Dan Rafael: Antonio DeMarco
Former lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco traveled to the Philippines about a month ago to join trainer Freddie Roach in Manny Pacquiao’s training camp. Shortly after DeMarco’s arrival, he was shocked by what he heard on a phone call to his home in Tijuana, Mexico.
On that call, he learned that his 13-year-old sister, Mariana, had been diagnosed with bone cancer in her shoulder. DeMarco was distraught, but he plans to fight for his sister. He wants to make a statement to her that he is not a quitter and that she should also fight through her difficult situation, which includes chemotherapy treatments. DeMarco, whose boxing income helps support his family, also needs the purse the fight will provide.
DeMarco will challenge secondary junior welterweight titleholder Jessie Vargas on the Pacquiao-Chris Algieri undercard at the Venetian Macao’s Cotai Arena in Macau, China on Sunday morning. Given the time difference, HBO's live telecast will air Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET).
"When I heard the news, I nearly pulled out of this fight,” DeMarco said through a translator. “But I decided to fight in her honor. I want her to live and be the beautiful person she is."
DeMarco, 28, said his sister’s prognosis is good, but it has still been difficult for her and their family.
“We had some tough days,” Roach said. “A couple of days he started thinking about [his sister] and he was crying. He cares about his family and his sister a lot, and it was very hard for him to be away from his family and not be able to care for her. The best way to care for her is to win this fight. I think we turned it around and turned it into a positive. DeMarco is in great shape, and I expect big things out of DeMarco.”
In October 2011, DeMarco won a vacant lightweight world title against Jorge Linares, who had dominated the fight until suffering terrible cuts and was eventually stopped in the 11th round.
DeMarco went on to make two successful defenses before he was whitewashed in an eighth-round knockout loss to Adrien Broner in November 2012. After that, DeMarco (31-3-1, 23 KOs) moved up in weight and won three fights in a row to set himself up for a shot at the Roy Jones Jr.-trained Vargas (25-0, 9 KOs) of Las Vegas.
Vargas, 25, heard about the plight of DeMarco’s sister and offered him support.
"Antonio spoke to me about his sister,” Vargas said. “This is devastating news. I am praying for her as well.”
• Former two-time welterweight titlist Andre Berto's opponent is set for his Sept. 6 ring return in Cincinnati. Berto, coming back from a 14-month injury-related layoff, will face Steve Upsher Chambers in a 10-rounder at a maximum weight of 149 pounds. The fight will open a Showtime tripleheader that also includes junior welterweight Adrien Broner facing Emanuel Taylor in the main event and junior welterweight Lucas Matthysse against Roberto Ortiz in the co-feature.
Berto (28-3, 22 KOs), of Winter Haven, Florida, who turns 31 the day after the fight, is trying to end a two-fight losing streak and return from major shoulder surgery to repair an injury he suffered in a 12th-round knockout loss to Jesus Soto Karass in July 2013. Upsher Chambers (24-3-1, 6 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia, has also lost two fights in a row, an eight-round decision to former welterweight titlist Luis Collazo (whom Berto holds a close win against) and a fourth-round knockout to prospect Eddie Gomez.
• Former lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco (30-3-1, 23 KOs), now campaigning at a junior welterweight, returns to action against Lanardo Tyner (31-10-2, 20 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder on Saturday night (beIN Sports Espanol, 11 ET) in Tecate, Mexico. DeMarco, 28, of Mexico, is looking for his third win in a row since losing his lightweight belt by eighth-round knockout to Adrien Broner in November 2012. Tyner, 39, of Detroit, took the fight on just a few days' notice. He has lost two fights in a row, both by decision.
• Last Saturday's Showtime card was not a hit with viewers. The tripleheader from Carson, California, averaged just 514,000 viewers, down 11 percent from the network's average audience for the year (578,000) for "Showtime Championship Boxing." Kell Brook's decision against Shawn Porter to win a welterweight title in the main event averaged 661,000 viewers, 26 percent below Porter's last fight in April (also on Showtime). That bout, against Paulie Malignaggi, averaged 897,000 viewers. Anthony Dirrell's decision over Sakio Bika to win a super middleweight title in a rematch in the co-feature averaged 574,000 viewers, which was up 29 percent from the 446,000 viewers drawn by their December first fight on Showtime. The opener between lightweight titlist Omar Figueroa Jr. and Daniel Estrada averaged 341,000 viewers, down 37 percent from the 545,000 viewers Figueroa's last fight on Showtime, against Jerry Belmontes, drew in April.
