Lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs) is confident he will be able to successfully defend his title Saturday against undefeated American challenger Adrien Broner (24-0, 20 KOs). The fight will be the main event from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. (HBO, 10 p.m. ET/PT).
ESPN.com recently caught up with DeMarco during the final days of training camp in Tijuana, Mexico, leading up to the fight:
How are you feeling, and how is your emotional state just a few days before the fight?
Happy, anxious to get in the ring and do what I love to do [and] give a good fight to all the fans and come out with my hand raised, God willing.
What do you think of your opponent?
I don't think about him. I am focused on doing my job and completing a good preparation to give a good performance and get the victory Saturday night.
But you must know something about Broner. His style is similar to that of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Is that good or bad for you?
I do believe he'll be a tough challenge. Broner is a dangerous rival, very talented, with lots of mobility. I respect him a lot. He has a lot of talent, and it's good for me, as a champion, to face the best. I hope to consolidate myself in the lightweight division and wait for bigger and better things in my career.
We've already seen that he can get in trouble against lefties, just as happened in his fight against Daniel Ponce De Leon [Broner won a disputed unanimous decision in March 2011]. Do you consider this an advantage?
It's possible, although no two fights are ever alike. I'm more focused on my work than on whatever my opponent can do. I feel very confident about my physical condition, my maturity. Good things are happening to me, and I'm hoping to continue this trend.
Broner has knocked out his past four opponents, and he claims you will be the fifth in a row. Do you believe he has what it takes to score a KO against you?
Honestly, I respect this sport a lot, because one lucky punch can finish your entire preparation. Anyone who jumps in the ring is risking a serious possibility of being finished with one punch. We are all aware of that, but believe me, I am very hungry, I want to succeed and I will work in that ring so that doesn't happen to me.
What would you say is the main reason why you would defeat Broner?
I am the champion of the world, simple as that. I want to show the fans and myself why I got this championship belt.
Do you feel that people still doubt you as a champion?
Yes, there will always be doubts, but this motivates me to put in extra effort in the ring. It's an additional motivation that allows me to go forward.
Have you found the right sparring partners for this fight, or someone remotely resembling Broner?
No, and I believe that's impossible because there are no sparring partners who fight like Broner or DeMarco. But I'm not worried about that, because we have a plan to overcome that, and it's fair to say that even though they don't fight like Broner, my sparring partners have made me work very hard.
You have improved since you lost to Edwin Valero. You seem to be more confident. Why?
I swear, I don't even know. This is all very nice -- you mature, you improve. I have a different mentality; good things are happening and you don't even realize it. But then you start moving on and gaining experience. That was a defeat that taught me a lot -- I would say it was my graduation -- and I wouldn't change it for anything. Just like my other tough fights, it has given me confidence and calmness to fight a talented fighter like Broner. I feel strong, physically and mentally, thanks to that.
How important has your family and your team been in your progress?
I will be honest: Nobody in this life can do something by himself; we always need help from someone. And I am very grateful for my team, my promoter, my family, with the families who have adopted me here in Tijuana. All this I am going through, they deserve it more than me. Because they encouraged me, they supported me when I didn't even have a bowl of soup, and I always ask God to continue giving me things so I can help all those people, because I owe them a lot.
Do you believe you have to knock out Broner to beat him, or do you see yourself making your game plan work if the fight goes the distance?
No, I would like to end it like the fight with John Molina Jr. [in a first-round knockout]. But jokes aside, the KO will not come by itself. You have to work for it, you can't force it. You have to work to get it. It's a lie to say you'll come out and do it, because it only happens as the fight progresses. I only ask for a good fight, and may the best man win.
Have you ever faced someone who you considered as dangerous or perhaps more dangerous than Broner?
Yes, believe me, and that was Kid Diamond [Almazbek Raiymkulov]. It was my first opportunity to be on TV, with Showtime [in February 2009]. He was a very complicated opponent, and I had a different mentality. It was a very tough fight, and he was an opponent with a very difficult style, but at the end I got the victory.
Is there anything you're worried about with regard to Saturday's fight?
Nothing worries me. I am on weight, I feel great mentally and physically, and I'm strong. In my mind, I have only the idea of winning and I don't care how. But I must win this fight, because it's very important for my career.
Is this your dream fight?
Yes, it's the day I dreamed about since I emigrated to Tijuana. A main event on HBO against a fighter everyone sees as the favorite. A dream come true, and I hope it's my best night.
Do you feel comfortable being the underdog?
Without a doubt. I've been the underdog in all my fights, and that motivates me. I am a stubborn person, and I like to show myself and everyone else that you can achieve anything in this life, because we're not better or worse than anyone. We are all equal.
How is this last week before the fight?
Very peaceful. It's when we cool down after training camp. It's for relaxing the body and just sweating enough to make weight and stay focused.
Mexican fans love fighters who brawl and leave everything in the ring, and there are some great champions who embody those concepts. Are there any among them you compare yourself to?
None of them, because I'm not at their level. Mexico has some outstanding fighters. I love [Julio Cesar] Chavez, [Marco Antonio] Barrera, [Erik] Morales, [Juan Manuel] Marquez. But I am not worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence with them, and I have to work a lot -- a whole lot -- if I want to get near them at least a little bit, and that's the mentality I need to continue having if I want to move forward.
Would you have liked to face one of them?
Sure. Those are the challenges that I crave as a fighter, and there are many fighters who would love to fight them and demonstrate at least what level they're at.
Facing Juan Manuel Marquez, for example, would be a dream come true, because I love how Marquez fights, his intelligence in the ring. And testing myself against him would be fabulous.