“The Brawler Beats the Boxer”: Starring Edwin Valero vs. Antonio De Marco - Sharkie's Machine
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., DoghouseBoxing (Feb 7, 2010) Photo © German Villasenor  
It was surprising to see top contender Antonio De Marco (23-2-1, 17 KO’s) and company opt out of the fight after nine rounds against WBC LW Titlist, Venezuela ’s Edwin Valero (27-0, 27 KO’s). Valero is no joke. Valero’s short and hasn’t a long reach but he’s got a big heart, energy and killer instinct. He’s beaten all his opponents by stoppage so far so, De Marco’s plan was to box him into the late rounds and find out how good Valero is against a quality boxer after spending so much energy. That’s a smart plan but it didn’t consider Valero’s will to win.

I saw De Marco dominate Almazbek Raiymkulov last year and ultimately stop him in nine, after “Kid Diamond” retired on his stool. Nine was the magic number again Saturday night, only this time it didn’t favor De Marco. What comes around goes around.

This was a weird fight. In the opening round, Valero was the aggressor, throwing a multitude of punches, cutting off the ring and forcing De Marco to trade. Valero’s shots mostly grazed De Marco when they even landed, many were blocked and in those brief moments where De Marco opened up his offense, he was able to land clean shots that immediately saw Valero’s face turn into a bloody mess. The first time De Marco hit Valero, he caused a cut on his right eye, then a short moment later, he jabbed and caused a bruise on Valero’s cheek. I was wondering how Valero could cut so easily? By the end of the first round, Valero’s face was a bloody mess. Though De Marco landed the more effective punches, he was outworked by the less effective Valero. Tough to score but I gave it to De Marco since I’d rather had been him than Valero after round one.

Clearly De Marco’s plan was to take Valero to a place he rarely visited in his career; the late rounds. There he’d find out how Valero does business after spending so much energy punching non stop for seven or eight rounds. De Marco looked relaxed and to be pacing himself, while Valero threw a bunch of punches, most of which were missing the mark. This strategy failed to bear fruit as Valero was always the aggressor, always bringing the fight to De Marco, who was gun shy in too many rounds. I did think De Marco won a few of the early rounds because he did less but scored the most effective punches. Even by the time De Marco quit, his face was just a little swollen but no cuts or bruises. Meanwhile, Valero looked like he walked through a meat grinder. Valero did what he had to do and won the fight with sheer will.

If you live in the USA , it’s rare you get to see Edwin Valero fight. If you’re a hard core boxing fan, you read and heard a lot about him. He might’ve been more famous if it weren’t for the obstacles that prevent him from getting a visa or even getting licensed to fight in the USA . Some of that is due to a head injury Valero suffered years earlier in a non boxing activity. But he’s been cleared to fight in other countries, like Japan , Panama , France , Argentina and obviously Mexico .

With an impressive record, now standing at 27-0 with 27 KO’s, you have to figure there’s something special about this kid Valero and there is. The man fights with serious passion. How do you win every fight by KO? He out wills his opponents with his energetic barrages on offense. Digging through his record, I see he’s fought his share of bums and the typical, 18 to 20 irrelevant match ups against guys of dubious quality in order to sport a fancy record and become marketable. Saturday night in Monterrey Mexico , Edwin Valero got a chance to show the North Americans watching on Showtime what he’s made of against a quality fighter.

Though Valero’s fought a few respectable fighters in his quest so far, I was sure that Antonio De Marco was the best “boxer” he’s faced in his entire career. De Marco is durable, patient and fights smart in order to be effective late. De Marco won the chance to fight Valero by beating Jose Alfaro (23-4, 23 KO’s) to become the WBC “Interim” titlist. Yeah, I know, like we don’t have enough titles out there watering down the product as it is.

There was a lot of respect during the lead up to this fight and though some tried to create bad blood and stir the pot, both guys were gracious before, during and after the fight. De Marco even apologized to Valero after the fight for hitting him with his elbow in the second round (which caused a large gash on Valero’s forehead). Valero showed no hard feelings and showed class till the end.

During the post fight interviews, Antonio De Marco said he didn’t know what it was but he just didn’t respond and that it just wasn’t his night. Fair enough, De Marco still has a promising career and should study the tapes of this fight and become better. I look forward to seeing take on guys like Michael Katsidis (26-2, 21 KO’s), David Diaz (35-2-1, 17 KO’s) or Joan Guzman (29-0-1, 17 KO’s) or other top level aspiring fighters to keep him sharp.

Valero is definitely dangerous but he’d do well to work on improving his defense. He tends to keep his hands a bit low, which leaves him open to opponents willing to punch at the openings. Other than that, he’s on the road to stardom if he keeps fighting every six months or so. Guys I’d like to see Valero fight next include top ranked Juan Manual Marquez (50-5-1, 37 KO’s) Ali Funeka (30-2-3, 25 KO’s) and Anthony Peterson (29-0, 19 KO’s).

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