Photos by Sumio Yamada
ANTONIO DeMARCO vs JOSE REYES
In the second of two excellent 10-rounders on ShoBox this Friday, up-and-coming Mexican lightweight Antonio DeMarco gets an extremely difficult assignment when he meets the slick-boxing Puerto Rican Jose Reyes.
DeMarco has been impressive in previous ShoBox appearances against fellow-prospects, outpointing Nick Casal in a rousing fight and stopping the previously unbeaten Juan Castaneda.
In these bouts, though, he was meeting fighters who came right to him and he was able to use his height, reach and southpaw style to good advantage.
On Friday, though, DeMarco meets a different sort of opponent in the clever and usually elusive Reyes, who has made it clear in interviews that he has no intention of standing right in front of the harder hitting DeMarco.
Reyes learned the hard way about getting involved in a shootout type of fight in March when he had to come off the floor against Ivan Valle, winning a thriller on a fourth-round KO.
That was an out-of-character type of performance by Reyes. He came out fast and quickly dropped Valle with a big left hook. I think that he saw the chance of getting his first stoppage win in two years, took far more chances than usual and almost got stopped himself.
In his last fight, Reyes went back to his usual style of hitting and not getting hit as he boxed rings round the game but slow Noe Bolanos.
Reyes has won his last five fights, all against Mexican boxers, and he is probably the most talented fighter that DeMarco has faced. The 30-year-old Puerto Rican can be a frustrating opponent with his speed and crafty moves, and although he has scored just eight stoppage wins in 27 bouts he probably hits harder than the statistics suggest. Reyes is a sharp hitter, especially with the left hook. He is always poised to counter after making the other man miss, and he has an artful way of darting in with the left hooks to take his opponents by surprise. Reyes will also switch to southpaw, something I expect him to do against the left-handed Mexican boxer.
DeMarco has shown he can beat the tough, fighter types. Now he is in with someone with the sort of style he has probably never come across, a style that could give him considerable trouble if he fights the wrong sort of fight.
What Reyes likes to do is to get his opponents following him around the ring and reach in with their punches so that he can counter, but every so often he will spring at the other man, usually with the left hook, a move he sometimes follows by diving into a clinch.
A boxer such as this can keep his opponents guessing and prove highly frustrating to fight. I think that what DeMarco has to do is to keep pressure on Reyes, preferably jabbing his way in, let his hands go when he is in range and try to get in body shots. If DeMarco stands back and tries to land big shots to the head he is in danger or being outboxed and outsmarted. He has, I think, to be prepared to take some punches in order to keep on top of Reyes and get into a situation where he can fire off shots against the tricky campaigner.
It does seem to me that DeMarco can box as well as fight, and he seems to be a thinking fighter, one who can make adjustments. I think he will have to be more fighter than boxer on Friday, but an intelligently aggressive approach can bring reward.
DeMarco is the bigger man and the better puncher. I thought he looked very good against Casal, and when he stopped Castaneda he showed a lot of maturity for a 22-year-old. I am expecting DeMarco to have the ability and savvy to fight a winning fight. He is taller, sharper and a bit faster than most of the fighters Reyes has been meeting lately. I think that DeMarco will be be too strong and forceful for his more seasoned opponent but he might have to fight 10 fast-paced rounds to get the win if DeMarco could become the first to stop Reyes it would be a very impressive achievement.