Besides figuring out where the fight will take place, promoter Artie Pelullo told ESPN.com that he is in discussions with HBO, which will televise the bout, about an opponent -- a situation they do not see eye to eye on at the moment.
Pelullo said that he and Bob Arum, Provodnikov’s co-promoter for the next fight, want to match Provodnikov either with former lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco (30-3-1, 23 KOs) of Mexico, who has won his past two fights since moving up in weight, or Chris Algieri (19-0, 8 KOs) of Huntington, N.Y., who looked good outpointing Emmanuel Taylor on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” on Feb. 14.
“Arum and I want DeMarco or even [promoter] Joe DeGuardia’s guy, Algieri,” Pelullo said. “But HBO wants us to wait for the winner of the Thomas Dulorme-Karim Mayfield fight and we don’t want to wait another month. Besides, what happens if the guy who wins that fight gets injured or cut? We want to make a fight now and get it done as soon as possible so we can go out and sell the fight, get a site and really promote it. But we’re trying to work things out with HBO.”
Dulorme (20-1, 14 KOs) and Mayfield (18-0-1, 11 KOs) meet on March 29 in Atlantic City, N.J., on HBO on the undercard of light heavyweight titlist Sergey Kovalev’s defense against Cedric Agnew.
Provodnikov (23-2, 16 KOs) lost the 2013 fight of the year by decision to welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley Jr. but then returned to junior welterweight, went to Mike Alvarado’s hometown of Denver in October and stopped him in the 10th round of a bruising fight to win a 140-pound title.
Whomever Provodnikov faces, Pelullo said that the co-feature could be junior middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade making his first defense against mandatory challenger Brian Rose (25-1-1, 7 KOs) of England.
Pelullo and DeGuardia co-promote Andrade and are working to make a deal with Rose promoter Matchroom Sport.
“HBO tells us they are interested in Demetrius, but not really interested in that fight [with Rose],” Pelullo said. “But it’s a mandatory so we are trying to work it out.”
Andrade (20-0, 13 KOs) won a vacant title by split decision against Vanes Martirosyan on Nov. 9 on HBO, which holds the first right of refusal and a last look option on his next bout.
DeMarco, who turns 28 on Tuesday, will face countryman Jesus Gurrola (20-5-3, 9 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round junior welterweight bout at the Tecate Azteca Arena on Saturday night (UniMas, 11 ET/PT).
DeMarco (29-3-1, 22 KOs), who is from Tijuana, will be in his second fight at junior welterweight. In November 2012, DeMarco lost his lightweight world title when he was knocked out in the eighth-round by Adrien Broner in a one-sided fight. DeMarco moved up in weight in his August return in which he stopped Fidel Monterrosa in the fifth round in Tijuana.
DeMarco has been training for the fight at Freddie Roach's Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif.
Ward (26-0, 14 KOs), returning from a 14-month layoff because of a shoulder injury, is the main attraction as he defends his title against top contender Edwin Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KOs) on Nov. 16 (HBO) at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif., in the main event. Molina and Gonzalez highlight the undercard, although HBO will carry only the main event.
Molina (26-3, 21 KOs), who will face an opponent to be named in an eight-round bout, is just 2-2 in his past four bouts, but usually brings some drama to his fights. He got knocked out in 44 seconds by then-lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco in September 2012 on Ward’s last undercard but returned for an impressive fourth-round knockout of Dannie Williams in January. Then came a tight majority decision loss to Andrey Klimov. But Molina got back on track again in July with a dramatic come-from-behind 10th-round knockout of Mickey Bey in the final minute of the fight.
Gonzalez (17-0-1, 10 KOs), who shares trainer Virgil Hunter with Ward, is due to face Jonathan Nelson (19-0, 9 KOs), who beat Gonzalez in a 2006 amateur meeting. Gonzalez is coming off his biggest fight, a disappointing 10-round draw with Thomas Oosthuizen on HBO in June.
