- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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When lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco needed only 44 seconds to wipe out mandatory challenger John Molina Jr. on Sept. 8 on an HBO undercard, it meant there were no injury worries. He barely even broke a sweat.
Because he made such quick work of Molina, DeMarco, promoter Gary Shaw and HBO aimed for a quick ring return for the fight they really wanted to put together -- an intriguing match between the quiet and humble DeMarco and the brash and flashy former junior lightweight titleholder Adrien "The Problem" Broner.
Shaw and DeMarco believed so strongly that the fight would be made that DeMarco went to training camp more than two weeks ago. Broner is also already training and, over the weekend, the fight, although not signed yet, was agreed to.
DeMarco will make the third defense of his 135-pound title against Broner on Nov. 17 (HBO) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., Shaw said.
"We have a lot of respect for Broner and his skills," Shaw told ESPN.com on Monday. "Broner will have his work cut out for him against DeMarco. He better take Tony seriously and train hard. DeMarco has already been in training for two weeks. He knows it's a difficult fight. But he wanted to fight Broner so he is excited to get the opportunity.
"Antonio is a very sharp puncher. Although he's a slow starter, other than his last fight, he doesn't punch wide. I don't know if Broner has ever been in with a guy who throws straight punches and reaches his mark the way Antonio does."
Broner was very excited to get the fight.
"I knew who I wanted to fight, DeMarco, and I got it and I am happy," Broner told ESPN.com just before beginning a Monday afternoon training session. "You got a lot of people out there asking, 'Is Adrien Broner really the next big star in boxing?' I know I am. I wanted to come straight to 135 pounds and fight the best. DeMarco is the champ and that's who we are fighting.
"I'm very blessed and I'm very happy. I'm not going to take him lightly. He's a good fighter, a world class fighter and he deserves to be champion. He is not world champion for nothing, but I have the talent to do what I want to do. On Nov. 17, everyone will know why I'm 'The Problem.' Everybody has their time and it's Adrien 'The Problem' Broner's time."
The 26-year-old DeMarco (28-2-1, 21 KOs), a southpaw from Mexico, won a vacant belt in dramatic fashion when he rallied from a big deficit to stop heavily favored Jorge Linares in the 11th round in October 2011 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. DeMarco returned to Mexico for his first defense in March, a fifth-round knockout of Miguel Roman, before blowing away Molina on the Andre Ward-Chad Dawson undercard in Oakland, Calif., last month.
"I think this is the biggest fight of Broner's career, but it's not the biggest fight of DeMarco's career," Shaw said. "Antonio has been in with (Edwin) Valero (a ninth-round knockout loss in a 2010 lightweight title fight) and with Linares, so he's been in the big stage before. But this is absolutely the biggest fight of Broner's career. But I think it's a terrific fight.
"If Broner can do away with DeMarco quickly, he can come out of the fight a huge star because I think everybody has a lot of respect for DeMarco and the kind of fighter he is. If they have a real war and it's close, maybe a little luster comes off of Broner, but nobody questions how good Broner is, certainly not me or DeMarco. But this may be a case of Broner being rushed. It's on neutral territory, which is good. If DeMarco hurts him he will finish him because he is a great finisher."
Broner (24-0, 20 KOs), 23, of Cincinnati, won a vacant junior lightweight belt when he knocked out Vicente Martin Rodriguez in the third round in Cincinnati in November 2011. Broner smashed Eloy Perez in the fourth round of a one-sided fight in his first defense in February. However, the day before a July 21 title defense, Broner failed to make weight for a hometown fight against Vicente Escobedo. Broner was 3½ pounds over the 130-pound limit and was stripped of the title The fight went on with the belt only at stake for Escobedo, but Broner cruised to a fifth-round knockout win.
Having outgrown junior lightweight, Broner said he would move up to lightweight. On Monday, he said he will have no issues making 135 pounds against DeMarco and that nobody should expect a repeat of what happened in July.
"The weight is not a problem," Broner said. "I know the weight thing is a big deal because of what happened and people wonder if I can make the weight. But I just grew out of (junior lightweight). I guarantee you I will be 135 pounds or less for this fight. Making this weight is not going to be a problem.
"I am very happy that I can go up to the next weight class and that I don't have to wait and sit, that I automatically got a shot at the title in my first fight in the weight class. So I am training hard and I will put on a great show."
In the co-feature, Brandywine, Md., heavyweight Seth Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KOs), 30, will face Johnathon Banks (28-1-1, 18 KOs), also 30, of Detroit in a bout that was originally scheduled for the July 14 Danny Garcia-Amir Khan undercard in Las Vegas. However, Mitchell suffered an injury to a knuckle on his right hand and the bout was postponed.
But Mitchell has been training and his hand is fine, manager Sharif Salim told ESPN.com.
"He's fine, he's sparring and he looks good," Salim said. "He never really left the gym. He wasn't using his right hand, but he was using his left hand. The doctor told him to rest the right hand and that's what he did. Everything is working now but his left hook is even crisper because we went through a lot of drills just working on his left hand while the right was healing."
Antonio DeMarco-Adrien Broner lightweight title bout is set for Nov. 17.