Adrien Broner: I don’t think Broner has done enough to crack the pound-for-pound Top 10, including his brutal eighth-round knockout of Antonio DeMarco on Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J. His time is coming fast, though. Broner (25-0, 21 knockouts) might be the most-gifted fighter to come along since his role model Floyd Mayweather Jr. emerged as a young star in late 1990s. The brash Cincinnatian doesn’t appear to have a weakness. He’s skillful, fast, strong and – unlike Mayweather – he has a warrior spirit. DeMarco, slow and easy to hit, was made to order for Broner. Still, the coldly methodical manner in which he broke down the tough Mexican with one perfectly placed shot after another was chilling. I like Andre Ward, Nonito Donaire and Gennady Golovkin as candidates for the near-future pound-for-pound king but I think Broner might be emerging as the favorite. We’ll see how he does when he takes another step up in competition.
Antonio DeMarco: One should feel for DeMarco, who was spoon fed to two of the most-destructive fighters of this era in a span of a few years – the late Edwin Valero in 2010 and Broner on Saturday. DeMarco (28-3-1, 21 KOs) is a good fighter, as he proved by bouncing back from his horrible ninth-round knockout loss to Valero to win a major lightweight title. And no one would question his toughness: He took a lot of punishment from Broner without giving up. He just doesn’t have the ability to hang with opponents whose combination of speed, power and killer instinct can be overwhelming. Broner’s punches came so quickly that DeMarco couldn’t even see what was busting up his face, or so it seemed. It was like fighting the invisible man. Make no mistake: DeMarco took a bad beating, the type from which it isn’t easy to rebound. He’s a fighter, though. He’ll be back – and dangerous to mortal foes.
BIGGEST WINNER II
Brian Viloria: Viloria (32-3, 19 KOs) called his 10th-round knockout victory over Hernan Marquez (34-3, 25 KOs) on Saturday in Los Angeles the greatest of his decorated career because he was able to unify two major titles for the first time, an important accomplishment. It was HOW he won that was truly special, though. The mighty flyweight from Hawaii seemed to be on the verge of collapsing under a barrage of hard punches on three occasions in a riveting fight, only to put Marquez down each time, the last time for good. The drama was breathtaking. Too bad relatively few people saw it. The Viloria-Marquez card was televised on WealthTV, which should be applauded for investing in boxing. However, the fight should’ve been on a premium channel. Viloria is small, one reason TV folks overlook him, but here’s the bottom line: Pound for pound, he’s one of the most exciting fighters in the world. Put him on HBO or Showtime; the fans will love him.
Sports Arena card: I was told when I arrived at the Sports Arena, the ancient former home of the Los Angeles Lakers near downtown L.A., that I wouldn’t have a table on which to do my work and would have to sit behind about a dozen rows of fans. I thought about leaving, which would’ve allowed me to make it home in time to watch the Broner-DeMarco fight live. I decided to stay because of my respect for Viloria, a tremendous fighter and one of the nicest people in boxing. Man, I’m glad I did. In the co-feature, the amazing Roman Gonzalez (34-0, 28 KOs) and surprisingly tough Juan Estrada (22-2, 18 KOs) gave us a Fight of the Year candidate. The junior flyweights exchanged hard, accurate punches at a hair-raising pace that had me shaking my head and the crowd going nuts. Gonzalez won a one-sided decision but both fighters made a strong impression. That was followed by the thrilling Viloria-Marquez fight. I’m grateful I was there.
Carl Froch: Yusaf Mack (31-5-2, 17 KOs) was never destined to give Froch (30-2, 22 KOs) much trouble Saturday in Nottingham, England, Froch’s hometown. The Philadelphian is a good fighter but has made a habit of coming up well short in his biggest fights. He seemed to fight with little confidence on Saturday. That’s not Froch’s problem, though. One of the sport’s most-exciting figures overwhelmed another capable opponent with his controlled savagery, quickly gaining Mack’s respect with his underrated boxing ability and power before ending matters with a debilitating left to the gut in the third round. Froch’s performance couldn’t match his stunning destruction of Lucian Bute but, as usual, it was fun to watch. I hope a rematch with Mikkel Kessler or Bute arrives quickly.
Light heavyweight Tony Bellew (19-1, 12 KOs) almost shut out Argentine Roberto Bolonti (30-2, 19 KOs) on the Froch-Mack undercard, which was no surprise. However, the Liverpudlian had to fight almost the entire 36 minutes with a horrible cut above his eye. He simply went about his business and never panicked, which was impressive. He’s a good prospect. … Angelo Santana (14-0, 11 KOs) might become the most-entertaining Cuban-born fighter since Jose Napoles. We’re used to seeing technicians emerge from the Cuban amateur system, guys like Erislandy Lara and Guillermo Rigondeaux. Santana is different. He rips people apart, as he did during his fifth KO of previously unbeaten Juan Garcia (13-1, 8 KOs) in five rounds Friday in Miami. He knows how to box but throws vicious punches meant to do significant damage. Keep your eye on him. … Kudos to Johnathon Banks (29-1-1, 19 KOs) for his second-round KO of Seth Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KOs), which instantly made Banks a player in the heavyweight division. But should we really be surprised? Banks is a solid pro; Mitchell is a relatively crude late starter who is nothing more than a prospect. We knew this would happen.