeMarco on the undercard of Saturday's Andre Ward-Chad Dawson super middleweight title fight at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.
Here's what Molina had to say about Saturday's challenge:
How was training for this fight?
Training was wild, man! We had a great camp; we've been there for almost nine weeks. We did a great job, sparring with a lot of southpaws. We're very well-prepared.
What do you know about Antonio DeMarco?
Antonio is nothing but a warrior, which goes hand in hand with my own style. I expect no less from Antonio DeMarco but to come out and have a great fight. He can be behind on points and still put on a fight. But I believe we're well-prepared, and my determination is going to be able to exceed his.
You're a puncher facing a guy who takes a lot of punches. Are you going to look for a KO?
I absolutely know that I have a better knockout percentage and I will try to take advantage of it. But up until then, I will stick to the strategy and do what I am prepared to do. I believe the fight will not go 12 rounds. So, yes, if the knockout is there, I will definitely seize the opportunity.
You had a slow recovery after your 2009 decision loss to Martin Honorio. Do you consider yourself a better fighter now?
On that defeat ... I was very much under the weather. I was sick with the flu, and I don't want to disrespect Martin Honorio, but I know that if I had been at 100 percent, the fight wouldn't have lasted three rounds. It was unfortunate what happened. It was a good learning experience, but now I am 100 percent healthy and I am not going to be throwing up, with diarrhea and 100-degree fever like I was in that fight.
Is this title shot a chance for progress and to test what level you're at, or do you see it as the beginning of a long championship run?
I believe this fight will catapult me to the next level where I need to be. It's the opportunity of a lifetime, and I am very thankful to Antonio DeMarco for having the courage to step up to the plate and give me the opportunity, and I believe I will be here to stay. I've been slowly making my way through the ranks, and now it's time to take what's mine.
Where do you see yourself in the picture at 135 pounds right now?
I see myself as the hardest puncher in the world in my division. I see myself sitting on top of that heap. I never claimed to be the most technically sound fighter, but I have the style that makes the fans happy, so I believe that's going to speak for itself.
Do you see yourself fighting at lightweight for a long time?
My weight situation is right on, and we're right on schedule for 135. The 135 mark is no problem for me; I can make the weight with no problems. It all depends on where my management wants me to go after this title fight. But like you said, there are big names coming up to this division like Yuriorkis Gamboa, Adrien Broner and others. I would like to fight [England's] Ricky Burns also, and bring his WBO title home to the United States.
What kind of statement would you like to make on a card as big as this, in front of so many people?
It's not going to be my first time on a big card. I already fought at the Staples Center [in a KO of Efren Hinojosa in 2009], and I fought under Ward before at the Oracle Arena [in a 2009 TKO of Frankie Archuleta], and we sold out the crowd. Being under the lights and in front of so many people is where I shine the most, so to me it doesn't matter if it's in my backyard or in Oakland or any other venue.
What would you like people to see in you that they haven't seen so far?
I don't want to show my cards too early, but we're going to showcase a lot of new things that the world needs to see. I believe that what I do, I do well, and people are going to see that, but multiplied by a hundred.
What other fighters do you consider role models? Who do you look up to as a fighter?
Antonio Margarito. I know everyone said that he cheated and whatnot, but I know him on a personal level and he's a great guy. In comparison, I am not comparing myself to what he did wrong, but I compare myself with his determination and his will, and that's an inspiration to me, to see how hard he fights. He'll fight to the death, and to me that's something to look up to.
What are your expectations for Saturday's fight?
It's going to be exactly what we planned it to be. A controlled pace, a controlled tempo, and that's going to play out in my favor. I see myself victorious. I don't come to this fight to lose. This is a toss-up fight. A lot of people know my style and Antonio DeMarco's style, and they know it's going to be a fight for the ages, and I believe that, as well. I believe I'll be the one walking out with the victory at the end.