Mora is on the card because his new promoter, Lou DiBella, also promotes Rodriguez and got a slot for a fight on the card as part of the deal. Mora (24-3-2, 7 KOs), who faces Colombia’s Milton Nunez (26-8-1, 24 KOs) in an eight-round middleweight fight, is 3-3-1 in his past six bouts but is coming off a solid win against former European champion Grzegorz Proksa in June.
In another undercard fight, 2012 Mexican Olympian Oscar Molina (6-0, 5 KOs and no relation to John) takes on Carlos Sanchez (6-4, 2 KOs) in a six-rounder.
But Rigondeaux (12-0, 8 KOs) still has nothing specifically lined up because HBO, less than enthralled with his non-aggressive performance against Donaire, has resisted putting him back on the air -- even though it was network executives who pressured Top Rank promoter Bob Arum to match Rigondeaux with Donaire.
However, it's Arum who says he remains hopeful that he can work something out with the network and that a potential December date for Rigondeaux is being discussed.
"I don't think it's right for them to abandon Rigondeaux, whatever his style is," Arum said of the two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist. "He's still an amazing talent. We have to get him in with a guy who is aggressive."
Arum also hopes to feature junior welterweight titlist Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-0, 9 KOs), a Russian southpaw -- possibly on the same card with Rigondeaux. Allakhverdiev was scheduled to fight on HBO in March on the Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios II undercard in Las Vegas, but an injury forced him off the show. He returned in July and made his mandatory defense in Monaco, scoring a lopsided 11th-round knockout of Souleymane M'baye.
If Arum has his way, Allakhverdiev will be headed back to America for his next defense.
"Khabib is a very entertaining and interesting fighter," Arum said. "I'd like to match him with [former lightweight titlist Antonio] DeMarco."
DeMarco lost his 135-pound title to Adrien Broner in November but returned on Aug. 10 to stop Fidel Monterrosa in the fifth round in an entertaining junior welterweight fight.
• On Sunday in Tokyo, 27-year-old Ryota Murata, the heralded 2012 Olympic middleweight gold medalist from Japan, will make his pro debut. Murata will headline the card at the Ariake Coliseum in a scheduled six-rounder against Akio Shibata (21-7-1, 9 KOs), who holds the OPBF middleweight title, which is one of Asia’s most traditional regional belts. Murata recently signed a co-promotional deal with Akihiko Honda’s Teiken Boxing and Top Rank, which has plans for him to fight in the United States next year. Top Rank’s Bob Arum made the trip to Japan to attend Murata’s debut.
Also on the card is former featherweight and junior lightweight titlist Jorge Linares (33-3, 21 KOs), who faces Berman Sanchez (26-5-3, 18 KOs) of Nicaragua in a 10-round lightweight contest. Linares, who is from Venezuela, has made Japan his second home for years. He has won two fights in a row since disastrous knockout losses to Antonio DeMarco for a vacant lightweight belt in 2011 and Sergio Thompson in a March 2012 title eliminator.
• European junior featherweight champion Carl Frampton (16-0, 11 KOs), a rising talent in the 122-pound division, will defend his belt against Jeremy Parodi (35-1-1, 9 KOs) of France on Oct. 19 (BoxNation in the U.K.). The fight will take place at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Frampton’s hometown. Frampton is closing in on a mandatory world title shot at the belt that Spain’s Kiko Martinez won Saturday night in Atlantic City, N.J., by stopping Jhonatan Romero in the sixth round of an upset. Two fights before winning the title, Martinez (29-4, 21 KOs) was knocked out by Frampton in the ninth round. If Frampton becomes the mandatory, a rematch would be in the cards.
The 27-year-old DeMarco (28-3-1, 21 KOs), a southpaw who is moving up to junior welterweight, is scheduled to face Fidel Monterrosa (31-7-1, 25 KOs) in a 10-round bout on Saturday night in Tijuana, Mexico, DeMarco's adopted hometown, Zanfer Promotions announced.
DeMarco recently left promoter Gary Shaw, but Shaw claims he still has DeMarco under contract and is threatening to sue him.
Monterrosa, 25, a native of Colombia living in Mexico, has had one world title shot, but lost a unanimous decision to Mexico's Humberto Soto challenging for his lightweight belt in 2010.
But Molina, of Covina, Calif., has not given up on his hopes of someday winning a world title, and he returned in January with a good victory as he knocked out Dannie Williams in the fourth round.
Now Molina (25-2, 20 KOs) is seeking a second consecutive win when he faces Andrey Klimov (15-0, 8 KOs) of Russia in a scheduled 10-rounder on June 7 (ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET) at Little Creek Casino and Resort in Shelton, Wash.
“As of right now, everything in camp is the mindset that is purely on Klimov,” the 30-year-old Molina said. “I know him and I know sometimes fighters like Klimov go under the radar with the fans and television executives because he's from Russia and not seen here in America often. But in beating him it will take a great performance from me, and I'm prepared to do just that.
“The fight plan is to go out there and look impressive. Control the fight. If it goes the distance, we're ready. If a knockout comes, we'll jump all over it.”
Klimov said he has studied Molina and also is ready.
“I will box and stay out of a straight line, and try to move in and out on him,” he said. “I will not look for a knockout. I'm ready to go at the same pace for all 10 rounds, if it goes the distance. My ultimate goal would be to fight for the championship of the world. I never duck anybody and fight whoever is put in front of me and now it's in my hands to beat Molina impressively so everyone knows who I am.”
Given how thin the lightweight division is now, especially with the imminent departure of titleholder Adrien Broner, it is not out of the question that the Molina-Klimov winner gets a title shot sooner than later.
In the co-feature, super middleweight Farah Ennis (20-1, 12 KOs), 30, of Philadelphia will meet Anthony Hanshaw (23-2-2, 14 KOs) of High Point, N.C.
Hanshaw, 35, was once a rising contender before losing a decision to Roy Jones in 2007, followed by a fifth-round knockout loss to Andre Dirrell in 2008.
After calling it quits for more than four years, Hanshaw returned in October. He won decisions in his first two comeback fights against woeful opposition and fought to a draw in February against Derek Edwards.
Although it is unlikely, Hanshaw said he is aiming for a shot at super middleweight champ Andre Ward.
“I've worked very hard to get back to this point and failure is not an option,” Hanshaw said. “After I put the final nail in Farah's casket, I'll look for a shot at Andre Ward to concrete my name in boxing history.”
After Burns-Vazquez was postponed until April 20, still in London, Schaefer said he was in touch with Burns promoter Frank Warren about instead doing the Broner fight, which the sides had already tried to negotiate in February.
According to Schaefer, Warren said he was interested but that Burns' manager, Alex Morrison, wasn't. Schaefer said that was "unfortunate, because Ricky is going to lose to Vasquez for a fraction of the money he can make fighting Broner."
Schaefer wouldn't put a number on how much he offered for Burns but said, "I offered Frank a lot of money for Burns to come over. It's a very big number. I said to Frank, 'Why don't you come over here [to the U.S.]? At least Ricky is going to make double or triple what he can make in this fight with Vazquez.' Frank said, 'I'm on board, but the manager doesn't want to fight Broner.' He said there's nothing he can do."
With no Burns fight for Broner, Schaefer said there's a possibility the lightweight titlist will jump up two weight classes to challenge welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi on June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. (Malignaggi's hometown).
"Paulie told me he is interested, and HBO likes the fight," Schaefer said. "People will like that fight. Paulie did tell me he would take it. He's not sure Broner would take it. I put it to [Broner manager] Al Haymon to talk to Adrien. I think it would be a very interesting fight."
I like Broner-Burns, but Malignaggi-Broner? Count me in.
• Yuriorkis Gamboa, who won a vacant interim junior lightweight title with a less-than-impressive decision against Michael Farenas on Dec. 8, has no fight lined up yet, but there have been talks about a spring return, likely at lightweight. Gamboa, who is with promoter/rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson), is looking for an opponent. From what I'm told, HBO is interested in his next fight and former titlist Antonio DeMarco came up as a possible opponent. DeMarco lost his title by eighth-round knockout to Broner in April. Although HBO owes DeMarco a fight based on the deal from the Broner bout, DeMarco promoter Gary Shaw told me they are not interested in Gamboa.
• Here's a late but nice addition to this weekend's television boxing lineup: Top Rank announced that the flyweight title eliminator between former junior flyweight titleholders Edgar Sosa (47-7, 28 KOs) of Mexico City and Ulises "Archie" Solis (35-2-3, 22 KOs) will headline "Solo Boxeo Tecate" (UniMas, 11 ET/PT) on Saturday night in Guadalajara, Solis' hometown. They will be meeting for the third time. Solis won both of their previous fights, a six-round decision in 2001 and a majority decision in a Mexican junior flyweight title fight in 2003.
• Javier Fortuna (21-0, 15 KOs) of the Dominican Republic, who won a vacant interim featherweight belt by outpointing Patrick Hyland on Dec. 8 on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV undercard, will make his first defense against Mexico's Miguel Zamudio (25-1-1, 13 KOs) on April 13. The fight will headline ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" at a location to be determined.
• There was a purse bid held Tuesday at the IBF offices in New Jersey for Juan Carlos Sanchez (15-1-1, 8 KOs) of Mexico and Argentina's Roberto Sosa (24-0, 14 KOs). However, according to IBF championships chairman Lindsey Tucker, nobody showed up to bid on the fight. Tucker said he has rescheduled the bid for March 19. If nobody shows up a second time, Sanchez will be stripped of his title.
• HBO's new boxing series "Cornered" debuts Tuesday night (10:15 ET/PT). The 15-minute debut, which focuses on famed ring announcer Michael Buffer, is a behind-the-scenes series that will follow boxing personalities who aren't fighters themselves. HBO is calling the show a "companion series" to its popular "2 Days," which follows a fighter in the 48 hours leading up to his fight.
Golden Boy pledged to donate $2 per ticket sold and $1,000 per knockout scored during the seven-bout card headlined by Adrien Broner's eighth-round knockout of Antonio DeMarco in a lightweight title bout.
The tally from tickets sold was $7,764 and $7,000 for knockouts scored. That total of $14,764 was matched by De La Hoya and Caesars Atlantic City, bringing the total donation to $44,292.
Golden Boy also donated fight tickets to the organization, and Broner and heavyweight Seth Mitchell, who lost in a major upset to Johnathon Banks, visited one of the clubs on Wednesday to meet with kids and help clean up Hurricane Sandy-strewn debris from the grounds outside the facility. Several of the area facilities were heavily damaged during the storm, forcing closures that directly affected underserved youth and their family members who rely on the club.
"We are extremely happy that we were not only able to host the fight in Atlantic City and give people a great night of entertainment, but that we were able to raise the monies to make such a large contribution to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Atlantic City," De La Hoya said. "It is so gratifying for all of us at Golden Boy to be able to help this area recover from the impact of this destructive storm."
DeMarco, making his third title defense, was facing an extraordinarily talented fighter in Broner, who is fast, elusive and powerful.
Broner (25-0, 21 KOs) broke down DeMarco (28-3-1, 21 KOs), dropped him in the eighth round with a gorgeous six-punch combination and stopped him when DeMarco's corner threw in the towel. I'm not sure the towel-tossing was even necessary because I'm not so sure DeMarco was going to beat the count. And even if he had, I believe referee Benjy Esteves, one of boxing's best, would have stopped the fight.
One thing about DeMarco: He's a classy guy. He didn't run and hide after the fight. He showed up at the postfight news conference and gave Broner all of the credit he deserved.
"As we know how to win, we know how to lose, and that is why I am here," DeMarco said. "I want to congratulate Broner. He is a great fighter, and tonight was his night.
"Broner is a very elusive fighter. I fell into his game and into his fight. Without a doubt, Broner is a very complete fighter. I am glad to have fought him. I like big challenges and I think Broner is a super fighter. Congratulations to him."
DeMarco, 26, of Mexico, fought through incredible poverty to get to a world title, and he earned about $600,000 for his loss. He said he will be back.
"It doesn't end here," he said. "I want to show my daughter that dreams can come true, and I want to stay [in boxing]. I want to thank the people that have supported me."
In defeat, DeMarco, his face covered with bruises and welts, was almost uplifting in his comments.
"This was a great experience for me in my career," he said. "I am a very brave guy and I will come back with more hunger. I make that promise for my family, for my daughter and for my baby on the way. I want to be a good example for them."
After the storm hit two weeks ago, there were initial questions about whether the show would even take place. But it will go on, and Golden Boy -- which is promoting the card that also will feature a heavyweight showdown between Seth Mitchell and Johnathon Banks -- and host casino Caesars Atlantic City are chipping in to help those impacted by the hurricane, as well as helping support the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City.
Golden Boy announced it will donate $2 for every ticket sold and $1,000 per knockout registered during the card, with Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya and Caesars Atlantic City matching the donation.
Several of the area Boys and Girls Clubs were heavily damaged, forcing them to close facilities that directly impact youth and their families in the area.
In addition to the monetary pledges, Golden Boy is donating tickets to the Boys and Girls Club of Atlantic City, and Broner and Mitchell are scheduled to visit one of the clubs Wednesday.
"We are hoping that the Broner versus DeMarco fight will afford people the opportunity to forget their worries for an evening and enjoy this great night of boxing," Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said in a statement. "At the same time, we understand the severity of the situation and would be remiss not to make a donation to help those directly affected by this terrible storm. With Oscar and Caesars Atlantic City providing matching donations, we feel very positive that our collective donation will help to make a difference."
Said De La Hoya: "The people of Atlantic City are in need now, and I am happy to join in the effort and make my own contribution in order to help some of the people affected by Sandy. A world of good can happen when everyone comes together to give back to people who are in need."
"Sandy not only breached the walls of the Boys and Girls Club, but the lives of each and every member here in Atlantic City," said John Smith, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah's Resort, the parent of Caesars Atlantic City. "So it's with great honor that I announce this donation to an organization that embodies the never-give-up attitude of New Jersey. We will not sit idly by and allow anything to compromise these impressionable youths."
While boxing is certainly secondary to the problems that face the region, many boxing fans have been tweeting at me and asking if the Nov. 17 card there featuring the much-anticipated fight between lightweight titleholder Antonio DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs) and former junior lightweight titlist Adrien Broner (24-0, 20 KOs) and the co-feature pitting heavyweight prospect Seth Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KOs) against Johnathon Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs) would still go forward.
I checked in with Golden Boy's Dave Itskowitch on Wednesday to see what was going on and he said that the show is still on as planned.
Caesars Atlantic City is sponsoring the Golden Boy-promoted and HBO-televised card at Boardwalk Hall and even though there has been storm damage along the boardwalk, the arena is OK.
"We've been told that Boardwalk Hall has sustained no damage and that was also the case with respect to the boardwalk in front of and around Boardwalk Hall," Itskowitch said in an email. "We were also informed that the casinos are ready to [re-open]."
Former two-division titlist Jorge Linares, blessed with enormous talent but a poor chin and tissue-thin skin that cuts easily, is on the comeback trail.
Venezuela's Linares, a one-time prodigy, won belts at featherweight and junior lightweight but never fully lived up to expectations. In 2009, he got whacked in the first round and lost his junior lightweight title to Juan Carlos Salgado in Tokyo, Linares' second home.
He then won four fights in a row before facing Mexico's Antonio DeMarco for a vacant lightweight belt last October at the Staples Center on the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson I undercard.
Linares was a heavy favorite and toyed with DeMarco for most of the fight. He was way ahead of DeMarco on all three scorecards going into the 11th round, but had also been severely cut and was bleeding profusely. Between the blood and DeMarco's raging desire to win, Linares got stopped late in the round in an upset.
It was such a dramatic comeback for DeMarco that a rematch was set up, but Linares first took a supposed tune-up fight. The result? He got whacked in the second round by underrated Sergio Thompson in March.
The DeMarco rematch went down the drain, and to many, so did Linares' career. But now Linares, 27, is giving it another go.
Trainer Freddie Roach, who took over as Linares' trainer for a few fights in a pairing that simply didn't work out, is no longer going to be in his corner. Linares (31-3, 20 KOs) is back with longtime trainer Sendai Tanaka as he heads into a scheduled 10-round lightweight fight against 37-year-old former lightweight and junior lightweight title challenger Hector Velasquez (52-17-3, 35 KOs) at Memorial Auditorium in Sacramento, Calif., on Saturday night (Fox Deportes, 10 ET).
In the scheduled 10-round main event, Japanese welterweight Yoshihiro Kamegai (21-0, 18 KOs), fighting in the United States for the second time, will face Mexico's Jorge Silva (19-2-1, 15 KOs).
This could be Linares' last stand as a relevant fighter. He should beat Velasquez, who has fought many top opponents -- including Manny Pacquiao, Edwin Valero, Israel Vazquez -- but is just 2-6-1 in his past nine fights. Velasquez is presumed to be on his last legs.
The question is, however, is Linares also?